Born unconventionally as an escape route out of NYC, Eternal Sleepover, showcases the adventures Czerwinski and Corwin found themselves on last summer, jumping between couches in Cuba, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Los Angeles on a never-ending sleepover. Through photos, anonymous writing submissions and a 23-track album featuring artists like Clairo, the duo decided to document those experiences, capturing the nights they never wanted to forget, the gritty intimacy we share after midnight, the friends we get tangled with—it's dreamy AF.
When was your first sleepover as a kid?
Emma Czerwinski: Oh god. The earliest one I remember is when I was four and living in Boston. My friend and his mom came to live with us because she was leaving her husband. Him and I would make fairy villages in the backyard and make pancakes and shake maracas until they broke. They moved to Florida afterwards—we road tripped down with them and got to go to Disney World. Iconic.
Cybelle Corwin: I remember having friends over at my house a lot. Especially my first best friend—she practically lived at my house like she was my sister. But I didn’t like staying at other peoples houses much, even hers. One time, I packed my pink plastic suitcase with everything I could need and thought I’d for sure be A-OK for a night at her house. I was fine through the tacos for dinner, and the movies and snacks from 7-Eleven. But eventually, I had to call my mom on their home phone—I remember crying on the front porch with the suitcase by my side waiting for her to pick me up and take me home to sleep in my own bed.
Eternal Sleepover began in the winter of 2016. What led up to your guys' first sleepover?
Emma Czerwinski: I had just broken up with my boyfriend at the time, and Cyb came from Amsterdam to be with me. Our plan was to get her an apartment in NYC so we could be in the same city, but I was kind of crumbling at that point in my life and needed to get out. We decided to go to Cuba—the borders had just opened and it was the first time we could ever travel there, plus no cell service or Internet. We lived there for about three weeks and spiraled into traveling together for two years…which spiraled into us falling in love.
What are you trying to capture with the project?
Cybelle Corwin: Intimacy, mostly; setting out to deliberately document what was happening in our lives—the cuteness and the grittiness.
What was the most memorable experience you had in your travels?
Emma Czerwinski: I loved taking her to Las Vegas, where I half grew up. We were driving down the Strip and she was seeing it for the first time, and I realized I had a memory in every single hotel and casino. I felt a weird appreciation for having lived there, and felt a sort of awe about the desert. I never felt that before—at the time I was living there, I was really disenchanted with the place. But looking at it through her eyes was really special.
Cybelle Corwin: Vegas was the most memorable for me, too. When we were about to touch down it was the 4th of July, so there were fireworks as far as the eye could see. Walking through the airport, there were voices bubbling from slot machines luring you in, and old guys and gals in beige bucket hats and floral shirts getting stuck to them like flies in fly traps—'The bags at baggage claim can wait,' they must say to themselves. Then there was a beat up car in the parking lot full of Emma’s friends. I loved all of it! Vegas is so bizarre, and that was only the airport.
How did your relationships with yourselves and each other change and develop throughout this project?
Emma Czerwinski: I feel like the relationship that developed most through this project was ours with Sham. Before this we had worked together, but for this project we lived together for about three months straight, and he would usually sleep on a couch in the same room as us. We did everything together—he is family to us now.
Tell us about some of the most interesting characters you came across.
Cybelle Corwin: I loved meeting Tag, he made a song on the album. [When we met], he took us for a ride in his convertible—GLAM—for an hour or so one balmy night in the Valley. We stopped for drive-through fries and pink lemonade. But really, it’s hard to say who was the most interesting—if i could put them into words, I wouldn’t have made a whole project about all of them!
How did you find the couches you crashed on?
Emma Czerwinski: Every time we travel we stay with people, usually that we meet through the Internet. I have never had any bad experiences. It’s really just friends of friends—of friends, of friends—not complete strangers.
What is the distinction between dreams and reality, for you? Is there one?
Cybelle Corwin: Barely—perspective and trust in yourself make or break it, though. There definitely feels like a difference when you swing hard into 'reality.' When I do that, my dreams can feel far away. But when you trust yourself, it’s easy enough to realize months of dreaming have already gone by.
Many of the pieces in Eternal Sleepover are anonymous submissions. How did you get so many people to share such personal pieces?
Emma Czerwinski: On the website, we have a lot of hidden Easter eggs that open up into anonymous submission forms. I probably get 100 a day—it’s really interesting to read, and I see patterns in a lot of what people think. It’s funny how everyone feels alone but are really experiencing a variation of the same thing privately. I think people appreciate that secret aspect of Messy. Online you have to be a certain person, and say certain things, but there, they can come hang with us and share just what's on their mind.
Cybelle Corwin: Messy has always been very reader inclusive. I think it’s second nature for there to be vulnerable and open dialogue between everyone involved.
Describe the artistic process of producing Eternal Sleepover. What was the hardest part?
Emma Czerwinski: The whole process of creating and capturing is very freeing and natural. The organization process is what I would call the start of production. We started laying out the magazine and scanning photos when we were in Atlanta staying at Sloth’s house. We would get GIANT cups of coffee from the Dunkin' Donuts two blocks away everyday—I’m talking gallon-size coffee, trying to convince Salim to let us use his scanner, switching-off between the bed, and the couch, and the porch, until our eyes were bloodshot, while Dom would pop in and give us popcorn and wine. Once we had a basic layout of 800 pages, we cut it down and down and back and back. The whole process of editing takes months. You always look at it and see something you want to change. At one point we were just like, 'Okay I can’t fucking look at this anymore, this has to be done.' But the hardest part is being broke and not really being able to eat well while exerting your energy, not having a stable place to stay—just not having a baseline level of security during the creation.
What about the musical element of the project—the 23 track compilation album. What was the inspiration behind it?
Emma Czerwinski: Yes! I love this aspect so much—it adds such body to the project. Sham really spearheaded the whole thing, convinced all the artists to do it, produced it, mastered it, created the intro, closing and the skits. He helped Clairo produce her part of it, too—it’s really his baby.
Cybelle Corwin: You’ve never seen someone as excited as Sham is when he gets to make music, and in the final product it really shows.
What’s the plan for the release of Eternal Sleepover?
Cybelle Corwin: Sending out the physical thing! I think it’s so impossible to describe and we don’t really want to put it to words that much. We just want to get it in people’s hands. We also have some ideas for events, but those will come later.
'Eternal Sleepover' is available now. Learn more about the project and buy your copy here.