Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 | T: lamono
The Witches were in Asturias; after listening to some American fellas talk about them, my interest for this all-girls band grew stronger, and I couldn’t wait to see them during their European tour, more precisely in the oasis of culture, fun and good music that is Oviedo. The date was marked on the calendar many weeks ahead. First, I must confess that what draws me into this band are its members, the girls, as characters, iconic images and their very own aesthetics. The cover of their EP on Spotify, a black metal kitten, won me over, and so, I presented to the people at lamono the opportunity of interviewing them. Their reply is always the same: ‘This is your house ;)’. With the idea approved, I started listening to their songs in repeat for weeks, not because it was my first musical interview or because I was trying to help myself from looking stupid, but because these girls got me absolutely hooked; their psychedelic sound makes me wanna spend days taking hallucinogens in the desert, dancing naked under the stars, like a witch. When I finally met them, these feelings didn’t diminish, they actually increased. A strong black aura surrounds them, and as you come closer it transforms into an electric sparkle that entices you, making it impossible to look away, drawing you in as an insect that is completely aware it risks ending fried up. As the first chords played along, Sade’s voice took us somewhere else, far away, warm and magic. Then, the three witches led the way into some kind of trance where we were all invited. Vigorously, Irita caressed the bass as her hair danced with the rhythm, meanwhile Ellie was punishing her drum set with the energy of a Persian army. The performance was clean, perfectly orchestrated, free of any kind of artifice. As an offering meticulously rehearsed, where all the ingredients fit together, the potion left in me an amazing aftertaste, an ecstasy that makes me want to repeat such experience again. The morning after we met again, and I proposed to go and have the photo shoot in a cemetery near by, they loved the idea. The sun was shining as we were by ourselves, walking in silence through the desolated graveyard. They were all carrying their analog cameras, shooting here and there. That’s when Sade told me she tends to go to cemeteries to relax. I had never thought about it, but right then, it seemed like the perfect place to disconnect from the world. They laughed and fooled around, and for a moment they looked ordinary girls, right until the moment when I would point at them with my camera, then they would transform back into the fierce women that perform on stage, with all the energy and magnetism that makes you feel goose bumps with one simple stare over the sunglasses; authentic L.A. Witches. As soon as we finished shooting they disappeared, separately. My eyes followed them in the distance as I smiled within; I guess that after a month riding a caravan, moments of solitude like that are necessary. Plus, I was happy about having chosen that place and endowing them with this very small experience.When they came back they looked more relaxed, they smiled and started eating “Quesitos del Caserio” with bread, -quite a sacrilege here in Asturias, but I kept that for myself-. We sat in the parking lot of the cemetery as we talked about the divine and the mundane, and this is what they had to say. Text & photos: Cecilia Álvarez-Hevia Arias
Hi ladies, first of all, thank you for making some time for us in the middle of your exhaustive tour. No problem, our pleasure.
Ok, so let’s start with question number one. Some of your Instagram photos go all the way back to the year 2012; throughout these fours years we bet there hasn’t been any bad festival or performance in the U.S.A. or Canada, nonetheless we would like to know, how have these last four years been for you? This last year has been the first we started touring heavily, before we always had done smaller tours, but because this year we don’t have jobs, we can focus more on touring. The first three years we did more scattered, random shows, and we took it a little bit slower. So far this year we have crossed America three times, so it’s been busy.
It sounds good… Yeah, it’s fun, we love it.
Is this your first time in Europe as a band? Yeah.
You are still quite new in Europe and this must be a recurrent question, but tell us, how did the band and all this madness start? Eli and I (Sade) had a band when we were in high school, it was just a two-piece band; we split up after we graduated and each of us went on to do our own thing. Three or four years later I was looking to start a band again, and that’s when a mutual friend introduced me to Irita. We were looking for the same kind of company. By then she had already been jamming with two other girls, and they were looking for a guitarist and a signer, and I was looking for a band, so we set up kind of like a blind date and we jammed and kept on doing it. After some time we lost our drummer, and I bumped into Eli and asked her if she wanted to fill in for the upcoming shows, she was on board and ever since we’ve been playing together.
Here in Oviedo we can say you are halfway through your tour, so it’s about time to make an assessment. Have you found many differences between the American and European audience? Yes, they are very different. We think people here know more about music (laughs), than people in America. Even though audiences are different in every city, either if it’s in America o Europe.
Your musical style is the perfect blend between punk, garage and psychedelia. Which are your main influences and which bands have inspired you the most? We really like Black Sabbath, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Cramps, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, Joy Division, a lot of post-punk. All of us listen to a lot of the same stuff, and then we listen to our own other genres as well. But as far as the band influences, they are all very similar and that’s why we think they work out so well for us, when it comes to making music; we all have a very similar understanding of what kind of music we are feeling and we want to create.
As an all-girls band do you think that you are part of the new era of weird girl movements? We don’t know, because the thing about it is that all of us never really related to any type of movement, never, nor feminism or anything. I mean, that’s cool, but all of us, we just played music since we were young, and we didn’t think about it. A lot of the newer generations do think that way, they think of themselves like, ‘we are women playing music’, and we just think of it as, ‘we are people playing music’. So for us it’s very hard to relate to all of that, because we never categorize ourselves in that way.
For many years the music industry has held enormous stereotypes, categorizing women as groupies and men as rockstars. Have you ever felt discriminated, uncomfortable or out of place, just for being women? There has been times, yes… Remember this concert, there were these guys in the crowd yelling rude things. That was really weird, it was really uncomfortable, because they were yelling and they were our fans, and you don’t want to be mean with them, also, if it’s your first time in a certain country or whatever, you wonder if it is a miscommunication. This fans were like, ‘You’re sexy, sign my cock”, and you’re like, ‘I don’t want to fight you but I also don’t like that’, so they put you in this really weird position where you don’t want to be the bitch. Because if you stand up for yourself, that might be the image you’ll end up projecting. The cool thing though, was that a girl in the audience fought for us. She was actually in the first band we had and she is really cool. Also, sometimes we perceive a condescending attitude from the sound engineers for example, who look at you as if you don’t know anything just because you are a woman.
once you’ve traveled as much as we have, when you come home you’re like, ‘I need to go out again, I can’t stay in one place’
I love California and I have always idealized living there, with the sun, the palm trees, the sunset in Santa Monica, the surfing and skateboarding culture, the road trips through the dessert, bands in every garage, etc. But usually, when you live for a long time in a place it might get boring, is it still really fantastic for you or is it kind of normal now? It is exactly how you described it (laughs), with dogs. It’s like living on a movie, but once you’ve traveled as much as we have, when you come home you’re like, ‘I need to go out again, I can’t stay in one place’. We love Los Angeles, it’s our home, we don’t get tired of it. All of us love to travel, but we also love to go back home.
Besides music, what other things do you like doing during your free time? Ellie: I like sewing, I have a garden, I like working in my garden, I give drum lessons to little kids, I like hanging out with my friends. Sade: I hang out with my dog a lot, I like to go to the beach, I like skating, I like arcade, I like movies, I just got a motorcycle license this year, I never get to ride it because I’m always away, but when I’m home I like to ride my motorcycle, I guess that’s pretty much it, I like little camping trips and stuff. Irita: I like to take photos and do graphic stuff, you know, just hang out and chill, go to museums and stuff.
Everyone talks wonders about your music and performances, but, besides your obvious talent in that field, you also have a very characteristic style and aesthetics that draw people in, leading many brands in the fashion industry to see something in you with which they can relate. How do you see that junction between music and fashion? We believe fashion is inspired by culture, and music is part of that, so it’s a field from where fashion draws inspiration, and vice versa.
In addition to playing the role of a journalist in this interview, I’m a photographer, and I believe images many times are worth a thousand words. If I had to describe you using five images, they would be: The legendary Kurt Cobain photo wearing his sunglasses, a Death Valley postcard, one of the psychedelic walls from the Electric Lady Studios, a black and white photo of Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Debbie Harry, and a frame from the Bikini Kill, Rebel Yell music video, with the Russian ballet, the palm trees and Hillary pretending to be a feminist. Now, I want you to describe yourselves using five images. Oh, ok… those were all good ones. I think we would have to say the first Black Sabbath album cover, the photo of Joan Jett with a baseball bat shot by Brad Elterman, maybe Poison Ivy dressed in leopard, the one of Ozzy where he is wearing the white fringe, the zombie photo of The Ramones…
If right now you had the ability of foreseeing the future using a crystal ball, like witches, what would you wish for next year? We would ask for a house in Berlin with a studio, because we want to live there next year, to be touring with some of our favorite bands, hopefully Night Beats or Jesus and Mary Chain, that would be fun. Just be able to continue touring in different parts of the world, have an album that we are happy with, have more releases that we are happy with, pretty much what we are doing now but on a greater scale, and maybe just a little bit more money (laughs), so we can buy new gear that doesn’t break all the time, that’s it.
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