It definitely takes attitude to name your band L.A. Witch and that attitude comes through in the band’s music. Dark, mysterious and very clearly influenced by psychedelia, L.A. Witch’s named alludes to both the music and motifs the band puts out.
“The original line up was all girls with really long dark hair and we wore all black. It seemed kind of witchy and mysterious and beautiful,” vocalist and guitarist Sade Sanchez says. “You know, a witch is automatically thought of as female and it can be good or evil but it is a powerful kind of woman. Plus there aren’t a lot of people wearing all black in L.A.”
Although drummer Ellie English wasn’t in the original band line-up, they have been playing as the current trio with Irita Pai on bass and organ as well for over two years. Pai says the band’s interest in darker things has been a lifelong theme.
“It represents the dark side of human nature,” she says. “When I was little everyone else would be watching rom-coms and I’d just want to watch some scary weird horror movie.
“I feel like we are who we are on stage,” Pai continues. “We don’t try to be anything.”
Just before English joined the line-up, L.A. Witch release a three-song self titled and self released EP, which was later picked up and released digitally by Manimals—a label that represents Warpaint, Death Valley Girls and Bat for Lashes to name a few.
Although the band currently only has those three songs released, it’s fair to say those three songs have impressed. Ranging from tripped out rocking psych revival to melancholy dark folk and even moments of stoner metal peeking in, it’s clear that whatever L.A. Witch is going for it’s going to be a little more morose and somber than some of the other psych bands out there.
“I think it’s really easy to group everything as psych sometimes, a lot of Lollipop bands have a lot of garage or a lot of pop influence as well,” Sanchez says. “That’s one thing—we’re not really pop.” So if they’re not pop, what are they?
“It’s really raw. It’s not necessarily upbeat or something you can dance to or mosh to or whatever,” she continues. “It’s the kind of thing you really have to pay attention to.”
In terms of inspiration, the band pulls from everything from Nirvana and ‘90s female alternative acts to ’60s psych and ‘90s neo-psych to horror movies and Black Sabbath—the latter of which is most evident in the breakdown of “You Love Nothing.” Sanchez says “Heart of Darkness,” though, had a much different influence.
“Heart of Darkness was really influenced by blues. The Rolling Stones wrote a lot of really bluesy stuff, especially in the beginning,” she says. “I was messing around with different tuning on my guitar and that really is a blues tuning but I dropped one of the notes really, really low. When you drop a note that low it makes it like a dark blues tuning and that’s how that song got its feel.”
With those three songs released, the band has managed to book some pretty impressive gigs, including this year’s Austin Psych Fest. However, Pai says it’s a matter of building an audience more than a discography.
“We’ve been playing for a long time,” she says. “We started out playing a lot of shitty shows and even though we’ve only released three songs I think we’ve been able to build a reputation just playing as much as we have.”
L.A. Witch will be releasing a new single within the next couple weeks. After that, you can get their 7”, released by Psych Fest’s label Reverberation Appreciation Society, in September with their first full-length album following shortly.