Interview – L.A. Witch

L.A. Witch © Marco Hernandez

Sade Sanchez Talks: Social Media, California and Venue Closure

By Isobel Mcleod

L.A. Witch’s name is already synonymous with punk rock attitude and a flare for rock and roll. The trio comprised of Sade Sanchez, Irita Pai and Ellie English are all California natives, and their music reflects this. Drawing influence from a range of genres and eras each song is a melting pot of all these sounds. After years of touring and the odd single, their fanbase is strong and loyal, and their second album is everything they could have asked for. With a sultry coolness, yet moments of vulnerability it shows a maturity that can only come with time. A few days before the release, I was able to chat to Sadie about the release of ‘Play With Fire’ and more.

Have a listen to the album while you read:

How are you feeling about the album release?

  • I’m so excited! I’ve had like this anxiety, and we had this little countdown going so knowing it’s only 4 more days!  A lot of people who pre-ordered the record have already received it, so they’re already giving their feedback, they said they love it so I’m really excited to hear what everyone has to say about it.

What song are you most looking forward to people hearing?

  • Oh man it’s so hard to pick! Obviously, ‘I Wanna Lose’ was the first song that we released because we felt like it was our strongest song, I really love that song and the guitar playing in it. I think it’s really cool. Also, ‘True Believers’ is like super punk rock. It’s so hard because every song is different and being the creator of these songs, they’re all like your babies so it’s really hard to say.

You’ve spoken about the track Gen-Z being about teenagers and mental health, how do you use music to help your own mental health?

  • I think for me that was the reason I started playing music and wanting to learn guitar. As a teenager being really isolated where I grew up and kind of being an introvert and having a hard time communicating with others, I found this instrument that allowed me to communicate almost on a different level because sometimes it’s hard to word your feelings and stuff, so when creating sounds it’s almost a little bit easier. Recently, I’ve been working more on how to write songs and think with people in mind that might be going through things. A lot of the older songs were love songs and about heartbreak but I kinda wanna expand on the themes a little bit more. When reading this article, or reading several articles, about teenagers today and their struggle with social media, even people who aren’t teenagers, like myself. I’m sure there are plenty of other adults in the world today who struggle with that anxiety and pressure.

Definitely, and the fact that it is constantly there as well, unless you force yourself away there is no escape from it.

  • You’re a product of your environment and it’s really a challenging thing. I mean I’m just glad I have music for me personally and for my own mental health I have that escape and hopefully I can provide that for other people in some other form whether that’s listening or inspiring them to play music.

How does and has social media changed the way you function as a band? Has it had a big influence?

  • I mean definitely, I think we were lucky, I remember when Instagram first started we were kinda on it straight away. I don’t do too much, I do the stories on Instagram, but I don’t do facebook or the hard posts, Irita does all that. She’s been so fucking amazing at doing that! I do my own personal Instagram, but its kinda a lot of pressure. It has been a very essential tool as far as getting the word out and connecting with fans, so you kinda have to go with the flow of what the rest of the world is doing, and it’s really hard not to. I mean I’m not saying you have to do social media, like I’ve known of bands in the past or present who don’t do social media and they’ve been extremely successful. But for us, it was more helpful than not. But everyone is different, like look at Fugazi, they never had any merch or hardly anything but they’re one of the most influential bands in punk rock.

What sort of bands have influenced this record?

  • You know what, when I’m writing I try not to listen to much music, I listen to classical and that’s about it because it’s hard to knock that off. I don’t want to accidentally or subconsciously rip off another band, I want it to come purely from myself. So, when I’m writing I try to just stay away. Also, I do this thing where I compare my music or my writing style to someone else, and then it kinda messes me up. Overall, our influences are deeply rooted in a lot of like punk rock, post-punk and classic rock and roll. I mean I listen to everything, like I listen to trap and I listen to electronic just like everything. I’m sure there’s a lot of pieces of all those things. In interviews we’ve always said bands like The Wipers and Echo and the Bunnymen, Johnny Thunders, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Mazzy Star, it’s pretty obvious at times. The music you listen to is always gonna sneak it’s way into a record, but if you can keep it as honest as it can be that’s what matters.
L.A. Witch © Marco Hernandez

Are you based in California?

  • Yeah! I live in East LA and the girls both live in Burbank, we’re not far and all born and raised in LA.

How was that, growing up in LA? To me it seems pretty magical

  • I’m not going to lie, it really is, like when we tour and stuff, I fall in love with everywhere that I go to. Like ‘I’m going to move here and here’ and then I come home, and I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking, I fucking love it here, it’s my home! I’ve also seen a lot of different places and I think it’s safe for me to say that it’s home for me. It just holds so much energy just from the history of Los Angeles, like the music history and cinema and just the landscaping. We have the ocean, the mountains, like I was just in the desert. Technically it’s all a desert, but we have a lot of cool, very interesting terrain which is a huge benefit.

For a first timer in LA, where is the first place you’d recommend?

  • Well I guess it depends on what you’re into, like if you’re into hiking or if you want to go to the city.

Let’s say like a bar or music venue?

  • I guess one of the popular places to go to, I would say the The Echo is pretty cool, also The Hi-Hat. But I think they may have recently closed down. A lot of venues are struggling.

Ah is it the same in the US, where all the music venues are having a tough time?

  • It’s been really tough, it’s really hard to see a lot of these places, you know where we did some of our first shows and they’re just no longer there.

It’s exactly the same here, going past places where I went to my first gigs and there’s no signs of them re-opening.

L.A. Witch © Marco Hernandez

How has the pandemic influenced the release of the album?

  • Well it’s definitely made things challenging, but at the same time, it’s made it so that we definitely have to rely on technology and social media because that’s our communication with the outside world. We’ve been trying to make it interesting, for example having a trailer for each song and adding more visual aspect to it which is something I’ve always wanted to do and so this kinda forced us to do it even more by having something to go along with the actual audio. I’d definitely like to do more music videos and stuff like that. The hardest part really is not being able to play live shows.

Do you think you’re going to be able to plan any soon?

  • Supposedly we’re going to Europe in September, but I can’t remember. I’m trying not to have any expectations, like ‘alright if you guys say so!’. Realistically I don’t know how it would work, and from what I’ve heard it won’t be possible until the end of 2021 which is just crazy. So I think right now what we’re doing is a live stream which we’re in talks about and we’re going to try and do one of those and make it cool. (Album Release Party Stream)

After the album have you got anything coming next?

  • We don’t have anything planned, but we have so much time right now which is something we don’t normally have because of touring and stuff, so I think we’re all just going to write. Like keep on writing and providing more music and just creating and going crazy.

Have you found this period good for writing and creating?

  • Yeah it has been! Just the fact that I don’t have to go somewhere so I can sit down and put all my pedals out and really focus on it. Or if I wanted to change up the style or mess with different instruments, I finally have the time to do that.

What pedals do you use?

  • When I’m playing live I use the DD3, the delay pedal and a DF4 which is a super distortion feedbacker, it’s this orange pedal and when you keep your foot on it, it creates feedback which is my favourite thing about it. I also use the TS9, Ibanez Tubescreamer, and I have a few earthquaker pedals that I switch up a lot, those pedals are awesome. Any reverb pedal that won’t break I’ll use that. My favourite is the echo park, it’s got a lot of cool digital sounds and stuff.

That’s great, thanks for chatting to me and hopefully see you on tour soon!

I did a review of the album here.

And buy ‘Play With Fire’ and all L.A. Witch’s other merch here.