By Gilbert Ward Kane
L.A. Witch are an all-female 3 piece garage/psych band from, you guessed it, Los Angeles, California. The band consists of guitarist and singer Sade Sanchez, bassist Irita Pai, and drummer Ellie English. This year marks the third straight year they’ve played Desert Daze. Every year, their popularity has grown. Three years ago, they were a relatively unknown yet surprisingly talented band. This year, they are a very well-known, still talented band supporting their first full length album titled L.A. Witch. They have been consistently touring and drawing bigger and bigger crowds all while only having a few singles released – one of which was their first vinyl release, which was co released on their own Black Mass Recordings and local vinyl only label, Ruined Vibes. They have graced the pages of Thrasher Magazine and Spin and there is no sight of slowing down. If you make it to Desert Daze, you NEED to check this band out. Irita Pai took time out of their European tour to answer a few questions for us.
Coachella Valley Weekly: How did you get started playing music?
Irita Pai: “My parents started me on piano when I was 6, which I resented at the time but am now super grateful for. I feel like it’s easier for me to pick up an instrument. I started playing bass when we formed the band.”
CVW: What music inspired you the most when you started playing music?
Irita: “Gun Club, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Rolling Stones, Dead Moon.”
CVW: Can you tell me a bit about the formation of the band?
Irita: “I had been jamming with some girlfriends and a mutual friend introduced us to Sade. When our original drummer moved to New York, we went through a string of drummers before Sade brought Ellie in. They had been in a 2 piece band together in high school.”
CVW: You ladies have had some major steam behind you. You went from being a local band to touring to being pretty well known in a short amount of time. Has this taken you by surprise?
Irita: “Yes! I mean really all we wanted to do was play music together. I never really thought about a future in music, and I never thought I’d end up being on tour all the time. A lot of it has to do with Phil Pirrone, who is our booking agent and also the founder of Moon Block Party and Desert Daze. We were still playing a lot locally, when we got invited to play Desert Daze. It was our first big festival and we had such an amazing time playing, seeing a bunch of amazing bands that I used to listen to when I was a kid, and camping under the stars. After that Phil offered to start helping us book shows, and the rest is history.”
CVW: Local desert label Ruined Vibes co-released your first 7″ with your own label, Black Mass Recordings. How did you guys hook up with Ruined Vibes?
Irita: “We actually met Jason (Hall) from Ruined Vibes when we played in Austin for the first time after Levitation. It was at Hotel Vegas. He came up to us and said he really loved our music, and he wanted to help us out a 7″. We exchanged info then. I try not to have any expectations – we meet a lot of people and sometimes talks and ideas never come to fruition. Luckily that didn’t happen in this case, and we ended up working together and they put out our first physical release.”
CVW: Your full length album finally dropped on Suicide Squeeze records. How long have you been working on the album?
Irita: “Some of the songs we have been playing since we started playing, some are songs that were written either on tour or between tours.”
CVW: Have you started working on any new music?
Irita: “Yes! It’s hard with the amount of touring we’ve been doing to sit down down and work on new songs. But it’s definitely happening.”
CVW: L.A. Witch has played several Desert Daze. Can you tell us a bit about your experiences with the festival?
Irita: “Desert Daze is one of my favorite festivals. It has a really DIY feel and it’s sort of like a family reunion every year. Our friends are always on tour and we only run into them in random places in Europe or the US, so it’s always great to see everyone and catch up.”
CVW: What is your favorite place to tour?
Irita: “Europe is great. I love Berlin and Paris. I want to move there one day.”
CVW: What are the immediate plans for L.A. Witch? More touring?
Irita: “We have a 6-week US/Canada tour coming up, a week off and then we go to Australia. We have a couple local shows before the holidays and then we plan on working on new songs for the next album.”
CVW: What music are you currently listening to that you can’t get enough of?
Irita: “I’ve been listening to a lot of Television Personalities, Galaxie 500, and Grinderman.”