Irita Pai is the bass player with the coolest band in Los Angeles right now, L.A. Witch, along with Sade Sanchez (guitar/vocals) and Ellie English (drums). During the past year I've been fortunate enough to work with the band as a designer, producing graphiks and buttons for them.
L.A. Witch seem to be the perfect band to be playing a house party in the Hollywood Hills. Their music is dark and languid, and would probably be best filed under "American Noir". The reverb-drenched single Get Lost was released in 2014 and is a potent mixture of the best elements of early-Nineties British psychedelia and mid-Sixties garage rock.
The band have just completed a North American tour including appearances at the Levitation Festivals in Austin and Vancouver, and their next record will be out later this year on Lolipop Records. I'm really glad that I got the chance to catch up with Irita for this interview.
How did the tour go?
Tour was rad — we got to visit a lot of places we'd never been to before — Austin, Memphis and Chicago. Levitation and Levitation Vancouver were so much fun. We're going back out again in August with Death Valley Girls.
Did you have a favourite place to play?
Our best shows have been in Mexico and Canada — the crowd outside the U.S. is really into live music and music in general, and their energy was contagious. We had the best time.
What were you listening to in the van?
A lot of early Cure, Wipers, Rowland S. Howard, Eighties shoegaze. People end up bringing us tapes or CDs of their band, and we actually listen to them all. Sixty percent of our time on tour is spent on driving and listening to music.
I've been listening to the first Cure album a lot recently, it's really good driving music! What, or who, originally inspired you to play bass?
I was originally playing keys when we were jamming, before we had a band name or played any shows, as I had been playing piano since I was 6. There was a bass lying around in the rehearsal space, so I literally just picked it up on the spot.
L.A. Witch are a very visual band. What kind of things inspire you aesthetically?
Seventies exploitation films, DIY punk flyers from the Seventies and Eighties, old school horror movies, Southern California culture, Surrealism, vintage Japanese art magazines.
I was pretty freaked-out the first time I went to Los Angeles, but since then I've grown to love it and understand it's beauty.
L.A. is the best. The weather is amazing, everyone is super chill, and having a car (vs. having to rely on public transport) really gives you the freedom and accessibility to go wherever you want, whenever you want.
What interesting bands are coming out of Los Angeles at the moment?
Some of my favorites are Corners, Cosmonauts, Ancestors, Zig Zags.
There seems to be a Los Angeles tradition of producing studio musician-type bands that lacked the funkiness of East Coast bands. I can't think of anywhere else where that exists. Do you feel part of a scene or new wave of L.A. bands?
I definitely think there's a new generation of music that's coming up right now in Los Angeles, and it's cool to see it develop and grow. Really excited to see what happens next.
What do you do outside of L.A. Witch?
Learn drums, take photos, and buy for our online shop Kill My Baby Tonight
When is your record coming out?
Shooting for late Summer, early Fall!
Can't wait to hear it! What are the pros and cons of touring?
PROs: Travel stops, meeting cool people and eating weird food, playing music every night. CONs: No sleep, lots of driving, rushing to make soundcheck.
What are your currently obsessed with?
German Expressionism, Mystery Train by Jim Jarmusch, Krautrock, Bret Easton Ellis novels, and the soundtrack to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
You can keep up-to-date with L.A. Witch on their website HERE