• About A Band: LA Witch

    A loud clamor of vintage furniture and knick-knacks falling to the floor echoes from the back of a Philadelphia antique shop. Irita Pai whips her head toward the sound and mutters “whoopsie.” Not a childish utterance or an admission of guilt, but more an innate reaction.

    Her band mate, Ellie English sighs, “It wasn’t me,” in a high-pitched timbre. 

    “It was in the way back, I swear,” Irita says to an employee.

    The third member of their band, L.A. Witch, Sade Sanchez, watches from the wings as Irita scurries toward the front of the store. 

    As their name implies, L.A. Witch are a band from the Southern California city of the same designation. Touring often takes them across the country — the trio has traveled through all but two continental U.S. states (the Dakotas) — but this time, they’re in Philly for a Halloween party. Ours, in fact. We threw a massive bash with tons of UO employees to show how we celebrate Halloween. What's a party without some music? Of course we needed L.A. Witch to soundtrack the scene.

    It's the day before the trio are set to star in our first UO Live 360, a performance set in an eerie haunted mansion. The video, below, is fully immersive: scroll around and see the band perform or check out the Halloween party taking form. There are innumerable ways to watch the clip of their song "Brian," so don't try to watch it just once.

    Watch our first UO Live in 360 above, read our interview with the band and check out scenes from our big day (before the big night) with L.A. Witch below. 
    Photos by Michael James Murray and CJ Harvey

    It would be too easy to categorize the band as something confined solely to the likes of costumes and spooky anecdotes since the specificity of their name is only surface material. On their self-titled 3-song release, vocalist Sade offers an ominous warning in a mid-range pulse: “Get lost from my soul.” Elsewhere throughout L.A. Witch’s now richly condensed repertoire, Irita’s bass lines drive and thunder; Sade’s guitar wavering between surf-rock and garage grit, her vocals hypnotizing; Ellie’s drumming methodical, the hits of her cymbals piercing through the steady walls of guitar and bass. It’s movies for ‘70s road trip films, fast moving and sultry, kicking up plumes of dust along the way. 

    An L.A. Witch is an all-encompassing term, they say. It can be anyone or anything with any attitude. 

    “I just say I’m a bad one all the time,” Irita claims of her good witch versus bad witch status.

    Even with a geographical peg to their moniker, there’s no mistake in the girls’ identity, their brand, their home: unabashedly L.A.

    “That’s where we’re all from and that’s always going to be where we’re all from,” Ellie says, long strands of curly red hair billowing across her face. 
    “We’re still LA girls for sure,” Irita concurs, face illuminated by the late summer sun.

    All three band members were born and raised — and currently live — in Los Angeles, a city they frequently describe as perfect: for weather, for music, for Sade’s new motorcycle, but not for thrifting. 

    “We love thrift store shopping, especially in weird states because everything is so much cheaper. In L.A., everything is so fucking expensive,” Sade says, interrupting herself to admire a tchotchke. “You can’t go thrifting in L.A.”

    Whatever their hometown lacks in affordable vintage shopping, the rest of the world makes up for in fashion and experience. The constant thrill of performing keeps them perpetually in motion. 

    Since 2013, the band, in its current form, has worked through residencies, gaining confidence on stage and learning the business side of the music industry, but first began with a fleeting member. 

    L.A. Witch’s original drummer left for a trip to New York City to visit her boyfriend and never came home. Sade and Irita booked return flights to no avail. They were in the midst of a residency that she had organized with no backup drummer. 

    “She wanted to come back and I was like ‘I’d rather have no drummer at all,’” Sade remembers.

    Upon Ellie’s joining, the band expanded from their steady L.A.-based shows and toured heavily, taking Polaroid pictures along the way, which were eventually packaged into the limited-run 7-inch of their self-titled EP, released in 2014. It’s mementos like that or the personal touch of designing their own tour merch that add an element of humanness to L.A. Witch’s gritty-sounding material. They’ve been riding the momentum of the 7-inch since, having played shows with The Kills and The Coathangers. 

    “You have to be in the moment constantly,” Ellie says. “Every day is a new life.”

    “Once you start living like that, your life becomes easier because you’re not worried about the future or the past because that shit doesn’t exist,” Sade continues. “In terms of worrying about things that don’t exist, once you start living more in the present, then you’re like ‘I’m having a great time!’”

    It’s sometimes taxing to maintain a levelheaded approach to art, especially when there are financial components behind it. But when it comes to the alternative — a full-time job with benefits, a little extra spending cash — the liberation is more than money can buy. 

    “Even though I had all that stuff, I was not happy and I didn’t even know I was unhappy until I got fired,” Sade recalls. “It was the scariest thing for me because I pretty much got fired because of the band, but it was something I knew had to happen. Once that happened, I felt free.”

    Listen to LA Witch