Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Interview with Psychedelic Witchcraft's Virginia Monti

Psychedelic Witchcraft is a amazing up-and-coming Italian occult rock/doom metal act that is lead by vocalist/guitarist Virginia Monti. Originally conceived of as a one-woman band, with the project's fantastic EP "Black Magic Man" receiving universal praise from critics and fans(!), Psychedelic Witchcraft is already on the cusp of greatness with world-wide acclaim (and then complete domination!) merely a matter of time! Thanks to Virginia's hauntingly beautiful (and frankly-speaking soul captivating!!!) voice and a vast array of influences that range from Jefferson Airplane to Trouble (!!) this Italian band has a sound comparable to none. At the end of the day "Black Magic Man" is one of those rare metallic recordings where style, sound and substance somehow manage to merge with charisma and charm on a sub atomic level! To quote the one and only Bruce Campbell, "Groovy!" For more information on "Black Magic Man" be sure to read my review here. Without further ado it is my extreme pleasure to share this interview that I recently conducted with band-founder/vocalist Virginia Monti. I want to thank her for taking the time to talk with Heavy Metal Time Machine about Psychedelic Witchcraft and the exceptional "Black Magic Man". If you haven't heard the EP for yourself then be sure to check it out after you are done here.

Andy-Could you tell us the origins of Psychedelic Witchcraft?

Virginia-I don't want to sound too presumptuous, but the origins of this project starts really from me. I was dreaming since I was a kid of having a rock band (Editor's note: I shared that same dream...only without the ability to sing, play an instrument or for that matter have any musical talent whatsoever!) I've been always singing and writing by my own, I did play in some cover bands here in Italy. But finally this year I felt it was the right time to start my thing, and to finally mix together all the stuff that I love in one little project. So I take courage started writing new songs and post just one online ("Angela") and then the journey begun. It was amazing, especially the reaction of people really I am so thankful to everyone. Because they let me do what I love and they make it real to have a real band that talks a little bit about the occult and witchcraft and all this creepy stuff that I love but at the same time without taking it too seriously and always enjoying the fact that is rock music ...and you know ...we all want to have fun with it.

Andy-What's in a name?

Virginia-Well I had in mind for like months to do a band that could mix together all the things that I love. And when I actually started to think about it seriously I thought that mixing psychedelic elements with witchcraft for me would be the best choice. So why psychedelic? Because I literally am in love with lots of psychedelic music from the 70' like 13th floor elevators , Pink Floyd , Jefferson Airplane and many others and at the same time my love for the 70' it's also for the colors of that era, those wonderful clothes and the free way of living in general, so I wanted to express all this stuff together and also I didn't want to sound too doom, because it is not in my character. I do have a "doom" part of me but also there is a part of me which is very positive and free ...I definitely feel like I am a wild spirit in search of adventures. Then my witchcraft? It's a other big old story. Since I was a kid I have fallen in love with the occult. I have a huge collection of occult readings and also movies. And tarots for example. I am so in love with the cards and all of their meanings, in fact one of my songs "Slave of Grief" talks about the tarots. It is sort of a musical lecture of tarots and feelings. So yeah I choose the name Psychedelic Witchcraft because it was the best name to express all this stuff mixed together.

Andy-Thanks for filling us in on the driving force behind your band. Now, Psychedelic Witchcraft has been descried as many things. Some call it seventies rock while others say it's stoner rock and even doom. Meanwhile most fans and critics agree that Psychedelic Witchcraft is occult rock. What would you call your project Virginia?

Virginia-I  wrote that it was occult rock for me. Because yes, I love 70' music but I didn't want to copy anyone especially from the 70' because I am not that good (Editor's note: I disagree as you are great!). So yes, 70' music it's a huge inspiration but I guess I take...we try to take that inspiration and make it more modern without being too modern. When I write I want to stay true to what I like and even when I recorded the EP I didn't want to sound fake. I wanted to be close I as I could to what is real. So we did just two takes for each instrument and that was it! Even if there are mistakes in it I decided it was good like this. I didn't want to be perfect at all. Then about doom and stoner ..I love doom and stoner music. Especially doom. But I don't think I am doom or stoner at all because Psychedelic Witchcraft is not that heavy. But, I am looking forward to write heavier songs ...so who knows. It's just that I don't know in what genres I am more comfortable in because most of the time it happens that I just write what I feel and I am not able to be just in a line ...I really like to explore sounds and be myself and stay true.

Andy- Fair enough. Let's talk about those sounds for a minute. "Angela" is a great single in it's own right, but then you turned around and add three equally stellar songs to the equation. Were these songs that you already had fleshed out or were any of them created out of studio chemistry?

Virginia-When I posted online "Angela" it was the only song that I wrote for the EP. Because I mean I didn't expect such a good reaction. Then I thought wow, if people like "Angela"  I should try to write more songs and try to do a real EP just to see how it goes and to push myself towards a thing that I have never done before. So I wrote the other 3 songs of the EP I think in 1 week. I stayed alone in my house concentrate on myself and wrote the song. Then I went to Lorenzo and I said "We have to record these songs. Can you learn it for me?" We sat and he learned it in one day and then a week or two after that we were in the studio.

Psychedelic Witchcraft's "Angela":

Andy-That's a crazy short turn around time there! Now speaking of Lorenzo Bianchi, "Black Magic Man" has him listed as a guest guitarist. Otherwise was it just you?

Virginia-Oh Lorenzo I met him the other day at the supermarket of my town LOL! He is an incredible guitar player and a old friend of mine. But he didn't want to be in this project full time. It was a shame because I think he was perfect for it ...but maybe that's the way it should be? But anyway, Lorenzo played the lead guitar and all the solos because I wasn't able to do it the way that I wanted. Also he did play the general bass line. So thanks god for him !!!! Then I played the main guitar and I wrote all the songs. All the riffs and lyrics, etc. I also directed everything when we were recording. Lorenzo was great because if you tell him "Hey play this song" in one minute he understands and he does what you asked him to do. So, it was magic! Then another friend of mine played the drums. Again he didn't wanted to be in the band and he didn't want his name on the EP so I am not going to tell. So after two days of recordings they left me and it was a shame as I told you...

Andy-Do you mean to tell me "Black Magic Man" was recorded over the course of two days? That's all it took? It sounds so professional!

Virginia-Uh wow, thanks. Yeah it took 2 days because I knew what I wanted from this EP. By the time that we got to the studio I had already decided everything. So it was very easy. We worked day and night very hard. We did only 2 takes for instrument and that was it. It was magical like I said and it was also very fun to do because for all of us this was the first time in a real studio.

Andy-That's incredible Virginia and I agree it's all so magical! You've said that all of this was just for fun and yet it sounds as if the response has been overwhelming! Are you amazed by the response or did you get a sense of how good the EP was when you finished it?

Virginia-I was in shock and I am still in shock honestly. When I was recording and I listened to the songs (even if they were not mixed yet) I thought that they were nice songs that I wanted to listen to. Because it was for fun I wanted to do songs that I would like to listen to. That was the main goal, just for myself. Then I saw the reaction of people ...and wow ...no I am still in shock definitely!!!

Andy-I know I speak for a lot of people here when I say that I am glad you decided to share your music with everyone! Honestly, "Black Magic Man" is fantastic and now it looks as if it will see a vinyl release!  Beyond that do you have any immediate plans for your project? Have you considered adding a full band to the mix in order to do live shows?

Virginia-Yeah, the EP is going to be out this summer on Taxi Driver Records. And YES, I have a band. We are working on the songs off of the EP and I have already wrote the full album so we are working. Don't worry. And I can't wait to go out there and do live shows ...I really need to be on stage and share for real my music to see even if this thing is working for real. So yeah can't wait ..

Andy-That's good news about the band and the full album. It makes me wish though that i could be right there to witness your live show. Let me ask you Virginia how can fans support your project?

Virginia-They already did a great and amazing job! I am so grateful ..but what can they do more? Just buy the vinyl. Ahhahaha yeah!

Andy-Will do! So, where can people go to find out more about you and your band?

Virginia-They can follow the Facebook Page by searching for Psychedelic Witchcraft or go to the bandcamp for music and youtube channel for videos. I usually wrote everything on the Facebook Page so you can also write to us and to me there. And I also have instagram. You just have to search again for psychedelicwitchcraft and you'll find me there :)

Andy- I've got to say Virginia that I consider myself a good man. I'm a single father of two teenagers and an all-around responsible guy. Yet here I am ready to abandon everything in order to follow you and Psychedelic Witchcraft all over Italy! What is the power source behind that kind of magic? How does your music have that kind of pull?

Virginia-Uh Wow!!! I don't know. Maybe a pact with Lucifer? Ahahha really I don't know. I felt blessed everyday just for having the chance to be out there with my music and to meet cool and great musicians along the way. It's a dream for me...a small dream for a small project. So I just have to say thank you to the people...I always said this..you make it real for me.

Andy-Well, thank you for the music and for taking the time to chat with us. I always let artists have the last word. Is there anything we didn't touch upon that you would like to address?

Virginia-Uh well I think I have answered a lot of questions in general during this day and interview. I don't know. I am a simple girl that by accident is in this incredible adventure with music. I just hope that people can feel this and they can relate to me and to my songs in this way. That's all I have to say. I like to stay humble and be a genuine person...and I like to stay true to myself. That's all that matters.

Andy-I completely agree...

Be sure to keep an eye out this summer for the vinyl release of "Black Magic Man" and if you wish to follow this great new band (and why wouldn't you?) be sure to click "like" on the group's Facebook page.
Yes, I am haunted by those eyes and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

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