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Witch Weather: ‘People Are Missing Close Connection’

Queer duo Witch Weather discuss new album and the influence of the DMV on their sound.

Philadelphia-based queer punks Witch Weather have a message for anyone who feels hopeless and worthless: you are not alone. With an irresistible sound that draws from 80’s goth and lo-fi grunge, the indie duo wears their heart on their sleeve, giving voice to complex emotions that many would opt to suppress in the recesses of their minds.

Join Alchemical Records as they connect with Witch Weather to discuss the band’s new self-titled album, their search for a sense of belonging as members of the queer community, the important element that keeps the duo’s creative bond strong, and the influence of the DMV on their sound.

Pennsylvania queer duo Witch Weather pose for a promo photo outside on the street.
Witch Weather - Promo Photo - Courtesy of the Artist.

Witch Weather is comprised of vocalist and guitarist Kaitlynn Autumn and bassist Juliann Frances, with drummer Adrian Hain rounding out the band for live shows and studio recordings.

Music has been an integral part of Kaitlynn and Juliann’s creative expression since childhood.

“I’ve been trying to write music as long as I can remember,” said Kaitlynn. “Like since I was probably like 7 or 8 is the earliest I can remember. I played saxophone when I was younger and would make up my own little songs on that, too. I would say I actually started writing in like 2013 when I had started learning guitar and got a USB mic that I started recording demos on.”

Juliann notes that she had a similar experience. “There were always instruments in our house and I just sort of pretended I knew how to play them as a kid, especially bass, foreshadowing much,” she laughed. “Then around middle school, so probably also about 2013, I started to get into writing. My school was nice enough to let students write and/or arrange for the ensembles, so that’s how I started.”

The D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area also played a role in shaping Kaitlynn’s sound during her formative years.

“My whole family is from the DMV, so I think that had a bigger impact on me than I realized a lot of times,” she explained. “I grew up in a bit more of a rural area, so unfortunately, I wasn’t quite able to fully be involved in the really awesome arts scenes on D.C. or Baltimore until I was a bit older.”

“But even with the slight geographic problems, it was great because I found so much great music and artists, big and small, from the DMV. There’s genuinely been so much great music to come out of there. And being from a bit of a rural area, I think, gave me all kinds of influences from hardcore to folk and bluegrass. Plus, so many tours pass through those areas, which is awesome.”

Pennsylvania queer duo Witch Weather pose for a promo photo next to a no trespassing sign.
Witch Weather - Press Photo - Courtesy of the Artist.

Kaitlynn and Juliann note that they met by chance while students at York College of Pennsylvania, soon forming a lasting bond.

“I had auditioned for the college record label with a few other people in 2019 and fell in love with performing as a band, so I asked Juliann if she wanted to join on bass, and we just kind of went from there,” said Kaitlynn.

“I was really excited when she asked me because I essentially went to college with the intention of being in a band that would make it one day,” added Juliann. “I know that’s sort of an interesting choice. But it was also nerve-wracking because I didn’t know her well at the time, but luckily as time went on, we became really good friends outside of the band, which makes being in a band together all the better.”

With influences including Siouxsie and The Banshees, Against Me!, Fugazi, Depeche Mode, and D.C. post-hardcore legends Fugazi, Witch Weather is carving out their own distinct sound within the indie punk scene. The duo’s self-titled album was released on October 13, and it is a stunning work of art that captivates you from the very first listen.

The opening track, “Trying,” one of Kaitlynn’s favorites from the album, blends a powerful, rhythm-driven composition with vulnerable lyrics that capture the feeling of attempting to make sense of the endless cycle of everyday life. “I’m trying, trying to make do / I’m trying, trying / I’m trying, I’m trying / I’m trying so hard/ To put this to an end,” Kaitlynn sings.

“Hazy,” the second track, is one of the album’s lead singles, and it’s easy to understand why. The song begins with a catchy bass and drum line and builds momentum increasingly to meet the energy of the song themes that explore confusion, frustration, and self-acceptance.

I want peace

I can’t sleep

It’s never nothing new

It’s killing me

I’m killing you

“‘Hazy’ is a song meant for anyone who’s ever felt lost and directionless and maybe just doesn’t even quite want to be alive,” Kaitlynn explained. “The thought, ‘what am I doing here, how did I let myself get to this point,’ was a pretty common one at the time that this song was written. Whether that thought be in reference to being at a truly awful job, stagnating in transition, or a whole host of other problems that were going on.”

I share one of my personal favorites from the album, “Witching Hour,” with Juliann, who notes that she’s “always more into the heavier stuff” and songs that get her “pumped.”

“Witching Hour” is intense and immersive with western twang undertones, a song that was made for live shows. In lockstep with Witch Weather’s signature sound, the track is focused more on conveying a feeling rather than articulating a particular message through its lyrics. And within this expansive environment, the bass guitar takes center stage to a captivating effect.

In popular music, bass is all too often used as a supporting instrument, bowing to the guitar, but as evidenced by “Witching Hour,” Witch Weather shifts the paradigm, allowing the bass to be seen in all of its glory through Juliann.

“I think I was attracted to bass because it often is overshadowed by guitar, but then I saw bands like Rush and Royal Blood breaking that stereotype,” she explained. “To me, bass allowed for me creativity, freedom, and writing opportunities given the right setting. So yes, with Witch Weather, I get to write my own little supporting melody most of the time rather than just sitting back and following the rhythm guitar.”

Witch Weather’s album also includes some lighter notes like “Blue Menace,” a song that Kaitlynn says makes her happy. And speaking of merry vibes, congratulations are in order for Kaitlynn who recently married on October 28 in a Halloween-themed ceremony. It goes without saying that Halloween is a favorite time of the year for Witch Weather.

“Halloween is like the one day (and also the whole month) of the year that I live for,” said Kaitlynn. In honor of her nuptials, Kaitlynn’s costume this year was a spooky vampiric wedding dress with fangs. “But also, I dressed up as Raven (Teen Titans) and a different vampire on other occasions,” she added.

Juliann agrees that Halloween is also her favorite holiday. “Honestly, Halloween starts like mid-September for me. I was Starfire (Teen Titans) this year, and I celebrated by playing spooky music in my parents’ driveway with my dad and some friends for the trick or treaters.”

Pennsylvania queer duo Witch Weather perform live at Phantom Power in Millersville, Pennsylvania.
Witch Weather perform live at Phantom Power in Millersville, Pennsylvania.

Many of Witch Weather’s songs are influenced by the search of a sense of belonging, with Kaitlynn’s introspective lyrics rooted in her experience as a trans woman.

“I probably would have never come out of I didn’t find a sense of belonging with the queer community,” she explained. “I really hope to be able to foster that community for others as well because without it, I probably wouldn’t be alive.”

Further, Kaitlynn and Juliann note that the search for a sense of belonging is ubiquitous to the human experience, allowing Witch Weather’s music to resonate widely with diverse audiences.

“Not to bring up the pandemic, but it definitely made a lot of people’s experience of feeling isolated worse, and I don’t really think we’ve come out of that yet,” Juliann shared. “I think it changed a lot of people’s habits socially, ones that were already starting to develop due to our current landscape, and then the pandemic just expedited that process. I think finding good friends and a community as an adult is harder than ever.”

“Having a sense of belonging and community is important regardless of who you are,” Kaitlynn added. “Not to be all ‘we live in a society’ right now, but I think a lot of people are missing that sense of close connection in their lives and that can be really devastating, speaking as someone who was really isolated for a long time. It’s not always easy to find, but it’s extremely worth it.”

When asked for the most important message that they want listeners to take away from the album, Kaitlynn replied, “Catharsis is cool and ignoring stressful thoughts will make them worse.”

“I second that,” said Juliann.

Be sure to follow Witch Weather @_witch_weather_ for the latest news. For any readers in the Philly area, Juliann says that their upcoming Dec. 1 show at Ankle Pit is not to be missed.

Cynthia Gross

Cynthia Gross is a freelance writer and award-winning spiritual pop artist based in Maryland. With more than a decade of experience as an executive ghostwriter, she understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.

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