INTERVIEW: Virginia Monti – Psychedelic Witchcraft

Since forming in 2015, Italy’s PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT have been forging their own unique brand of hard rock that celebrates the occult. With heavy influence from the icons of rock’s past, the band have embraced rock music’s deep historical roots to create a sound that is utterly infectious and the band have enjoyed a fruitful rise up the ranks since their formation. Being booked for this year’s Damnation Festival is one such achievement and despite being placed with bands that lie on the heavier end of the musical spectrum, PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT are here to make a lasting impression. Before their show at the festival, we sat down with frontwoman Virginia Monti to talk all about their brand new album, Sound of the Wind, the band’s musical hooks and grooves and what Virginia and the rest of the band are striving to achieve.

So PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT are playing Damnation Festival today, what can fans expect from your show?

Virginia: They can definitely expect a 60s/70s retro sound, put into our personal way. Then we are going to project a movie that we really like; it’s called Lucifer Rising. So we have this entire Egyptian thing going on because I really believe in the Egyptian energy so I hope the crowd will feel our passion for the 70s music!

With Damnation Festival having a lot more heavier bands compared to yourselves on the bill, where do you see yourselves fitting in? Do you think that you can offer something a bit different?

Virginia: Yeah! I was actually very worried when Damnation reached out to us and asked us to play the festival, I was very worried about it. I was telling them “are you sure you want us to play?” because SODOM are playing here, PARADISE LOST, BLOODBATH; you know, bigger and heavier bands. And they told me “yes Virginia we want you, just do your thing and people are going to like it eventually because we want to bring some different sounds.” So yeah, definitely, I know that we are the different ones but I believe in the metal scene, I believe in the metal guys, they are the people that brought PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT to life. I really believe in them.

Playing Damnation today is on the back of your brand new album, Sound of the Wind, which was released yesterday. Do you feel that playing a festival like this is the best way to promote your new album?

Virginia: Absolutely! I am so chuffed about it, I am so proud of this record, we all are! I think it is the best way, to put it out in a big crowd and then we are going to tour at the end of the month in Spain and hopefully we are going to tour Europe in 2018. So I think what PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT has missed in the past is actually communicating with people in touring. Touring and playing live is the best way, not only for promoting our album, but just for communicating with the people better.

And reaching out to people who may not have heard of you before…

Virginia: Exactly! Because of the live sound and the energy that is shared from the stage to the crowd that is what makes people want to see and listen to your music. More than just a record online because we know there are a bunch of records out by very good musicians so live shows are fundamental.

Listening to the album there is a lot of interesting themes and concepts that are explored on that album. What sort of messages were you trying to portray on Sound of the Wind?

Virginia: Basically this album was dedicated to the element of air. We also dedicated the album to the Egyptian Goddess Ma’at, she is the Egyptian Goddess of justice and honesty. So finding a balance between the world and doing the right thing and I think with this album we are doing the right thing. We are expressing ourselves in a very honest way and in the lyrics there are a lot of my personal experiences. So if people are going to like it they are probably going to like my life! And then we have a song called The Warrens which is dedicated to the couple from The Conjuring, the movie, I’m really into horror movies so I always dedicate one song to a horror movie. So all of that mixed together.

Musically, the sound of PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT really harks back to the sounds of the 1970s. I think of LED ZEPPELIN and Jimmy Hendrix, are those influences really crucial when you write?

Virginia: Absolutely they are. They are the bands that teach me how to sing, teach me how to play and how to perceive music. Led Zeppelin II was my first album when I was eight years old and it changed my life completely. Then you obviously have stuff like BLACK SABBATH, Jimmy Hendrix like you said, it was eternal music that no-one will ever play again. Those artists are important, not only for the sound, but because they teach me how to be myself. To be honest. In the 70s there was this entire vibe of the music was communicating to a generation with honesty and I think that it was music does. It’s not about being posey, it’s about I’m a girl in 2017 and I’m going to talk with other girls who are like me, or with men who are like me. These bands are fundamental for the way they put their music across.

I guess it’s important to keep those iconic band’s legacies alive as well…

Virginia: Absolutely, you respect them. I don’t think we are a retro band but we respect the past. You can’t do rock music if you don’t respect those bands, you just can’t. You need to be aware of the past and celebrate it. I think that’s the entire point.

PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT formed in 2015 and two years later you’ve already achieved a lot. What do you think is the key to your success?

Virginia: I don’t even feel I am successful sometimes because on my everyday life I am just a random girl who plays Assassin’s Creed on the PlayStation! [laughs] But, I think it just honesty, I never sit on the table and plan to do a band. I just took my guitar, wrote songs and said to people “look this is me, you want to hear it?” I think the metal scene is the most amazing scene that we have right now, because the people really feel the music. They are the only people that are bothered to follow emerging bands and to push them. I am so grateful to the people, people brought me to Damnation. Without them I would be nothing and this for me is real. I was just a random girl from Italy, a small town in Italy. The people online, the people that go to metal gigs, they made me do what I am doing and I will always be grateful for that.

And really just to round up, once you have played Damnation, what’s next for PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT? Is it more touring?

Virginia: Yes, we want to! Obviously it is hard as you always have to plan things but we are touring Spain at the end of the month and then hopefully we are talking with the booking agencies so we can go on a bigger tour. That’s the main goal and then in May we are going to the recording studio and recording a new album.

So just keeping the momentum going?

Virginia: Yes! We write a lot, I write a lot and my vision is to have four albums. My vision, the first one, was for the fire. Sound of the Wind was for the air, then I want to have another album for water and earth; the four elements of the cosmos. And one per year, that’s my vision.

That’s a really concept to aim for, as then it would be a really nice package of albums…

Virginia: I had this vision in mind two years ago and I want to proceed with it. After the four albums we’ll see, but I know deep down in myself, that I need to do this. I want to celebrate the cosmos’ elements because for me, as a witch, they were so important. I always did rituals with the natural elements and I’m very into that, they gave me a lot and I want to celebrate that part of the occult.

Well brilliant, best of luck for today at Damnation and for what the future brings!

Virginia: Thank you so much!

Sound Of The Wind is out now via Listenable Records.