Fresh off the back of his sophomore release on the forever glorious label 'Captured Tracks', we spoke to Craft Spells' leading man Justin Vallesteros about his latest effort 'Nausea' and the elements that contributed to the record's development.
Did you make a conscious effort not to regurgitate the lo-fi sound of ‘Idle Labor’ and embrace a more traditional and sophisticated instrumentation? Do you associate the sound of that record with a different you?
Idle labor was a product of limitations; I didn't own any of the equipment during that album. Over time I acquired better equipment after the first album and spent a lot of time experimenting with atmosphere and detail. Idle labor was a good representation of where I was at during that time, living with my parents in Lathrop and having no idea that one day someone would put the record out. I'm on the 2nd record and have toured all around, I'm a very different person but still shocked that I got to do any of this at all.
You have maintained a very clean sound throughout your musical career but with the garage rock and DJ scene blossoming in the Bay City Area, was there ever any moment where you felt that you wanted to embrace a more raucous or electronically driven sound?
Sure, I feel more comfortable as a producer than musician so I do electronic music in my spare time. You can find it on soundcloud called Glass Mural. If you like jazz and drum n bass you should take a listen.
Abandoning your guitar and writing in isolation, how did the piano-led song-writing process impact the band? Emotionally, has it made Craft Spells a more sorrowful band?
I'm emotionally attached to the piano, it gave me complete visual/sonic control than the guitar at the time. Nausea is a pretty accurate account of my life, and I always find the light at the end. You will find optimism in the music overall. Like most people I'm capable of being self aware and finding the root of my feelings and finding myself out of the pain.
Recording in your parents house, did the comfort of being at home help you come to terms with the nauseous feelings that thematically dominate the record?
Yes, there's something about writing in the bedroom that I grew up in during my teen years. It felt good to be alone in the evenings with nobody to bother me, decompressing from my overly saturated life was really relieving.
You cite Emitt Rhodes as an influence, did you discover his music from your parent’s record collection?
Emitt was actually introduced to my by Owen Kline who was actually working at the captured tracks record store. I heard "live till you die" and I was instantly hooked. The songs on the B side of 'Emitt Rhodes' are absolutely perfect.
Conceding that you felt a semi-addiction to social media (an issue that no doubt plagues many of us today), was music the key in escaping this disillusionment?
Just spending time with myself and being okay with it was sobering enough. Reading in the park, making music, writing.
Will we see Craft Spells touring in the UK soon?
Words : George Hemmati