Q&A: Leanne Kelly / New Spell

in SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?
Music has always felt like an almost magical force in my life, each song with the power to enchant the listener. I knew I wanted a name that would capture that feeling, and at the time I was listening heavily to a friend of a friend’s band called Cryptacize (featuring former Deerhoof guitarist Chris Cohen). They had a song called “New Spell” from their album ‘Mythomania’ – the words resonated with me and our project name was born.

How would you describe your sound?
New Spell describes itself as Dark Indie Pop. There are singer-songwriter influences to my writing, and an increasing use of electronic and synth elements in the production. It is rhythmic and heavy at times, melancholic or uplifting at others, and has been compared to Beach House, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, and Chromatics.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
I started playing piano when I was 5 years old, wrote my first song in 5th grade, and continued playing/studying music through high school and college. Music was and is a big part of my family, and songwriting has always been an important way for me to process/manage feelings and connect with others.

What does music mean to you?
I think music’s meaning to me is best summarized by this quote, by violinist Yehudi Menuhin: “Music is a therapy. It is a communication far more powerful than words, far more immediate, far more efficient.“

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
My longtime musical collaborator Jacob Frautschi and I met back in college and have been exchanging musical ideas and influences ever since. We met producer Max Savage through local events – sharing the stage with his previous project Stages of Sleep. Max started producing our music back in 2015 and he’s really helped New Spell shape its sound into what it is today.

What’s the biggest challenge in becoming a musician today?
We are currently in a time where there is a ton of great music out there – so many independent artists putting out incredible stuff. The challenge is in being heard through the noise and in growing the music passion into a profession. There are so many different hats that today’s musicians have to wear. In addition to the creative aspects, there is an expectation to be in charge of social media, marketing, promotion, booking, business, and so forth. It’s also incredibly hard to earn a living. But to be able to make music is a gift that makes it all worthwhile.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
It’s hard to pick a favorite at this time! After being starved for live music for the past few years, every return to a beloved venue feels like receiving a warm embrace from a long-lost friend.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
On Thursday, June 23rd, 2022, New Spell is returning to the stage for the first time since pre-pandemic. Join us at Amados (998 Valencia St, SF) alongside local artists Adam Brookes and LOUIZA. The show starts at 7:30 pm.

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.