Craft Spells, Brewer of Magical Bedroom Pop, Talks Shamanism and the Evils of Suburbs

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Craft Spells plays Milk Bar on November 11'th

Between widely accessible studio programs and the Internet, the bedroom is becoming a semi-pro recording studio and distribution center. If you haven't noticed the positive effect this has had on prodigy songwriters yet, turn your ears to Craft Spells. Stockton's Justin Vallesteros may not be Prince, but it's quite an accomplishment that, at only age 22, he can create a near-perfect pop song like "Party Talk". His Ian Curtis-influenced mutterings are a striking contrast for his twinkly instrumental soundscapes, making us optimistic for his first full length, Idle Labor, which is due in 2011. We talked to Vallesteros about shamanism, the evils of suburbs, and his humble beginnings ahead of Craft Spells' show next Thursday at Milk Bar, where the bedroom project will expand into a full band.


How would you describe your sound without using genres or style names?

Like a cassette tape found in a used convertible labeled Romantic Jamz.

How did the band get together? 

I recorded a couple of songs in my bedroom in the winter of 2009, and threw them on Myspace for my friends to listen to. A month later I was getting messages from music blogs asking for more.

Inspiration for the band name: Some of my friends who first listened to my tunes often used the word 'magical', and at that time I was very obsessed with reading about shamans and indigenous tribes. So I decided on the band name Craft Spells.

Current album: I'm currently writing/recording my first LP, titled Idle Labor, which is coming out in spring 2011 on the Brooklyn label Captured Tracks.

Influences: Living in the suburbs and being stuck in a town with friends who have the same goal of eventually leaving. Anything with strong melodies and the basic foundation of a solid pop song. I really look up to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.

Top 3 albums of all time: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds, Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures, New Order - Brotherhood.

Favorite decade for music: I really enjoy 1920's big band music. Hands down.

Favorite venue to play in San Francisco: Milk Bar on Haight Street for sure. Craft Spells is actually playing there on the 11th of November!

Least Favorite SF Neighborhood: Near SFSU. The mall and all the stores around that area just remind me too much of Stockton.

Day job: I actually do freelance graphic design.

Worst day job ever: At a coffee shop that was conveniently put across from a Starbucks.

Last song that was stuck in your head and you were glad to have: Wild Nothing's Chinatown! Glad cause they are label-mates, and I can't wait for the day to play a show with them.

Last song that was stuck in your head and was annoying: "Like a G6." I dated Dev, who sings the hook of that song. It's terrible to have a song about drunk driving at No. 1 on Billboard!

Favorite painter: Kanye West

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