Looking for full moon magic? Call 978-4-WIITCH.
In advance of our next All Access Live! show at xBk on Thursday, Oct. 6 in Des Moines, we asked band-leader Lyndsay Nissen to introduce the band to Studio One listeners and fans. The act has a history of only playing on full moons, and we asked her to write about why.
Trigger warning: this story mentions suicide.
"Hello Iowa Public Radio listeners and fans! Wiitch T&$t is so excited to come to you live this October for the Full Hunter Moon.
Recordings are wonderful, but we believe our full moon experiences are perpetuating a community. The shows are sometimes elaborate and always mysterious. We’ve played in cornfields, in abandoned structures and we even host a summer camp every year. At most shows, we invite everyone to participate in some kind of group activity – one of the classics is stone soup, where we all bring some ingredients to put into our cauldron and cook up a delicious meal over the fire. Another aspect is the burning of a moon themed effigy. This is how we close out all the shows, gathered around a glorious fire. It is cathartic and a reminder of the beauty of impermanence.
I really believe that humans desire opportunities for ceremony and ritual. We create a space for this which is not centered around any dogma. Whatever an individual chooses to put into it or believe is what they get out of it.
The band was conceived in 2016 at Burning Man, by Beth Wilbur and me – Just two good friends who barely knew how to play music. A little sad, very raw, we began to collect other sweet soul members along the way.
Our original drummer Charlie Vestal (aka Flavor Basket), an incredible guitar player and songwriter joined. Then we picked up our fairy angel Ashley Arden on the keyboard and bassist Tai Nissen-Maag. We started playing the full moons because we loved the lore and its connection to witches. There’s a certain kind of magic that seems to happen these nights, good and bad.
In January 2017, the morning after the Full Wolf Moon, we lost Charlie to suicide. It was absolutely devastating to the band and the entire Ames music community. Heartbroken, we continued with Willie Pett on the drums. We kept going, and the band kept transforming as Tai moved to New York City and the amazing V Ellsbury (Eleven Moons) joined us on bass. Somewhere along the way Satchel Bruna took over on drums for Willie. During this time we recorded a live album, which some of you may have heard tracks from on IPR Studio One.
About our sound
All of this, of course, is centered around music. Our sound has always been experimental. No one really had a vision of how things should be played, we just wanted to make it sound witchy. I think our deep emotional connection with one another has always brought an element of trust within the group. We can get lost in a jam and know that at some point we’ll come back together. These moments are magic. The unique sound is created by years of being vulnerable, messing up and going with the flow. Honestly sometimes our practice is just laying around laughing, talking, and sometimes crying.
Our current formation is the one that has stuck the longest, with Ian Kerns on drums. How he came to be a part of the band is a pretty cute story that I think kind of explains us. So, we knew Satchel was moving, and we needed a drummer. I had seen Ian messing around on the drums at the infamous Jam House, but I didn't really know him. Then one night at a dance party, I saw him really getting into the music. I watched the way he moved and I was like, that’s our drummer.” I told the Wiitches, ”I’m not sure how good he is at drums but I think he’s the one”. So getting asked to be the drummer based on how you boogie in the club is the Wiitch T&$t way.” It’s never been about skill. That can be learned. But vibes are something cosmic.
We are really looking forward to seeing ya’ll Thursday Oct. 6 at xBK in Des Moines. You can also tune into the airwaves. It’s going to be a fantastic time. If you find yourself looking up at the moon and think, I wonder where they're playing soon? You can call our hotline number: 978-4-WIITCH. Don’t forget to leave a message after the beep. Bleeeeeep."