Locals: The wolf, the witch and their wardrobe: electro-pop duo Damn the Witch Siren embraces its theatrical roots

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Even without the aid of a full moon, Nathan Photos, who joins Krista Kathleen Botjer in Damn the Witch Siren, will transform into a werewolf before the electro-pop duo takes the stage at Ace of Cups this weekend.

With this project, both musicians have adopted alter egos — Photos is Z Wolf and Botjer is Bobbi Kitten — and they hope to soon construct a fairy tale-like biography where, in Z’s words, “I’m actually a wolf and she’s actually a witch.”

“I’ve been consciously trying to make Z Wolf into a character — I guess the person I want to be,” continued Z, 32, seated next to Kitten, 27, in a Short North bar on a mid-May afternoon. “We want to be these characters and be dynamic and dramatic and ridiculous.”

For now, however, the group’s backstory is miles removed from the world of Brothers Grimm — in actuality the two connected in 2012 over a shared love of stylized artists like Lady Gaga and Goldfrapp — even if its music sounds increasingly detached from the mates’ relatively mundane day-to-day lives. The duo’s new EP, Superdelicious, is wonderfully brash and relentlessly over-the-top, piling on chunky electronic beats and playfully sexualized lyrics that, at times, come on like the bedroom musings of a Hollywood madam (“I know you want to hit it,” goes one tune).

“My friends will listen to our music and be like, ‘This is you? This doesn’t seem like you,’” Kitten said. “But it’s just a way to project different energies and say things you don’t normally get to express. I think these songs were all written with these characters [in mind], so it’s easier to embody that when you’re performing.”

This rings particularly true for Z, who described himself as uncomfortable in any kind of spotlight.

“Hence the mask,” he said, and laughed. “It’s weird because I’m never fully comfortable in a social setting or onstage, but at the same time it’s also my favorite place to be.”

Considering Damn the Witch Siren’s increasingly elaborate stage show it’s little surprise both bandmates have some roots in the theater. Z first performed in public when he auditioned for an eighth grade production of “The Wizard of Oz,” settling on roles as Uncle Henry and Tree No. 2 when a classmate landed his preferred part as the Scarecrow. Kitten, in contrast, partook in countless productions through college (she spent a year studying theater at Bowling Green State University), naming “Taming of the Shrew” as a particular favorite because she got to play Bianca as “this perfect, pouty little bitch.”

“I’ve always wanted to do something completely ridiculous and not wear my plain clothes when we go to do a show,” said Z, summing up the duo’s theatrical, all-in philosophy. “It’s all been a very conscious decision to do everything all the way. We don’t want to half-ass anything.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Ace of Cups

9 p.m. Friday, May 30

2619 N. High St., Campus

aceofcupsbar.com

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