Bands to Watch: Damn the Witch Siren set for moodier, trip-hop-inspired shift

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Damn the Witch Siren has always embraced the concept of transformation.

It's an idea that bleeds into everything from the electronic duo's appearance - the musicians present themselves as fairy tale-esque creatures Z Wolf (Nathan Photos' werewolf alter-ego) and Bobbi Kitten (Krista Botjer's Glinda-like good witch) - to its ever evolving sound. While the pair broke through with the raucous, bubblegum electro-pop of last year's Superdelicious, its most recent material charts a moodier, more trip-hop inspired path.

"We both love every kind of music in the world, and from day one we knew we were going to branch out and do a lot of different things," said Photos, who joined Botjer for a late December interview at a downtown arcade whose running soundtrack of digital blips and beeps bore at least passing resemblance to the band's earliest work. "So we did our crazy, silly noise-pop … and now this next stuff we're doing is a lot headier and cloudier. We're excited."

This new musical direction was inspired, at least in part, by the pair's decision to relocate to nearby Marion, where the two have taken up residence in the home formerly owned by Photos' grandmother, Voula.

"Moving into the house we were able to unclutter our lives," Botjer said. "Superdelicious is really high energy … and now we're in the mood to do something really moody and groovy and beautiful at the same time."

The peaceful surroundings are a welcome change for the musicians following a chaotic 2014 that featured everything from multiple apartment break-ins (subsequent budget woes delayed a move to California, perhaps permanently) to the chain reaction set off when the pair spoke out against R. Kelly's inclusion on the bill of the inaugural Fashion Meets Music Festival (the controversial R&B singer was eventually removed from the lineup in the wake of the public outcry).

Though outside chatter has quieted in recent months, the musicians' workload hasn't lessened. In addition to maintaining a hectic recording/performance schedule, the two have been hard at work on their home studio, dubbed Voula Studios in tribute to Photos' grandmother, which they hope to open for business at some point this year.

"I've been in a lot of recording studios, and … it always feels kind of like a museum, like, 'Don't touch that,'" Photos said. "We want it to feel like you're at someone's house, and you can come in and drink coffee and tea and take your time making a record. We're excited in there. Every day we move to different rooms and get different sounds. We've barely scratched the surface of what we can do."

The same could easily be said of Damn the Witch Siren's ever-evolving sound.

Columbus Alive's Bands To Watch 2015

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