Spindrift’s Sasha Vallely discusses their new album, Spaghetti Westerns and more
One of the top psychedelic bands out there today, Spindrift also blend in Spaghetti Western and Country/Western themes to make some intriguing music that conjures up images of the old west. Think Sergio Leone films and Ennio Morricone music and you have an idea of where Spindrift are coming from. Here, I had the pleasure to talk with vocalist Sasha Vallely.
Spindrift, album wise and member wise, have evolved greatly over the years. What is the current lineup and what makes this version of the group work?
It certainly has. I am actually the newest member, I joined just over 2 years ago a couple of months after Luke Dawson and James Acton. Henry Evans has been in the band for many years and of course Kirpatrick Thomas is the founding member. I think all versions of Spindrift are really great. They were and still are my favorite live band which is why I jumped at the chance to join them. I think what makes this current lineup extra special are the new elements that have been brought to the table. James has a really great unique style of drumming, Luke plays amazing psychedelic pedal steel guitar and I add the extra layers of flutes and Kirpatrick and I harmonize really well together. I have also been greatly involved with Kirpatrick in the songwriting process and have contributed a lot in that way.
Your current album Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1 really has a lot going on, from Spaghetti Western to Sci-fi, Film Noir and more. Tell me about how you put the album together. Is there a running theme to this album?
I guess you could say that the running theme is that all the songs are soundtracks for films. The album is comprised of songs from movies that we have previously scored, are currently in the process of scoring and ones that we shall score in the future.
You worked with 8 different directors on Classic Soundtracks Volume 1. What was your experience like and how did that come about?
We had previously worked with Mike Bruce on The Legend of God’s Gun and he approached us to score his latest movie Treasure of The Black Jaguar. We had also previously worked with JX Williams on Tecumseh’s Curse and he again approached us to use one of my own tracks “Shady Town” and “Space Vixens” for the title sequences to two of his films. Ward Roberts is a dear friend of mine who is a big fan of both my music and of Spindrift. I had already appeared as a featured extra in his movie Dust Up when he asked me to contribute as a composer in the film and for Spindrift to score the whole movie. We had also previously worked with Burke Roberts scoring his short film The Legend Of The Widower Colby Wallace. Lavender Lee, Jean Balest, Sam Barnett, Rob Bray and Simon Chan are all good friends and talented directors who were keen to work with us. I myself also directed a video for the first time so you could say we worked with 10 directors in total! The whole thing was an amazing experience which we plan to continue with the next Classic Soundtracks albums.
To put out Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1, you used Kickstarter to raise money. How did that go and do you see Kickstarter as a new avenue for artists to get their work out there?
It worked really well! I definitely see Kickstarter as a new avenue for independent musicians. In fact I plan on launching another campaign pretty soon to help fund the recording of my new project The Silver Chords debut album. I think it’s a great way for fans to show their support and a way for bands who haven’t got the big budget of a major label (which is practically non-existent these days) to get their music out there.
I’ve been fascinated by your sound since The Legend of God’s Gun. For the gear geeks out there, what are your favorite pedals to use to get those classic Spaghetti Western fuzz sounds? Any other favorite equipment that you use to help define your sound?
Well I know Kirpatrick uses a Space Station to get his sound. Not too sure about what other pedals he and Luke use. I play a Melosonic keyboard and use vintage keys and a sampler.
As a fan of Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone you’ve obviously studied the vision and sounds they created. Is there a particular Leone film that was most influential on you and why?
I can’t speak for Kirpatrick but I would definitely say the Man With No Name trilogy has had a big impact on me visually and musically. I was raised in Birmingham, England but my Dad dreamed of being a cowboy and I grew up watching all the old western movies on TV. I always wanted to be an Indian girl and would wear my little blue suede tassled outfit and run around pretending to shoot my Dad with arrows. I guess the imagery and the music invokes happy childhood memories for me and now I am getting to live out my childhood dreams!
Is there anyone else in the Psych/Western genre or out of it that remains a huge influence?
I don’t know if you would call any of this psych/western, I don’t think there are many bands out there in that genre but we are definitely heavily influenced by Bruce Haak, Johnny Western, The Doors and Chrome to name but a few.
Is there anyone you’d like to work with out there if you had the chance?
I would die a very happy lady if I had the opportunity to work with Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek. Spindrift actually supported Robby a few months before I joined the band. I was told that he really dug it and is a fan so who knows? It may become a reality soon!
Got any funny or crazy tour stories?
What happens on the road stays on the road. There have been many but I wouldn’t want to put them in print.
What can fans expect from Spindrift in the future?
More movie scoring, new projects, new albums, some of what you might expect, others you might not. Stay tuned!
Catch Spindrift when they play Glasslands Gallery this Friday, May 11. For tickets, please visit http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/104079.