Purple Witch of Culver is a new collaboration between baritone saxophonist, vocalist, poet and activist Sarah Safaie, and producer/multi instrumentalist Evan Taylor. Both Safaie and Taylor have spent a lot of time in the NYC music scene, but began their project after making their Westward migration and meeting in Los Angeles.
Their first two tracks have complementary vibes that show the broad spectrum of what they’re musically capable of. “Trig” is full of biting East Coast attitude, with a groove perfect for a sarcastic walk down the sidewalk. “Eulogy of a Sunbeam” has all the chill California atmospherics, full of ascendance, hope and love. Both tracks were recorded at Taylor’s studio and released on his label Loantaka Records.
Their first-ever livestream is Friday 12/11 at 7pm EST via popdust.com, where they will be opening for Laraaji! We chatted with Safaie and Taylor about their favorite recording gear, the NYC Poetry project, and the importance of realizing our collective power in 2021.
AF: How did Purple Witch of Culver come to be?
SS: Originally Evan was producing a solo track for me, but it became such a collaborative process that we decided to start a band!
AF: What was the writing and recording process like for your two singles “Trig” and “Eulogy for a Sunbeam?”
SS: “Trig” came together super spontaneously. It was originally going to be a sax feature but I decided to put some fragments of my writing together last minute. I wrote most of those fragments while I lived in New York, and they really fit the vibe of the track. The sax bits came together pretty seamlessly after I did the vocal take. The whole process just flowed so well.
“Eulogy for a Sunbeam” was a bit more involved since there are so many layers, but it was once again another one-day venture. Evan recorded all the parts besides the flute, saxophone, and vocals, which I layered on top. I did the entire vocal in one take; I had spent about a week writing and assimilating my work to reflect my typical stream of consciousness.
Our third single “We the Sun” is being released next week, December 14. We’re excited for that one; it is a departure from our two previous tracks. I sing. It’s a vibe.
AF: Do you have any favorite pieces of gear you used while recording Purple Witch of Culver?
ET: Our favorite piece of gear is our 2″ tape machine. We also love all of our analog echos, delays, and countless synthesizers.
AF: Sarah, what drew you to the baritone sax?
SS: I first picked up the bari when I was 17. I had been playing mostly alto and tenor since I was in 4th grade, but I found my high school’s baritone and decided to take it to my sax lesson. I played it for my teacher and he surprised me with his enthusiasm; he said it was definitely my main axe. The tone and execution of the bari is so satisfying to me, and it has been my primary instrument ever since.
AF: Evan, can you tell us a bit about your studio and record label?
ET: My studio, Loantaka Sound, is an offshoot of my record label, Loantaka Records. It is a predominantly analog (yet with digital capabilities) studio stocked with what I consider all the tools necessary to make a compelling record. As a producer I hold about 80% of my sessions there these days. It’s become a second home and laboratory for Purple Witch. As for the label, Loantaka Records, I refer to it as an “artist-curated boutique community label.” It’s comprised of some of my favorite artists from the scene who also happen to be incredible inspiring individuals. Our current roster includes Jess Cornelius, Sofia Bolt, The Chapin Sisters, Easy Love, and of course Purple Witch of Culver. We have some big plans brewing for 2021 which I’m thrilled about.
AF: What poets, jazz musicians and activists have influenced your work?
SS: I spent a lot of time at the Poetry Project in NYC over the last few years, which is where I found out about Eileen Myles, Alice Notley, Bernadette Mayer among countless others. They have been an incredible inspiration, enabling me to feel like I can write again. Jazz musicians I am influenced by of course include John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, the two saxophonists I listened to mostly while growing up. Charles Mingus is my favorite composer; he was always very political and his works have been blowing my mind since I was ten years old. Mingus is the reason I got into jazz, and he was a heavy activist. Pretty much anyone I look up to has been outspoken about the political landscape. Right now I am looking towards the BLM movement as well as the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) for their leadership.
AF: Are there any other non-musical things are you inspired by?
ET: Psychology and folklore.
SS: Nature and astrology.
AF: What can we expect from your first ever live-stream?
ET: It will be an opportunity to expand upon all the parts we overdubbed ourselves as we have a band all adding their influence to the tunes. At the end of the day we just want people to dance.
SS: Purple Witch, live band style! We’re super psyched for this. Tune into popdust.com for details, this Friday around 7pm EST. We hit right before Laraaji.
AF: What would you like to see change in the world in 2021?
SS: It’s time for people to come together and help each other. We are going to need to realize our collective power if we are to topple the powers that be and take the measures necessary to ensure a livable planet for all beings. We must keep fighting.
RSVP HERE for Purple Witch of Culver’s first livestream on 12/11 at 7pm ET.
More great livestreams this week…