Romanticism, intuition and vulnerability – SPELLLING chats her new album on Up for It!

September 25th 2023

  • :: SPELLLING interview on Up for It! with Bindi Mutiara

Oakland’s SPELLLING has an especially distinctive sound, even by FBi’s standards. This unique timbre earned her recent album SPELLLING & The Mystery School Album of The Week status late this August. The album features songs from SPELLLING’s first three albums re-recorded with her live band, The Mystery School, so named after esoteric academies founded by Christian mythics. The album explores both ends of the sonic spectrum, blending dark analogue tones with more summery acoustic instrumentation, held together by SPELLLING’s eldritch vocal performance. The end product evokes the likes of Bjork, David Bowie and Kate Bush. SPELLLING joined Bindi Mutiara on Up For It! on Thursday to discuss the process and sentiment behind the release.

SPELLLING was quick to emphasise the role of intuition when discussing the process of making the album.

“I really just try to lead with intuition and trust the initial impression you’re getting. To listen to the strongest signal of the pure, raw state of what the song is meant to be. If it sounds good, it feels right… It can be difficult to commit to that.”

This emphasis on intuition is part of SPELLLING’s broadly Romantic way of thinking that emotions are a “legitimate way of creation.” In particular, the songwriter noted the emotional power of her hometown as a salient force in her writing.

“So much nostalgia walking round your hometown – you get flashbacks to these raw states that you experienced in your adolescence or early life. On the drive home, that’s when things just start to strike and I can do a lot of lyric writing and stuff will just spring up that I’ve been trying to work out for weeks.”

You’d think that such a personal way of creating might make things difficult when reworking the songs with other musicians, but SPELLLING was quick to dismiss the idea.

“It felt really relieving. [While I believe that] songs belong to this greater fountainhead of the universe and the cosmos, in the phase of when I’m making [an album], I’m in this psycho control mode. For this [album] it felt way less consuming and more communal and relaxed.”

Indeed, working the material with other people somehow reified it, crystalising the songs’ essences and “tapping into something even more pure than it was originally. It brought a real vulnerability to the sound.”

To hear more about SPELLLING’s influences, from goth rock to her personal heroine Buffy Sainte-Marie, as well as her thoughts on campness and a particularly striking trip to Banff, listen to her full interview with Bindi up top. Buy/stream SPELLLING & The Mystery School on Bandcamp below.


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