The first time I saw Damn the Witch Siren perform I was totally mesmerized. Their performance left me slack-jawed in the pit at Woodland’s Tavern. The spectacle and the precision hypnotized me - it was absolute magic. I was slated to sing a few songs with another band later in the evening but now I was on a totally different planet, far away from my typical stage fright and nerves. As their set was coming to an end, a friend walked up and pulled the rug out from under me.
“You sure you want to follow an act like her?” he asked. The question took me aback. Sure, it may have been a joke, but at that point I had only performed a few times. I was new and nervous and unsure of myself on stage - like an awkward baby giraffe learning how to walk. The sexy, electro-pop multi-media experience before me was in a league of its own - nothing like the music I had been working on or performing. What possible connection or comparison could he have made between us except that… oh wait! The lovely and talented Miss Bobbi Kitten and I are both women. And just like that, my admiration had shattered and morphed into a downward spiral of self-doubt and hesitation.
I considered his words and I let them weigh me down. I didn’t move like her, I wasn’t as confident as she is… how could I possibly think anybody would want to watch me when they could watch her?! Drawing comparisons between artists merely because they are both women pits us against each other when we (and they) should be celebrating and learning from one another. At first, it rattled me. And then it infuriated me. Finally (with an assist from a sexy, gritty blues riff from Mike) it inspired me to write Burn the Witch.
I wrote the song about that magnetic pull I felt during their set, about the musicality and the mood they set with their performances. I wrote the song about how ridiculous it is to resent something that could inspire you so much, how flat-out silly it was for somebody to imply that because she was great I should be unsure of what I bring to the table. I wrote the song more generally about how my whole life, particularly in my adolescence, I was taught to believe that other women are your competition. That I should feel threatened by their success and happiness, because if they had it then it was that much harder for me to attain it. That there isn’t enough space in this world for all of us. A concept I now know is total bullshit.
When DTWS reached out to us about playing the Halloween Horrorshow at Ace of Cups this year I honest to God freaked all the way out. I have looked up to Bobbi & Z Wolf so much the past few years as musicians and as performers and to share a stage with them is a huge honor. It felt like the perfect time to extend my deepest gratitude to the both of them, not just for inviting us to join this killer bill, but for inspiring one of the first songs that Mike and I ever wrote for Lily in the Weeds. The first song I learned to play on guitar with the band.
Thank you, Damn the Witch Siren. I can’t wait to play it for you this Friday.
[Written by Alex Burnsides | Oct. 23, 2018]