Witch Weather: Embracing Anger and Empowerment in Punk

Up-and-coming indie punks Witch Weather are bringing much-needed representation to the scene. The York, PA-based duo, comprised of Kaitlynn and Juliann, write sad queer punk for your sad queer enjoyment. Inspired by new wave, shoegaze, 80s goth, punk, and a plethora of other influences, the group isn’t afraid to fuse genres to create their ideal sound. Kaitlynn, the frontwoman, often writes her lyrics about her experiences as a queer woman, but also about the existential dread of existing. Their upcoming self-titled album contains a spectrum of songs about self-loathing, queer perseverance, and what Kaitlynn’s pet bird Iroh is thinking as he sits in his cage. The act of writing has helped her navigate dysphoria and embrace her truest self. Juliann, bassist and vocalist, embraces her anger and encourages emotional expression through their music.

“Lyrically most of the songs are about being trans, earlier on they were actually a really big way of how I would navigate pretty debilitating dysphoria. They’ve also both gone really hand in hand in helping me feel comfortable in my existence, the more I would write the more it would help me to discover myself and vice versa.” shares Kaitlynn

“I’m just mad. I encourage the anger,” adds Juliann

Regarding songwriting, vulnerability is a crucial aspect of music, which the band finds empowering. Being unashamed and connecting with others through shared emotions creates a sense of strength and unity.

“Being a trans woman and growing up amab means that I’ve been made to feel bad about being vulnerable most of my life. So the really deep vulnerability that our songs have feels extremely empowering. On top of that having people sing these vulnerable songs back to us is incredibly empowering. And I think there’s strength in the group mentality too. A room full of people feeling vulnerable together and helping each other working through their emotions is the greatest feeling on the planet,” Kaitlynn says.

Juliann adds “Definitely not the same thing, but as a cis woman people often find vulnerability expected from me, but annoying or just “too dramatic”. That kinda feeds into the whole not being taken seriously thing sometimes too. But playing our music gives me such catharsis it’s crazy and to see it to that for other people is awesome.”

Blazing a trail in the punk scene doesn’t come without its challenges. Among misunderstandings, the band faces being misgendered by older men after shows. Kaitlynn shares, 

“The amount of old men that come up to me and call me ‘man’ or something equivalent after a show makes me want to scream every time it happens. Even when they’re trying to give me a compliment. Generally within the punk scene, especially the queer punk scene, I feel accepted and safe but there’s always a few iffy people.”

“I feel like when we’re truly at a punk show, we get treated seriously. But when we’re in a stranger setting, like not in the punk scene and you’re in kind of a weird situation, we definitely don’t get treated the same. I overcome it by just mentally saying “fuck you” and outplaying the other bands” continues Juliann. 

Although the punk scene has a reputation of acceptance, it’s the queer community within the genre that really gives Witch Weather the space to flourish. If and when Kaitlynn finds herself in spaces that are less accepting, she leans into her expression even more. 

“Generally I overcome all this by leaning even further into my presentation, going even more over the top with my outfits. Just generally letting that anger fuel better performances to where we can’t get ignored by anyone, transphobe or not,” she says. 

Despite this, they feel generally accepted and safe within the queer punk community. By demanding attention and respect at shows they aren’t just standing up for themselves, but making space for generations to follow. The band’s perseverance doesn’t only aim to support queer fans, but any listeners who can relate to what they have to say. The emotions and experiences explored in their songs are relatable to many, creating a connection with those who may not understand what it’s like to be queer, but who find comfort nonetheless.  

Juliann comments, “Talking about emotions that you experience in a specific scenario are likely experienced by pretty much everyone in either the same or a similar scenario or a totally different scenario. A lot of listening to music is self-projecting. So I feel like our tone and concepts tend to be widely understood, whether people know the actual meaning or not. It’s kinda like if ya know ya know. Ya know?”

Kaitlynn emphasizes “Yeah what she said. Honestly I think a lot wider of an audience can relate to queer identities than people realize. A lot of lyrics are vague so there’s room for people to fill in their own blanks but other than that I don’t try too hard to hide my own identity.”

Appealing to a wider audience doesn’t diminish the work that the band is doing when it comes to queer visibility. The positive impact that Witch Weather has had on fans, especially those within the LGBTQ+ community, has been notable. Just the sight of a trans frontwoman on stage has brought joy and a sense of acceptance to other trans individuals at shows. The band strives to create an inclusive and empowering atmosphere surrounding their performances. 

“The amount of joy that I see on the faces of other trans people at shows when they see another trans person fronting a band is always incredible. We always try to go out of our way to do nice things for our fans and make them feel accepted, and generally I think just by being unashamedly us we’ve made a lot of instances where other queer people have felt seen and accepted. Plus all the local prides that we’re involved in always at least make me feel empowered so hopefully it does for others too.” Kaitlynn shares. 

Juliann mentions a specific memory, “There was actually an instance recently at Lititz Pride where this young kid was like really enjoying our set and dancing around. So I hopped off stage and started dancing with them for a bit. Then afterward we gave them a free T-shirt and it was really cute.”

More and more, activism plays a significant role in their mission as a band. They participate in charity shows and use their platform to advocate for the trans community. Their music itself is a form of activism, as it empowers and inspires queer individuals to be seen and heard. Embracing the work of great bands who’ve come before them, their ever-growing list of influences includes Screaming Females, Against Me!, G.L.O.S.S., and Bad Brains. All of these artists have never backed down from societal pressures, and their existence itself has ushered in new generations of bands who don’t fit the “norm”.

Kaitlynn says “The more life I live the more activism plays a major role in it. We play a ton of charity shows and love to hop on shows with a good cause. I also will ALWAYS advocate for the trans community and always wanted to make a positive impact for us. Outside of music I like to volunteer with local organizations as well but that’s not really music.”

“Dare I venture to say that our music and us as musicians is activism?? That sounds way too conceded and self-important to say. But as Kaitlynn said earlier, trans people get genuinely excited and feel seen when they see her absolutely kicking ass on stage. And that does feel like bit by bit we’re making a difference.” notes Juliann. 

As role models for queer youth, they hope their music can provide support and understanding, especially for those struggling with their identity. Their advice is to prioritize happiness, choose joy, and recognize that it’s impossible to please everyone. They encourage others to break free from societal expectations and be true to themselves.

Kaitlynn emphasizes this point “I hope to be able to do for them what other trans-fronted bands did for me, which is to say help break eggshells, let them know they’re seen, and just generally make them feel more comfortable existing in this absolutely horrifying planet that we’re trying to live in. My advice would be, when it comes to transition and queer identity, to put your happiness first. You’ll never make everyone happy and you owe it to yourself to choose joy, however hard that may feel at times. You deserve it.”

Juliann reflects on this, “Gosh being called a role model feels really important. But growing up when I looked at bands it made me want to be up on stage and I hope to do that for other people. We need more queer people, especially queer femmes, in the music scene.”

As for their personal and artistic growth, the duo graciously supports and encourages each other’s ideas. Their desire to support and build community comes back to how they foster their relationships in their personal lives. They are open to each other’s ideas and collaborate effectively to make decisions as a team. 

Kaitlynn says “We are outrageously encouraging. To the point of being enablers. We always bounce ideas off each other and I feel like we both are really good about not shooting down ideas but collaborating and encouraging.”

“Yeah totally what she said. I feel like even if an idea of mine doesn’t get used I’m not made to feel like it was a bad idea or like she’s not listening. It just wasn’t *the* idea. And we’re good about coming to a group decision without any real difficulties because we’re pretty open” agrees Juliann. 

In terms of future plans, both members aspire to make music full-time and have Witch Weather sustainably support them. They hope to embark on a world tour and continue making music for as long as possible.

Ideally, Kaitlynn would like to “Quit my job mostly. All the money we make from this goes right into the band so being able to flip off my employer and then back flipping out of the building would feel nice. But yeah all my aspirations and goals are musical.”

“Yeah honestly even though I like my jobs, my big major goal has been to do music full time. And we’re getting close, right now Witch Weather is supporting itself but it’d be great if it could support me too. And then beyond that, I really wanna go on a world tour and just do Witch Weather forever. Heck I’ll do it till I literally die on stage.” Juliann adds. 

Witch Weather stands as a powerful force within the punk scene, celebrating queer resilience and breaking down barriers for future generations of queer musicians. Their music and activism create a space for queer voices, encouraging acceptance, and empowering individuals to embrace their identities fully. With no tropes, this band lives its messaging and actively engages in new ways to support their community. While they continue making waves they are a force to be reckoned with and a band you won’t want to miss. Their self-titled record comes out on October 13th, 2023 and it’s a must listen. 

Follow Witch Weather for upcoming announcements so you don’t miss what’s next for this incredible duo. 


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