Hello magical friends and welcome to WZRD Radio! I’m your hostwitch Bess, and today I’m talking with a dear friend, Didi of Chasitherin! You’ve heard him on Hut on the Wrock, the Sampler, and the ‘Pedia Comp Club, now we get to talk to the man himself.
Well, not now-now.
First we get into the appropriate headspace by listening to some music.
This is “Gryffindor Bias” by my very own Slytherspouse.
Now let’s get to that conversation with Didi of Chasitherin.
Welcome to the show, Didi of Chasitherin!
I’m so glad you’re here.
Didi: I’m glad to be here. It’s a good time.
Now, I always like to start with how you got into wizard rock.
Didi: So the way I got into wizard rock is that my partner—who is TK Lawrence or known as Totally Knuts as their band name—they have been making wizard rock for a long time now, and I basically got into it through them because I’m also a musician. So I’ve played in lots of their albums. I’ve played on tracks of theirs. I’ve sang with them. I’ve helped co-write some of their songs or edit some of their songs, especially when it comes to songs that have Hebrew in it. So I came into wizard rock more or less through Totally Knuts.
And you just thought “this looks really cool, I wanna try it?” Or TK was like “you have to make a music now?”
Didi: I would say that in the beginning it was more that I was kind of tapped as another resource for Totally Knuts to use. So I had never heard any wizard rock songs. I hadn’t heard any wizard rock artists. And TK was like “hey, can you play this for me? Can you play for this track? Can you do this?” And like, I kind of slowly got into it through just creating music. Later on I did hear wizard rockers and was like “h, there’s some really cool music and really, um, interesting artists making some really cool, uh, soundtracks” I um, I thought, for this genre of music. So that’s… it started with me kind of being roped into creating music with Totally Knuts and then I kind of got more into it as I listened to more artists later on.
I think that happens with spouses interested in wizard rock. That’s how we got Slytherspouse.
Didi: Yeah, exactly.
You’ve been listening some more. Do you have any particular favorites, besides TK?
Didi: Well, I like Totally Knuts’ stuff. I think Lauren Fairweather is absolutely fantastic. Uh, she’s, she’s an incredible artist. I also like Ludo Bagman and the Trash. They’re absolutely wonderful. And I also, um… I’ve been listening into Totally Knuts and some of their songwriting workshops and I’ve listened to, I don’t know what their band name is, but Avery playing on guitar, they’re just an absolutely incredible guitarist. So I have a, I have a lot of respect for a lot of the artists and a lot of the music that people make for wizard rock. I think there’s a lot of passion in the music that goes into it.
Avery is How Airplanes Fly.
Didi: Didn’t know that. I’ve just heard them play and I’ve seen them on songwriting workshops and their music is just absolutely fantastic.
What are these workshops?
Didi: Uh, they’re just like online with, um… I think it was Draco and the Malfoys running them with like, uh, Avery and TK and someone else that I’m forgetting, but it’s like once a month just like writing songs and like talking about music. It’s interesting. So I’ll have to ask them like how, how… I’ll, I’ll ask TK how they got into it too. Cuz I don’t really know <laugh>
Yeah. I’m not familiar with this. I look forward to learning more about it.
Didi: Yeah. Yeah. For sure.
[Note: The workshops are on Brian Ross of Draco and the Malfoys’ Patreon. At 25$ a month you can attend a monthly songwriting workshop. [link]]
Now, since you’ve come on the scene, I have seen your band name spelled and pronounced a number of ways because Hebrew is not an overly common language in, in the scene, although I hope that expands.
Didi: Yeah, that’d be cool.
How did you decide on it?
Didi: So the, the name is basically this amalgamation of two words and concepts. So it’s this word in, in Judaism or really Orthodox Judaism called Chabad Chasidim and Slytherin. And so Chabad Chasidim is this, um, is this kind of like concept of Jewish philosophy of how to live your life. More or less. That’s like a, a generalization of it. And it’s associated with Orthodox Judaism. And my upbringing as a person is that I was raised as a conservative Jew with liberal-reform ideals and a strict Orthodox adherence to Jewish holidays, which is like a very strange mix of things. So I’m very liberal minded, which I think lots of the wizard rock community is, obviously. I—my partner is Totally Knuts and most of their albums are about trans and gay and lesbian wizards and witches and kind of fucking transphobia. And I grew up with liberal ideals, but I also grew up in a conservative Jewish household, which celebrates Jewish holidays. And my mom grew up, really, with Orthodox Jewish religion around her. So some of the adherence to the holidays that I grew up with was very, very strict. Not in like an ideals of like being mean to other people way, but just how we celebrated Judaism. So it’s a big part of my identity.
And then the other part of the word is just Slytherin and that’s like my house. More or less. My Hogwarts house is Slytherin through and through. Like, I love the idea of the underground lake dungeon as a dorm room. The Slytherin ideals of, like, ambition and cunning and power. like I resonate with all of those. Also TK just describes me as a Slytherin, like, personality wise, which I don’t really take as an insult because even though a lot of the villains and the books are described as Slytherins, it’s really just like kind of like an idealism in a way, right? It’s a way to live life. I think. So that’s where the “Chasitherin” came from. So there’s no “L” because it’s basically just the, like the Chabad part or the “Chasidim” part. Uh that’s the first part and then the “itherin” of Slytherin. So that’s why it’s Cha-sitherin.
So is there a really, like, concise way to translate it or is it just a combining of the two ideals? Could you say like “Slytherin ideal?” I’m—
Didi: The way I think about it—cuz it’s kind of the direction that my wizard rock has just naturally taken—is that I really like the fringes of Hogwarts kind of like storytelling that JK Rowling doesn’t really go into like the ideas of what the lives of Slytherins are really like, because it’s not really gone into too much in the books. And as well as like far off places like Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. I wrote a whole song about Durmstrang because I like this whole idea of like ‘what is wizard education lake in other countries’ and in other places and in other areas of the world, because that’s kind of how I identify as well, as a Jew who kind of sees a lot of the world in that way as well. Not really as a main person, part of a majority of people in the United States, but kind of as a minority on the fringes looking in. So that’s kind of why I think Chasitherin is a nice band name of like it’s Jewish—Jewish Slytherin right. There’s one Jewish character in the entirety of the seven books. And if you think that’s as much of an insult as I do, then you might enjoy the next song that’s coming out in the next comp that I’m part of. Because it kind of pokes fun at that idea.
Well, that’s exciting.
Didi: Yeah. That’s all I do. None of my songs are serious, so it’ll be funny. <laugh>
It’s also a fairly good segue. You have a few songs out now, which are you proudest of?
Didi: So I, I thought about this and to be honest, some of my proudest songs aren’t necessarily associated to wizard rock. I co-wrote an album with TK called “Songs from the Valley” which is like this tribute album of original songs that TK and I wrote about, about one of our favorite games, “Stardew Valley.” And we just had a lot of fun with that album. It was kind of a… it was a very selfish album, honestly. It was really for myself in TK because it’s kind of full of, like, weird inside jokes and, like, experiences we had playing the game, cuz we’ve played the game for like hundreds of hours. So it was this, like, interesting way to put our minds together about it. And it’s like a cathartic release for us to put those ideas into music.
But like in terms of wizard rock, my favorite, like, albums that I’ve listened to are the “Hut on the Wrock” sea shanty comps. I love that whole idea in an already genre of music that’s so niche. I think it’s so fun. And so if I were to like actually create an album of songs just by myself based on wizard rock, it would probably just be an album of wizard, rock sea shanties. So I, I would say probably my favorite songs I’ve made are the ones for those albums, like “Castle Durmstrang” and the “Whomping Willow” song. Like ,those are my favorites. And it’s kind of like the songs that I really like listening to on the albums as well.
Yeah. I’m very glad that sea shanties became such a popular wave here because one of my favorite parts of Renaissance fairs is going to the pub sing where everyone knows the words and it’s a very community experience.
Didi: Yeah. I think the two go really well together because I feel like the wizard rock community is a very communal genre in a way. A lot of the musicians really know each other pretty well. And it’s a very knit community and I think everyone likes to collaborate. And so I think sea shanties and pub singing and, like, getting together and singing songs go really hand in hand with the wizard rock community, which I think is kind of a beautiful thing. So a sea shanty comp just kind of makes sense, I feel.
Now, if you were gonna put together a pub sing, would you have it at The Leaky Cauldron, The Three Broomsticks or The Hog’s Head?
Didi: I’m not gonna lie, I had to, like, look up what these places were again, because it’s been so long <laugh> since I’ve read the books, but I thought about this. Um, I think the best place for a pub sing would be The Leaky Cauldron since like it’s connected to Diagon Alley. You could go out afterward, you could, like, go check out wizard stores or even muggle stores afterward. And I’m sure there’d be, like, a lot of really wild witches and wizards you’d probably meet just by the fact that The Leaky Cauldron is in the middle of London, right? That’s I think would probably be the best place. I think The Three Broomsticks is nice, but it’s also just, like, in the middle of a tiny village so it’d be hard to get everyone out there. Uh, the Hog’s Head is a hard, no, for me, I feel like it’s just super gross and I would not be about that life.
I agree with you there. But The Three Broomsticks does have all the students of Hogwarts and I imagine the local school plus bar plus enthusiastic singing would probably go very well.
Didi: Probably. I, I think so. I also think that since my actual day job is being a teacher, like, I feel like I wouldn’t want to sing with students around more or less. Like just the way that my life works is that I have a very clear disconnect between the music and the teaching that I teach my students and then the double life I lead afterward where I sing and swear and I like <laugh> make songs about weird things, uh, after hours more or less. So… which is a double life that I know lots of teachers lead. So maybe that’s also why The Leaky Cauldron. I think appeals to me a little more, cuz it’s like a public space far away from a school. <laugh>
Fair enough. It’s good to have that division.
Didi: Yeah. I’d love to get butter beer, for sure, from The Three Broomsticks, but maybe they export to The Leaky Cauldron every once in a while. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.
I don’t see why not.
I hate to tear you away, but it’s music time. Also, more information about those songwriting workshops can be found in the transcript of this episode!
This is “HPxHC” by The International Superheroes of Hardcore.
Now back to the interview.
Now, since you’ve been eavesdropping on these workshops and creating with TK, what have you learned while creating wrock?
Didi: My background as a musician is that I went to school to be a musician. So I got an undergraduate degree in music education. I got a master’s degree in saxophone performance. So I’ve been playing and been a part of, like, playing and creating music for most of my life really. And what was kind of nice about getting into wizard rock was that I did it really as a, kind of like a hobby and kind of as just a nice thing to do with my partner. But what I learned is that the music that I make and the music that other people make doesn’t really have to be perfect for people to enjoy it. you know. When you’re part of a school or a conservatory of music, there’s a standard of creating music that’s so high and perfectionist. Like you can get kicked out of music school if you don’t pass upper division juries and that’s it for a lot of places.
So it creates this standard and this idea really that if you wanna be a composer or a performer, you have to be so good and if you’re not, then it’s just like, people don’t wanna listen to you. But obviously the real world doesn’t work that way. <laugh> And becoming part of the wizard rock community has in a way, been a little bit of a healing experience for me in that regard because you, you create these preconceived notions in high performance environments like that, that everyone’s expecting you to be, like, God’s gift to music if you’re gonna make music your career. But human beings aren’t like that. People like making music and people like listening to songs and original ideas, as long as they’re creative and they’re entertaining. Uh, that’s what wizard rocks taught me is that music doesn’t have to be this ideal, that so many conservatories and schools of music tell you it has to be. It doesn’t. It can be something that’s communal and beautiful for people to share.
I appreciate the idea that it’s healing to have that stress taken off.
Didi: I honestly think it is. I think you could talk to a lot of people who have gone to music schools or even art schools or even, like, culinary schools. I know people who’ve gone to culinary schools that say it’s, like, sucked out the passion of creating art or food or other things like that, you know? It’s hard to go to school for something that you love so much and to, like, feel like you’re not living up to standards that you create yourself. So it’s nice to let go and do something that—like I got to remind myself, oh yeah, I love making music. And I love singing and playing instruments and guitar and being part of creative process like that. So it is a healing experience for sure.
Would that be your advice for another, another musician considering wizard rock? “Do it it’s healing. It fixes what happened at school.”
Didi: <laugh> I mean, the advice that I thought about is that in the wizard rock community, I think there’s some really talented and creative musicians that are writing wizard rock right now. And from some of the latest comps and albums I’ve heard, I think it’s a cool, exciting time for the wizard rock community. I think the quality of music that’s being put out is really, really good and it’s really high. And for people who wanna get involved, just kind of get involved in any way you can. Like, reach out to people that you like. Reach out to artists you like, you know. I’ve heard Lauren Fairweather is super nice. You can just talk to her <laugh> and just ask her about her music. And I’m sure she’d love to talk to you about it. Reach out if they want maybe another voice for a song, an instrumental track. The community loves to collaborate. There’s so many different collaboration albums out there that it’s really impressive honestly. I think that’s most of the music that I’ve heard is collaboration. I think that’s a really positive thing for a music community. So. People want you to be involved in their music in the wizard rock community. So reach out and let yourself be heard.
I also like to get really concrete advice. And maybe as a teacher, you would have something particularly insightful, whether it’s about some useful tip during the recording process or how to improve your musicianship or your singing.
Didi: Yeah, absolutely. I’m absolutely a proponent of the idea that no matter who you are, you can always benefit from lessons and you can always benefit from practice. And so even if you’ve been doing it for a while, if you have a local university or a local community college community colleges are the best. They’re cheap and they offer classes and lessons from very, very experienced music teachers and artists for a very small price compared to what you could get at a lot of universities. You can reach out and get private lessons from people for not a whole lot. And even if it’s just a single lesson, it’s always a learning experience to talk to both professionals and then also to people who are like really into the craft that way. So if you… So my concrete advice is go reach out to community colleges near your area and talk to music professors and talk to, like, people who teach the instrument. They have worlds of advice to give about how to improve your sound, how to improve recording qualities, everything.
That is fantastic advice.
What are you working on now?
Didi: So I’ll be honest because my involvement in wizard rock comes and goes, a lot of it has to do with when TK of Totally Knuts will be like “Hey, get involved in this project. You need to write a song” and I’ll be like “okay.” And I’ll write a song. <laugh> I imagine that when TK and Totally Knuts has another project that they wanna start, I’ll probably get involved with that. Again, I did mention a little earlier, I do have a track that’s coming out in the next wizard comp, which is “First Years: New to Hogwarts” That I’m pretty proud of. So if you’ve been enjoying any of my weird irreverent humor in music, you can look forward to hearing that one. But yeah, probably next comp that Totally Knuts writes out, I’ll probably be involved in that one as well.
Do you have any inspiration or things you’d like to write about?
Didi: Um, again, like my wizard rock that I like writing the most is probably sea shanty oriented and it kind of runs the same creative track that I have when I write for Dungeons and Dragons; that’s just a side hobby that I like to write for that as well. So if there is something that I’m inspired to write a little bit more of in the future is some more wizard rock sea shanty music. In fact, that’s something that Totally Knuts and I have been working on for a while. We’ve been working on an album of songs for that. It’s just still in development. We have to, like, focus on it when we’re not doing things in the other world of work and moving and adult responsibilities and stuff like that.
Keeping the familiars from killing each other.
Didi: Yeah, exactly. They really want to.
So there is hope for a future Chasitherin album or EP of songs we could all sing along to.
Didi: Yeah. At some point I’ll, uh, probably get more into it. If I wanna make a solo album, it’s just the perfectionist musician that went to college for it <laugh> that holds me back and demands that if I release something that’s my own it really has to be high quality. And that’s just myself holding myself back at that point.
No, no perfectionism! Only joy.
Didi: Yeah. Yeah. The joy in music. I have to keep reminding myself to, to find that. And it usually happens when I have a writing spree of something that I’ll crank out in a few hours and be like, this is funny and then I’ll work on it later. So that’s how a lot of my, uh, wizard rock sea shanty comps, uh, songs have come along.
Well. I hope we do get that experience one day. I think it would be very joyful.
Didi: Yeah. It would be fun. I think it would be fun to do so. I wanna in the future. Yeah. Work on that.
Here’s “Hoot” by Seen and Unforeseen.
And here’s the last bit of my conversation with Didi of Chasitherin.
Thank you so much for talking with me today.
Didi: Yeah, it was my pleasure. It was great.
It has been very fun. Where can WZRD listeners find you online?
Didi: Everything I’ve made for wizard rock can be found on Totally Knut’s BandCamp. So if you look up Totally Knuts on BandCamp, you’ll find some of my songs that I’ve either co-wrote or played for on some of Totally Knut’s albums. And you’ll also find some of my own tracks of music and some of the wizard rock comps that they have posted on BandCamp as well. So go toTotally Knuts BandCamp, and also listen to some of their music, cuz it’s fantastic.
Was this whole interview secretly just advertising for your partner?
Didi: I mean, to be fair, that is, that is the person that more or less got me into wizard rock. I wrote songs for wizard rock and I didn’t have a band name. So, so Totally Knuts was the one who was like “hey, what are people gonna call you?” And I was like “oh, I don’t know. Let me think about it.” <laugh> and so, then I made that band name Chasitherin and again, it was born out of like a kind of a whim, but it did have a lot of meaning behind it once we really thought about it.
That happens a lot with wizard rock bands.
Didi: Yeah, absolutely.
Congratulations to Grace and Mike, the first patrons to guess last episode’s theme of “transportation.” I had so much fun seeing everyone’s guesses!
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And now, here’s Chasitherin!
Didi: So I wrote this for one of the wizard rock sea shanty comps, I think it’s the first one and it’s “Castle Durmstrang.” And it’s basically…I honestly think I was thinking of, like, the fourth movie and the image of the Durmstrang ship rising from the lake. And I was like “That is so metal and so cool.” And this whole idea of, like, maybe the Dark wizards are really on to something here of, like, really the way to travel is underwater by, like, sunken pirate ship and I’m in, man. Sign me up for this school. So that’s kinda where this song was born from. It’s “Castle Durmstrang.”
[“Castle Durmstrang” plays]