Seattle Scores: Justin Vallesteros of Craft Spells Is Ditching Stockton to Move to Seattle

Welcome, Justin!
Sometimes prayers do get answered. A couple weeks ago, I saw the Stockton, Calif.-based band Craft Spells play a brilliant set at Cairo and wished the band would move to Seattle. Craft Spells' brand of fluid dance-rock is something Seattle's music scene could sorely use (listen to "Party Talk," a song that is impossible not to love).

Well, it's happening--Justin Vallesteros, the brainchild behind the band, is moving to Seattle in the next three or four weeks. Craft Spells' Brooklyn-based label, Captured Tracks (home of Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, and Thee Oh Sees), was looking to expand their reach to Seattle, and when I spoke to Vallesteros on the phone this morning, he told me that my Reverb review of the Cairo show sparked the label's idea to have Vallesteros relocate to the humble Emerald City.

"The label really wants everyone to be in one area code," says Vallesteros. (The band's bassist, Jack Doyle Smith, and drummer, Peter Michel, are both Seattleites.) Regrettably, Craft Spells' lead guitarist, Frankie Soto, will not be making the move, but Vallesteros still feels the move is the right step for himself.

"I really do need to move out of Stockton," he says. "I don't know if you saw on Forbes that Stockton was rated the #1 most miserable city in the United States. We were #2 or 3 last year but now we're #1. I think there's 14 percent unemployment. Home ownership is down. A lot of business went down. It's really miserable here."

Vallesteros was actually born in Seattle and then moved to California when he was 5, but he's looking forward to being back. "I feel like it's going to be a fresh start. I felt like Seattle just had everything. Everyone has manners in Seattle. It's great. Everyone's just so polite. You all are really nice," he enthuses.

His plans once he gets here? He needs a place to live, for one thing--anyone got a room available, preferably in the U District? Once he gets settled, the band will be auditioning for a new guitarist--"one we can keep forever," says Vallesteros--and then practicing for their upcoming tour schedule. Craft Spells' full-length, Zodiacs, will be released on March 29, and the boys will be heading to New York for a release show, followed by a West Coast jaunt with labelmates Beach Fossils, and then a few weeks in Europe opening for the reformed Primitives.

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