At a recording studio at Northeastern University on a recent Saturday morning, student band Squitch was finishing up recording songs for their simply brilliant second album, “Uncle Steve in Spirit” (2018). For over an hour, Emma Unterseher, Emma Spooner (who prefers to go by Spooner) and Denzil Leach recorded melodic vocals and bass lines, planned their upcoming tour and discussed picking classes for the fall semester. It’s this balance, being in college and recording music, that may seem incredibly stressful, but Squitch works very well with it.
Spooner, a New Hampshire native, created Squitch in high school, but the band found its current lineup after Spooner and Unterseher became roommates through a Facebook group for accepted students at Emerson College in the fall 2017 semester.
“I remember just seeing [Unterseher] posted a picture of her in a cowboy hat with the caption, ‘I am a city cowboy,’ and I was like, ‘I want to be this person’s friend!’” Spooner said.
Originally, the two did not have plans to be in a band together, but throughout the fall semester, jam sessions between the two transformed. Later, Spooner brought her longtime friend Leach, a junior at Northeastern, onto Squitch. The rest is history.
Squitch’s dynamic is fluid, especially in the different roles the trio plays in writing, recording and releasing the music.
“It’s not like one of us, like, just plays bass. It’s really collaborative,” Spooner said.
The band describes its initial music as “fruit punk,” a genre that combines punk rock sounds with bedroom pop melodies. Now, with “Uncle Steve in Spirit,” the band explores a darker sound. At Northeastern, the trio finished recording vocals for “Electricity,” a song off the album while discussing their upcoming tour, which created an excited buzz in the studio.
As of now, the band performs across the greater Boston area at college shows and private house venues. In May, Squitch will travel across the northeastern and midwestern United States, from Providence to New York City to Chicago. Throughout their previous performances, they have met other Boston-based student bands, sharing music and making friends.
“There is a really good DIY community here of networking and student bands,” Spooner said.
This comes as no surprise; greater Boston has many music programs across its colleges, fostering many student bands. The difference for Squitch, however, is that this is a passion project.
Unterseher emphasized this passion when speaking about her experience with the group.
“Being a member of Squitch is magical,” Unterseher told the Daily in an electronic message. “It’s hard work, but getting to create something with two of my closest friends, and bring it into the world and have it heard, is unbelievably validating. I love Spooner and Denzil intensely, and playing together feels, well, natural.”
At Emerson, Spooner studies business of creative enterprises, while Unterseher studies visual and media aarts. Leach studies bioengineering at Northeastern.
Spooner explained that being in Squitch was not about finding fame, but rather about being a part of something that she is proud of.
“I don’t really have any expectations for it; it’s not super important to me that a bunch of people like it,” Spooner said. “I’m proud of it, and I love being a part of it. Like, if anything happened to it, that’d be great. I think it’s more just like, expectations will lead to disappointment.”
Squitch is on both Spotify and Apple Music, streaming platforms where listeners can explore their previous music, like their first album, “Caterpillar Killer,” which was released in September 2016 and made by Leach and Spooner in high school. The band thrives on Bandcamp, a website that allows emerging bands like Squitch to post their music for free and fans to name their price to buy their albums. Squitch’s music relies heavily on themes of queerness, relationships and individuality, but these are also mixed with fresh sounds, especially on “Uncle Steve in Spirit.”
There are deep moments of anger, like opening track “Dogfight,” in which Spooner sings, “I’m not all right, when I’m sleeping at night.” There are also moments of almost nostalgic emptiness, like “Candle Wax,” and harder jams, like “Eat Yrself Alive.” The album flows through ideas and themes, developing each in maturity beyond the band’s years. If “Uncle Steve in Spirit” is any indication of the future of Boston’s student music scene, then it seems that Boston is in the very safe hands of Squitch.