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"No deep mystery to Castaneda"

Go ahead, call it a pop band.


Castaneda is not afraid of being labeled a "pop" band.
Most bands that clearly fall within this genre cringe when the dreaded three-letter word is used, because they'd rather be considered "indie." Castaneda embraces its pop-ness and shamelessly performs its blend of '80s synth-pop and rock music.
Although the band name was inspired by writer Carlos Castaneda, who wrote a series of books telling tales of sorcery, out-of-body experiences and other new-age magic, the name represents more of the interaction between music and how people interpret it differently, said Vega, the band's vocalist.
The band has only been together for about a year and a half, but has been gigging consistently over the past year around Los Angeles and more recently in Orange County. At the Detroit Bar in July, the group drew a good-sized crowd, which the band hopes to replicate this Saturday.
The music is fun and eclectic with an emphasis on hooks and melodies. Each member brings something different to the table, but collectively they're inspired by the music of bands like Joy Division, Duran Duran and The Killers.
Vega writes the majority of the lyrics, often building off blocks of lyrics he's jotted down as they've randomly come to him.
"I'm boggled by my writing process because it really doesn't make any sense," Vega said. "The funniest thing I do is, I'll be in the middle of something or driving and I'll have to call my voicemail and I'll leave myself a message, humming some melody or maybe some lyrics so I don't forget them."
The band members don't expect success to come easy. They all work regular jobs in various industries, but don't talk in detail about their daytime gigs, because they'd rather focus on the music.
The members manage to dedicate four nights during the week and one weekend day to come together to practice, present new material to each other and strictly deal with band business.
"It's not an overnight process," Vega said. "It takes a lot of work and we're learning now where we need to play and where we shouldn't be playing and who we should be reaching and who we just won't be able to reach. It's a constant kind of trial by fire."
Castaneda is currently unsigned, but is looking to reach an audience through contributing to movie soundtracks. The band's long-term goals are to tour domestically and abroad and land a record deal, but its current goal is to build a stellar fan base starting in Southern California, Vega said.
The band has a four-song EP out, and another EP coming out by the end of the year, both recorded at an in-home studio. The songs from the first EP can be purchased for download through the band's MySpace (, where, so far, the tunes have logged over 28,000 plays.
Contact the writer: or 714-796-3570


"Pop never was a four-letter word"

By Hayley Fox

Go ahead – call them a pop band. That’s what they have the humble confidence to call themselves.
If you take the time to wade through the clogged pores of the Los Feliz/Silver Lake indie music scene, parting the seas of pretension and expensively torn T-shirts, you’ll uncover a seed of truth. One band is talented, intelligent and confident enough to say, “We are not afraid to be a pop band.”
These hustlers among men are better known as Castaneda – five guys who just want to make you move your feet. Vega, Rob, Sasha, Dana and Warren won’t discuss their day jobs, but they’re more than willing to discuss in certain seriousness the fate of Castaneda.
With the band’s one-year anniversary coming up in December, they still remember fondly their first gig at Safari Sam’s. Their harmonious combination of electronic synthesizers, actual instrumental talent and sheer energy levels only make their pointed lyrics and mysteriously soothing vocals more potent.
Out of respect for Castaneda, we’ll refrain from comparing them to any contemporaries you might know, but combine that unstoppable shameful urge to move (your feet, your hips), with a slight tug on your heart strings, and these guys have found your weak spot. With catchy drumming that packs an artful punch, the choruses of clapping and crescendo instrumentals that power songs like “Radio” are hopelessly addicting.
Though under no false pretenses and no claims of a deeper message, the members of Castaneda are the hardest working multi-taskers in Los Angeles.
“We want to max out when we are as big as we can be,” the members agree.
With working days that average 15 hours, they’re well on their way.
“Basically, we all hate our day jobs and want to just play music,” the crew says.
While seeming like a fairly typical dream for many aspiring bands, Castaneda makes you believe it. Though I still want to borrow about half of their sweaters and all of their fresh high tops, this band differentiates themselves from the hipster pack with solid heads on their shoulders and an old-fashioned, blue-collar work ethic.
“Our ultimate goal is to deliver music to the world,” states drummer Sasha.
Don’t laugh and don’t doubt him for one second, because regardless of money or incentive, Castaneda declares with commitment that they’re doing a European tour if they have to plan and pay for everything themselves. With only 10 months under their joint belt, Castaneda has been everywhere from Los Angeles, Vegas and Texas, and continue to play more shows than there are daylight hours.
I’m lucky enough to talk to these five on a very special day, as they gear up to sign their first publishing deal with the help of who they call a “real friend,” lawyer Robert Reynolds. Reynolds, better known for handling a little band you might have heard of called the Killers, will usher Castaneda into a whole new bracket of possibilities, as their songs will spread from the radio to TV shows, films and commercials.
Upcoming Freddie Prinze Jr. indie flick Jack and Jill vs. the World hosts two Castaneda songs, and by the sound of it, two was hardly enough.
“The director, Vanessa, got a copy of the CD and freaked out,” the band mates express their genuine excitement at their involvement on a film soundtrack. “We’d like to hear Castaneda songs in anything substance filled. Pretty much anything but fast food commercials.”
My heart actually melted after watching Castaneda’s self-edited video of their trip to play Austin. I came to a drastic realization: these guys’ complete sense of normalcy and feet on the ground would require anyone to give them a second glance.
And so I did. And a third. And a fifteenth.
When I asked them what else people should know about them, giving them an opportunity for a shameless plug or a hefty political message, they told me to say what I wanted.
“Pick a song that you like, and talk about it.”
The members of Castaneda have the veteran experience and the unyielding honesty to prove that someone in Los Angeles still tells the truth. And man, is it catchy.
Castaneda will perform Oct. 20 at Vertigos in Los Angeles and Oct. 26 at Minx Lounge in Glendale. For more information, visit

Link to Review: - Campus Circle magazine

""The Stars Have Aligned for L.A.'s Castaneda: WORTH THE WAIT!""

Article from Citylife Magazine,
Las Vegas

by Jeff Inman

"The Stars Have Aligned for L.A.'s Castaneda: WORTH THE WAIT!"

...The group bangs out the kind of dance rock that dominates every hipster iPod, complete with jarring beats and well-placed hand claps. But while other bands tend to play at the extremes -- the gloom pop of Interpol, the artful clank of Bloc Party -- Castaneda prefers to shroud bright hooks and sunny riffs in a thick gauze of utter heartbreak. It makes tracks like "All Eyes" and "Cyanide" come off disco music for Xanax junkies -- escapist rock that allows you to wallow in your own good time. Tracks like "All Eyes" come off as forgotten Cure tracks, with Vega's piercing voice replacing Robert Smith's ethereal moan. "Pixels" is more gothic boogie, complete with computerized harpsichord chimes...And "Radio": The song has the kind of chorus that could spark thousands to either sing in unison or make appointments with their therapists.


For full article: - Citylife Magazine

"Detroit Bar - Costa Mesa, CA"

Casteneda is a pop/new wave quintet from Los Feliz and its infectious beat brought the crowd from the bar to the front of the stage. Casteneda’s music is catchy and they definitely put on a show. They managed to bring the crowd from head bobs and toe taps to sing-along and dance status. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the drummer - he was super animated and just fun to watch...I took a little video of the band…although the sound is horrible, you get the point.

For full Review: -

"The Lemurs & Castaneda @ Beauty Bar Friday"

August 16, 2007

I’m gonna step on JonG’s toes a bit here and give you guys a heads up on a nice little Austin show tomorrow… which by the title of this post, is clearly not The Lemurs and Castaneda at The Beauty Bar. OK it is….you caught me.

I’m not going to really get into The Lemurs, because everyone in Austin already knows these guys are a first class band, almost ready for the national scene. So enough said. However, L.A.’s Castaneda is likely a new name for some of you guys….and they are coming all the way to the Lone Star State, just to make sweet passionate love to your ear drums. Thus, I feel inclined to inform you all…

The fact that I first stumbled across these guys at a house party in Los Feliz a couple years back is just classic. They absolutely blew the roof off some uber-hipster party that I really had no business attending . But I definitely open mouth kissed someone’s little sister that night… so that counts for something, right? right? This delightful evening with what’s her name Castaneda prompted me to keep an eye on the band over the past year. And now guess what?...They are a very legit name in the ever growing, and much respected, Los Feliz/Silverlake scene.

Besides their rather addicting, progressive indie pop hits… these guys have a couple great non-musical attributes going for them as well. First, the rad artwork they have for almost every gig and secondly (and most important), they have some of the hottest indie-rock-chick groupies around. Indie girls….yesssssss. But it makes sense, I’ve been lucky enough to hang with these dudes a few times and they are a pretty rad bunch. A couple of them could use a haircut, but lets be honest….thats probably my reseeding hairline talking there.

Well as for now, enjoy the tunes from Castaneda and The Lemurs…..and stay black.

Blackbird O-U-T


CASTANEDA was named Undiscovered band of the Month in the current issue of Filter Magazine. On News Stands now!!! Look for Q-Tip on the Cover. - FILTER MAGAZINE


2006 Self Titled EP ; 2007 CASTANEDA EP - RADIO has been played on INDIE 103.1 in Los Angeles and our tracks can be heard at




CASTANEDA hails from the nestled hills of Los Feliz, California. The band consists of Vega on lead vocals and guitar, Rob Derba on keys, Sasha Veneziano on drums, Dana Powers on bass, and Warren Nelson on lead guitar. Together for less than a year, the five Los Angeles-based musicians were joined together from across the US (Boston/New York/San Francisco) by inimitable forces and a nexus of relationships. For the five guys, the common goal became simple: to create a new transmittable and distinguished sound that unites the driving rhythms and haunting electronic rock and roll essence of the past with the future.

Combining classic influences such as U2, The Cure, and The Talking Heads with an undertone of modern electronic music, CASTANEDA has created an approach that is infectious and tastefully large in scope. Their musical brainstorm was to create unforgettable melodies that can radiate through airwaves but also feel completely at home in large venues and clubs alike. The formula is as follows: the raw sound and attitude of two guitars, coupled with the driving rhythms of the drums and bass, the vibrancy and electric clatter, swish, and hum of the synths, and the ethereal vocals makes for an elevated rock and roll experience. When it all came together and was put on disc, a week after finishing their first EP, their single “RADIO” was discovered by INDIE 103.1fm DJ Chuck P and is now on rotation during his show ‘Dead Air Radio’ in Los Angeles.

Another dynamic and a significant aspect to the band is their live show. Songs like “Pixels” and “Contact” illustrate the band’s definitive, multi-layered musical style and their persuasive live persona. The band’s live act illustrates that they really have no qualms about expressing themselves. From foot-stomping and clapping, to their physical enthusiasm, CASTANEDA is not shy about how their music makes them feel. “It’s important for us to know that what we have to say gets heard. I think we always try to give it some sparkle,” states Warren. And their strong live act has been blossoming; CASTANEDA has been asked to perform repeatedly for stalwart London rock zine NME’s sponsored night in Los Angeles – bringing their sound and reach to a wider transatlantic level.