Calla was formed in New York City in 1997 by Aurelio Valle (guitar, vocals), Sean Donovan (bass, keyboards, programming), and Wayne B. Magruder (percussion, programming). However, the band's origins can be traced to Texas in 1993, where Valle and Magruder began performing together in the Denton band the Factory Press. The band relocated to New York in 1995, recording The Smoky Ends of a Burnt out Day with producers Kid Congo Powers and Matt Verta-Ray. The group split in 1997 and the album was not released until early 1998, by which time Valle and Magruder were pursuing new musical ventures. Most notably, Magruder worked with Bowery Electric, Main, and Windsor for the Derby.
In 1997, former Factory Press studio collaborator Sean Donovan arrived from Texas and took up residence in Brooklyn with Valle and Magruder. The trio set about writing and recording and Calla was born. Donovan and Magruder -- who had previously worked together as the Fallen Vlods -- shaped Calla's creative process around sampling and programming, marking a shift away from the approach taken by the Factory Press. A four-track demo was completed in 1998, generating interest from the Brussels label Sub Rosa, which released the band's first album to critical acclaim in 1999. Calla's self-titled debut prized apart traditional song structures and reconfigured the components into subtly apocalyptic, cinematic pieces, at times evoking electronically processed Ennio Morricone soundscapes.
Calla subsequently made the transition to performance, a process that gave Valle, Magruder, and Donovan their first taste of playing together outside a studio environment. Playing live had a significant impact on the band's sound and direction. Having been excited by the debut album, Michael Gira was particularly impressed by the way Calla's music had been changed by live performance, and signed the group to his label, Young God Records. The band's first album on Young God, Scavengers (January 2001), marked a subtle change in orientation. Scavengers was less reliant on studio processing and although it displayed a familiar atmospheric minimalist sensibility, its textures coalesced into more conventional song formats. Understanding the mixture of indie rock and high-concept art that their music represented, Televise (January 2003) solidified their jagged indie pop sound. Collisions followed two years later. Calla went on tour in Europe the following year. Their fifth album, Strength in Numbers, was released in 2007. ~ Wilson Neate