Four bandmates with four distinct and creative personalities, Body Type is a collaboration between Sydney residents Sophie, Annabel, Georgia and Cecil. An organic outgrowth of each’s musical inclinations, they’ve kicked off their first year by releasing a string of very well-received singles.
Played with feel and flair, their sound emerged with the heartache and hypnotic melody of debut Ludlow last year. They’ve since followed on with the expressive detachment of 264, a driving number called Break Down, and mostly recently, the staggering Silver.
We caught up with Sydney legends Body Type at BIGSOUND 2017 to chat the lockout laws, Alex Cameron and lo-fi, whatever that is.
From these tracks comes a textured, guitar-driven sound. Yet when it comes labels or comparisons Body Type are a little resistant. In their view, they’re still a group figuring it all out, finding their shared identity.
That said they express a close affinity with the local independent scene, holding acts associated with labels like Bedroom Suck, Dinosaur Records and Rice Is Nice in high regard. The outfit formed in the wake of Sydney’s lockout laws, but the group are quick point out that their city’s underground music is thriving despite its perceived adversity. If anything, they’re a living document that it is.
HAPPY: You’ve dropped a string of singles this year that have met with some modest but instantaneous acclaim…
GEORGIA: Thank you!
HAPPY: Were you anticipating such a positive reaction? What were your expectations going into the project?
GEORGIA: I don’t think we had any expectations really, it was more about forming a family and making some noise together. It was more about us I think, making sound. But we didn’t expect anything.
ANNABEL: What don’t have a checklist of what we’re going to make or anything like that, when it rolls in we’re just really overjoyed.
HAPPY: How did you all come together? Had you been playing in other Sydney outfits before?
GEORGIA: First time.
ANNABEL: We’ve all sort of been part of our own solo acts…. called life!
HAPPY: So there’s probably a lot of creative energy bouncing about. Is everybody a songwriter?
GEORGIA: Everyone has input into each song. Cecil will be like, “I think the structure should be like this or something should be like that” and…
ANNABEL: Melodies should work like this…
GEORGIA: But yeah, there are multiple songwriters.
CECIL: I think we’re all coming together to develop our own creative storytelling capacity – which is really nice. We’re learning with each other, it’s a true kind of collaboration.
HAPPY: I hear a kind of lo-fi influence in your sound. Is there an act which has informed you in terms of style?
GEORGIA: We did have this crazy kind of off the charts playlist going, which eventually grew too large for all of us to keep track of! We just kind of dumped all of our inspirations in there…
HAPPY: Whose were the weirdest?
GEORGIA: We’re all pretty weird.
[Murmurs of agreement]
ANNABEL: We’re a wasteland of weirdos.
GEORGIA: What about guitar players Annabel? What guitar players do you go crazy over?
ANNABEL: Guitar plays, guitar players, oh my god.
GEORGIA: I’ve put you on the spot.
ANNABEL: Talk about yours!
GEORGIA: At the moment, I’m a big Alex Cameron fan.
HAPPY: I had a chat with Brandon Flowers from The Killers the other week and he is absolutely in love with Alex Cameron…
GEORGIA: Aren’t we all?
ANNABEL: I feel like the world has fallen slowly in love.
HAPPY: I asked him how he had influenced Alex, but he was like, “No! Alex influences me!”
GEORGIA: You influence me Annabel.
HAPPY: Do you have a favourite track from Jumping The Shark or Forced Witness?
ANNABEL: What is the one about the baby in the car? The Corvette?
GEORGIA: Candy May? I just love the first album everything is amazing.
HAPPY: What is it that stands out about him as a musician?
CECIL: Well he assumes this persona in an unpretentious way.
ANNABEL: That’s it!
GEORGIA: The theatricality of it is so well placed I almost feel like I’m seeing some A-grade British sitcom when I’m watching it. But also, the songs are so beautiful.
HAPPY: Is there any analogy to what you are doing do you think?
GEORGIA: I don’t think so, I don’t think we’re putting out other characters or anything.
HAPPY: Are there any inevitable comparisons people make between your music and other groups?
ANNABEL: Sometimes it’s a bit of a cop-out I reckon. It’s like, “Yeah, of course you could say that!”
GEORGIA: We had a really beautiful quote about us, something about Sonic Youth, The xx and Natalie Portman with a shaved head.
HAPPY: That could apply to just about anything though right?
GEORGIA: But that’s why it’s nice!
CECIL: The first one we ever got was Warpaint times Beach House and that to me was like, “WHAT?”
GEORGIA: Again, that’s an obvious comparison.
ANNABEL: Those two groups have really distinctive sounds and I don’t think we’re there yet.
HAPPY: How would you characterise your sound?
GEORGIA: Well one of the songs we’ve recently recorded I feel is reminiscent of a Dunedin kind of sound as well as things that I love from Melbourne like Dick Diver. But that could be just one song, another one of our songs would be very different because there’s different characteristics to all our writing styles.
ANNABEL: I Find it so difficult to label because I feel like we’re still figuring it out. It’s still kind of surfacing.
HAPPY: You’ve been recording more material will you be keeping on with singles or are you working towards an EP or album?
GEORGIA: An EP or album, that’s the plan. We’ve been working on that all year.
ANNABEL: A collection of things, yeah! It’s all comin’ together!
HAPPY: Who have you been recording with?
GEORGIA: She also lives with us!
SOPHIE: Just a really amazing woman working in sound engineering. You don’t come across many of those!
HAPPY: Talking about recording music with that scrappier Melbourne and Dunedin edge, is there a challenge aligning a modest production ethos with the glossed out radio sound when it comes to getting airplay from bigger stations like triple j?
ANNABEL: What is lo-fi anyway? Is it like a pedal? What makes a lo-fi sound I wonder!? I kinda wanna know what the definition is…
ANNABEL: Is it budget?
[Intraband discussion ensues]
ANNABEL: [Close to approaching a conclusion] Is it a textural thing that comes from budget?
HAPPY: To reframe the question maybe look at it more along the lines of creating something with a more cliched radio mix…
GEORGIA: I don’t think we’re trying to craft a sound or try and pigeonhole it, to wash it out to get it on the radio. It’s not what we’re trying to do at all.
CECIL: I don’t think we intentionally go for a lo-fi sound.
SOPHIE: I’m just going to chime in and say it’s not our end goal. It’s great to get support, but if it comes it comes. We’re not trying to craft a sound to please anyone except ourselves.
HAPPY: It’s something that’s on my mind because I listen to a lot of great underground Australian bands and wonder if they’re not getting their music out there as far enough as they could…
ANNABEL: It’s not the be all or end all, the whole Bedroom Suck label is such a great example of independent music.
HAPPY: The T-shirts have started to become a bit of fashion statement!
GEORGIA: And the caps.
ANNABEL: I was going to say you recognise those certain media outlets as a tool to get your music out there.
HAPPY: Do you have a favourite Bedroom Suck artist?
CECIL: HamJam are pals of ours, Good Morning and RVG!
GEORGIA: RVG is on Our Golden Friend!!
ANNABEL: We’re very excited to be seeing RVG at BIGSOUND.
HAPPY: Of all Australia’s inner-city music scenes, Sydney seems to really struggle on the live side of things. What’s your experience?
GEORGIA: I feel like it’s a difficult one for us to comment on because from our point of view it feels like all of the bands are kind of thriving at the moment as a result of the lockout laws because people want to find options. They want to make noise because there are limitations and restrictions. It’s kind of a bit more of a “Fuck you we’re still going to do it!”
SOPHIE: The scene is very small in Sydney because there’s not a lot of support for the community at a professional or industry level, but it is thriving!
GEORGIA: It’s very exciting.
SOPHIE: It’s a small scene but it’s so supportive. Everyone sort of looks out for each other and gives each other as good of an opportunity as they can. Dinosaur City Records are doing incredible things and so is Rice Is Nice…
HAPPY: What are your favourite spaces or venues to play in Sydney?
CECIL: I liked the Newtown Social Club, geez!
GEORGIA: I like Oxford Arts, I feel like when we play there we do a really good show.
ANNABEL: That’s a classic staple!
CECIL: Golden Age is nice!
[Coos of unanimous agreement]
CECIL: It feels really special and it feels really filmic. Seeing other people play there is really special too.
GEORGIA: The Petersham Bowls club is always fun, so there are hot options. When it comes to the lockout there are ways around it!
HAPPY: Ludlow, your first single, is a really cool track. Can you tell me little more about that one?
SOPHIE: I wrote that song. That was the first sort of song maybe that I ever wrote. It was about an experience I had when I was living in New York – heartbreak blah blah! One night when I’d moved to Sydney I came home really drunk and just kind of sat at the piano and bashed out some really simple chords. Cecil and I were jamming on it once upon a time in this shitty little studio, but eventually, when the whole band came together it sort of became what it is. It turned into a beautiful sentimental song!
CECIL: It only really achieved its status as this really amazing single when it was recorded and we’d listened back it. We were like, “Whoa!”
ANNABEL: Georgia always said when we were rehearsing, “THAT’S THE SINGLE! That’s the one!” when we got that masters we were all like, “Yeah that’s the one, let’s just put it out now!”
GEORGIA: It’s also very special because we recorded it in our attic in a house we were living in at the time with one of our best friends Natalia. It was so funny we just built this little vocal box out of mattresses and foam and she just bought this little backpack full of microphones and it was – that’s the lo-fi sound!
[Shouts of agreement]
HAPPY: What’s coming next? What’s on the cards for 2017 and beyond?
GEORGIA: Well in a week and a half we’re going on tour with POND around Australia.
ANNABEL: Woo, we’re going to Adelaide for the first time. We haven’t been to Adelaide before!
GEORGIA: It’s a big opportunity for us. We’re going to be playing some really exciting shows in large venues. We get to play the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, which is really special and we also get to go back to Perth to play at the Freemantle Prison.
HAPPY: Not an actual prison?
GEORGIA: Yeah. It’s a heritage listed, limestone-walled prison. So that’s the next step.
ANNABEL: Three out of four of us are originally from Perth. Our parents are coming so it’s really going to be a special kind of thing. We’ve also got a video coming out for our most recent single ‘Silver’. We recorded in our garage last weekend…
GEORGIA: Yeah lo-fi!
ANNABEL: …and yeah…
SOPHIE: Bow tie?
ANNABEL: … hopefully an EP release at some point!
GEORGIA: For the next month, every weekend, we’re playing shows. We’re a nonstop machine!