An Interview With The Live Electronic Duo, HOST BODIES All About their Soon-To-Be-Released EP, ‘Diamondfruit’!
Posted On 30 Jan 2019
From the creative collaboration of MC/producer James Collector (aka Swoop) and multi-instrumentalist Nick Hess comes the live electronic duo, Host Bodies.
Beginning their creative journey together in 2006, the duo has brought their vibrant energy to stages ever since, and, in 2019, they will share their latest release Diamondfruit, a dreamy electronic EP that finds calm and clarity amid hectic times.
Incorporating guitar, bass, ukulele, charango, harp, and synthesizers, as well as inspiration from their home state of Colorado and new home of San Francisco, Diamondfruit provides a colorful panoramic soundtrack to heal our spirits to, ushering us into a state of welcome tranquility while helping us find our own personal refuge in a tumultuous, chaotic world. “We wanted to make a more mindful project, something at peace with itself yet swept into the wonder and mystery of the landscapes that inspire us,” they explain. “California and Colorado are both so close to our hearts, the elemental nature of them calls to us here in the city. The challenge is then translating that sense of refuge into electronic music, to say something beyond words.”
Diamondfruit was 100 percent self-recorded between California and Colorado and mixed and mastered with Ryan Kleeman (Overlap Studio) and Grammy-nominated producer and engineer Count Eldridge (Tycho, Radiohead, No Doubt). The EP will be released on February 8th. Their single “Accept” is out now and it envelopes listeners in the scintillating colors of sunrise. The track incorporates a diverse selection of alluring sounds and auditory textures, resulting in a soothing yet refreshing approach to a relatable theme: acceptance.
Check out their music here- https://sptfy.com/1cjR
Learn more about Host Bodies in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day for you both?
James: It’s Saturday morning, I’m on my second Americano and doing what I love doing on my day off: start the day writing, end it with music.
Nick: Hanging in the studio, working on some visual art. Then definitely some music later tonight.
How has 2019 been treating you guys? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year and how close are you to reaching it?
James: 2019’s been busy! Lots of changes for the best. ‘Diamondfruit’ is a huge release for us emotionally. We are just so grateful to be able to get these vibes out there into the world.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this duo together? Has anything surprised you about this ride so far?
James: For me, our origin story crystallized one summer afternoon in Nick’s basement in Boulder. We had two laptops, a keyboard, and a guitar. This was before Ableton Live came out. Somehow, we decided to sync the laptops by pressing space bar at the same time. I remember I had a fuzzy bass note droning real loud and a processed break-beat loop. Nick started ripping on the guitar and we looked at each other and knew Host Bodies had potential.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you both carry yourselves in this band?
James: Growing up in Boulder was an amazing privilege. While it’s changed so much since we were kids, I think the presence of the touring bands that came through left an indelible imprint. Underground hip-hop had a huge influence on me growing up, as did electronic music like STS9, Bonobo, Tycho. The way those genres mixed in my formative years continues to inform how I blend genres in my music today. I want to hear instrumental solos on hip-hop beats, and synths blended with acoustic string instruments. I want to break down boundaries between genres and create what comes out, not a product that fits a preconceived format.
Nick: Yep, Boulder is a hub for music with Red Rocks a short drive away. Going to STS9 shows there definitely sculpted my idea of what electronic music could be. But locally there’s a lot of homegrown talent as well. We went to high school with Rose Hill Drive, a hard-hitting rock band that toured with The Who and Frank Zappa. If you haven’t heard of them definitely look them up. Big Gigantic was another act that came out of Boulder. I designed some gig posters for them back in the day.
What was the inspiration for your recent single, “Accept”? How would you say that it is different or similar to anything else that you have put out? How would you say that it prepares listeners for your upcoming EP, “Diamondfruit”?
James: I wrote the chords on an old piano in a farmhouse in rural Colorado. The harp is actually a modified autoharp I bought at the flea market in Alameda, CA. Earlier versions of the song featured 14 of my roommates at the time making “joyful noises”. It sounded like an aviary of crazy, happy birds. Then, Nick got a hold of the song and wrote the main melodic theme the very first time we jammed on it. I remember the exact moment he played those notes.
Nick: We actually didn’t record that take either, it only lived on my phone as a voice memo. But we cherished that rough audio snippet for months and worked tirelessly to recapture the emotion and excitement of that moment. My Les Paul Goldtop was instrumental to the process (pun intended). The song definitely prepares listeners for the rest of the EP, and yet none of the other songs sound quite like it. We’re excited for fans to hear the variety among the ambience.
How did it feel having the Grammy-nominated producer Count Eldridge mix and master “Accept”?
Nick: We’re so grateful to have him involved. Count became a friend through our relationship with Scott Hansen aka Tycho. Count had been shooting a documentary film about the music industry and asked for my help creating motion graphics, which is my day job. After working many hours on his documentary he was kind enough to offer help mixing and mastering a few songs on the EP. Easy to say yes to a Grammy-nominated engineer.
What has been one of your favorite shows ever? What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? Where can people see you this year? Do you have a 2019 tour scheduled yet?
James: We played a kind of hybrid hostel/house-party on Haight Street last year with live projection and BYOB. It was very informal compared to traditional venues, but the energy was just magic. I think people got a taste of how vibrant DIY shows can be—there were all these international travelers staying at the hostel and they definitely went away with a San Francisco story.
Nick: Playing Noise Pop Fest in SF was another highlight. We’ve attended every year since we moved here, and it was a privilege to share the stage with Shallou, another electronic act we respect. The audience was mostly unaware of our band, which is a fun opportunity for a first impression. And when people have only heard us in headphones or house speakers, they can be surprised by the large sound we bring.
Where do you think you are both happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
James: Tough question. Writing a new part for a song in the studio has a magic unlike anything else. It’s a personal experience, when the music visits you. But performing that is another level. When the sound comes together and you see your intention realized on a stranger’s face, that’s the apex for me. When the music belongs to other people, that makes me really happy.
Nick: Absolutely. I’m a performer at heart so I love digging into a song I already know and finding ways to make it new in the moment.
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
Nick: Creative outlets are important for everyone, and for us it’s like breathing. Having fun and making art. Life can get in the way and we both have day jobs, but reserving time for music is imperative to our well-being. You can open yourself up to the universe and be a vehicle for something beautiful, something profound. That’s a part of where the name Host Bodies comes from.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
James: Agreed. This is a slow avalanche of a shitstorm. Every day something shocks me. It’s hard to resist becoming numb. ‘Diamondfruit’ is a response. It’s about turning away from the insanity, reconnecting with that quiet place deep inside. We all need to slow down and breath right now. I hope this EP can make some space for people to remember their joy and playfulness and serenity.
Nick: I think many artists are responding in their own way. We chose to go inward and try to concentrate on what we can control, our connection with the earth and one another. Like MLK said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this duo?
Nick: A dream collaboration would be Yukimi from Little Dragon. We’re huge fans of her and her band. But realistically we want to continue to work with the peers that inspire us in the Bay Area. Favorite artists right now? Maribou State, DJ Koze, Chrome Sparks, Olafur Arnalds, Khruangbin, Anderson .Paak.
If you guys were all going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you want to take with you and why?
James: If Nick takes a guitar, I’ll take a djembe.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
James: We wanted to make a more mindful project, something at peace with itself yet swept into the wonder and mystery of the landscapes that inspire us. California and Colorado are both so close to our hearts, the elemental nature of them calls to us here in the city. The challenge is then translating that sense of refuge into electronic music, to say something beyond words.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about your music?
James: ‘Diamondfruit’ is the crystallization of some of our most, peaceful healing tracks. But it’s just one side of Host Bodies. Our first album ‘Daily Apparatus’ showcases the variety of our sound. ‘Diamondfruit’ followed up on the melodic instrumental side. Next up, we are excited to explore our hip-hop and blues influences. We’ve got some bangers and some dance jams in the pipeline. Look for more of that later this year and in our live sets.