INTERVIEW: Body Language

body language

Body Language is a brooklyn-based electropop four-piece comprised of Matthew Young, Angelica Bess, Grant Wheeler and Ian Chang. They describe their genre as “Sex”, which indeed hits the nail on the head so to speak. However in their own defenses, one could also say that they make irresistibly dance-y glitch pop, that balances exquisite musicianship with catchy songwriting. Our girl Madison got to have a little chat post dance party with the gang, and discuss their fans, their tour, and how the glockenspiel is basically an indispensable musical instrument in the grand scheme of things. Here’s what went down.

Madison Bloom for Audiofemme: First off I just wanted to say: what a fun, kick ass show you guys played at Baby’s the other night!  Good on ya! So, you’re about to head out on a massive tour of the West Coast.  What cities are you most excited to get to?

Angelica Bess for Body Language: San Francisco is our second home. We plan to get rowdy and sell out this one coming up this Friday at the Bottom of the Hill.

MB: You guys have gotten a lot of well-earned positive press not just in the States, but in the UK as well; have you had a chance to tour overseas yet? If so, how did you find the audiences differed from those Stateside?  

AB: It’s unfortunate we still haven’t been overseas yet. I feel like overseas is this pen pal that who we’ve writing back and forth to each other for years and have never actually met. Still waiting for that invite.

MB: When I was at your gig a few weeks back, I overheard a girl in the crowd asked her friend: “have you ever seen them before?!” to which her friend replied “no”.  “Oh!  You’re a virgin!” she said. Sounds like you guys have a pretty dedicated following. Any aspirations for pop-idolatry? 

AB: Our life long fans honestly have turned into our best friends. We hang out with some of them after shows and always discover that they are also talented devoted individuals. I think we aspire to be more like that rather than idols.

 MB: How did you come by the name Body Language? At first I thought, ‘that’s a damn well fitting name for an electropop outfit’. But then I wondered if it wasn’t a reference to Queen Kylie (Minogue)’s 2003 record of the same name…

AB: Matt came up with the name back in 2008 around when we first started. We had a weird name back then when we were playing underground local shows when we first moved to Brooklyn. Matt did some serious research to make sure it didn’t belong to anyone else. The name went well with the songs we were writing so we had to keep it!

MB: Angelica, I’m actively not mentioning that you are a glockenspiel guru, and instead will state that you are a vocalist guru. In fact, I think you’re all guru-like considering your respective instruments. How did each of you gravitate towards particular instruments and/or music in general?

AB: Singing was always something that was engrained in me even though I never knew I had the talent. Grant and Matt pretty much squeezed it out of me and have me something easy to sing along with since we already had two keyboards. The glock complimented almost all the songs we were performing and I quickly developed playing it. It’s basically my back up singer. I’m so in love with  all instruments that I can’t decide which ones to focus on. I’m now working on playing bass and drums. 

MB: I noticed at the show that there was a very distinct line bisecting the audience-those who dance, and those who do not dance. I’ve heard that New York is not the dancyist city there is, and I’ve been in denial for years, but it might just be true.  What, in your experience, is the dancyist city, and how the hell can we make New York more dancy?

AB: New York City dances but we are very particular. We’re not just going to get down to old thing. We’re too experienced for that and we party late and all night so we gotta pick and choose our battles. 

MB: Body Language seems to exist in this “in-between space” in music, not only sonically, but also formally; you play dance music but you’re so clearly a group of real musicians as opposed to mere sample alchemists.  How does your songwriting process work in that in-between space?  Are you all contributing hooks on different recording tracks, songwriting live in a practice space? How do you do it?

AB: Matt and Grant are the producers but they’re also jazz-trained musicians. They both have conquered the process of musical production. They send me instrumentals and I write hooks, lyrics, melodies. When we are ready to perform the songs we all come together with Ian to write the song in a live element. 

MB: Your lyrics have a lot more depth than those found in most contemporary dance music.  You don’t seem to be singing about scarfing Molly and partying, but real emotions from real life. What do you find informs your lyrics the most?

AB: Mostly the ups and downs of relationships. Crossing bridges, burning bridges, etc

MB: From what I’ve read, you are all highly collaborative and everyone takes part in crafting each song. Do you guys function this way only on a professional level, or are you kind of a family?

AB: Both. We’ve known each other for years and years since we were in college so we are basically a family. But when it comes business and song writing we get pretty professional giving each other space and time to contribute to writing the song. 

MB: So you have 2011’s Social Studies and current release Grammar.  I can’t help but notice the school subject trend…any particular story behind these names?

AB: It’s related to growing up, immaturity, and moving on to the next grade in life. We’re still growing up, learning about life and ourselves.

MB: This is a bit of an odd question…but have you guys heard the song “Rip it Up” by Orange Juice?  I think you’d really like it!  Killer bass keyboard hook! 

AB: Hahaha yes! Should we do a cover?

MB: That would be amazing!! Anyway, Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us!  Have a blast on your tour, and keep ‘em dancing!

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