James: Busy bodies, not enough hours in the day. Really hit the ground running in 2019.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Accept”?
James: Accept is an instrumental journey. I highly recommend listening to it on a bike ride or a drive in the country. There’s movement in the song. It takes you somewhere, gives you access to places. Nick and I are just really grateful to finally be able to release this song for our listeners. It’s a bit of departure from some of the hip-hop and gritty electronica we’ve released before. Accept is chill, but also transcendent.
Nick: It’s a song of many dichotomies — peaceful yet energetic, patient yet driving, both ambient and melodic at the same time.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
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. 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).
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Nick: We have always had a nostalgic relationship with an educational film from the 70s called “Powers of Ten”. It was shown to us in elementary school. Every ten seconds the camera zooms out by a factor of ten into outer space, then travels inward microscopically. It was the very first film to portray the large-scale “zoom out” effect that has been replicated countless times in movies and TV. During the final mastering stage for Accept we randomly decided to play it over the video. The pairing of the two seemed meant for each other and synced perfectly with the various changes. It’s our favorite way to experience the song.
Unfortunately the film’s copyright is still valid so it remains an unofficial music video. We hope to find a way to release it publically.
The single comes off your new album Diamondfruit – what’s the story behind the title?
James: I first typed the word Diamondfruit on a typewriter one morning after staying up all night playing music with Nick in our former jam space in the Inner Richmond of San Francisco. I think it was Easter. Everything was green and blossoming and the city had that kind of rare, dramatic, peaceful emptiness that early in the morning. It’s hard to put into words what Diamondfruit originally meant—it’s changed so much over the years. At the time, I remember thinking that diamondfruits were the final result of a kind of sacred intention. They came from diamondblossoms, which grew from the seeds of pure-hearted focus and concentration, that the mind can grind individual moments into a fine, shimmering powder, the tiny seeds which become Diamondfruits.
How was the recording and writing process?
James: Slow, patient, a labor of love. ‘One Under Won Over,’ the third track, was written in 2012. ‘Accept’ and ‘A Humble Student’ took more than a year to record. The way Nick and I work is, we will write a ton of song ideas and then slowly develop them all until a few emerge ahead of the pack, so to speak. Another metaphor might be buckets. We have buckets for different vibes and subgenres. The Diamondfruit bucket was all our tracks that feel like spring in California, when the pace is quick but the vibrations are healing and full of renewal.
What was it like to work with Count Eldridge and how did that relationship develop?
Nick: 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. He’s a Grammy nominated engineer so that’s not something you can say no to.
How much did he get to influence the album?
Nick: Honestly the songs had gone through many iterations already so we were confident with how we wanted it to sound, but a couple of the mixes were dense and challenging. Count’s expertise in that arena was extremely valuable. His sonic intuition is effortless so we let him do his thing and we’re thrilled with the results.
What role did CA and Colorado play in your music?
James: Most of the songwriting was directly inspired by specific places in CA and CO. Wildcat Beach, the second track on the EP, is a real beach in Point Reyes where you can stand on the cliffs and listen to the suck and roar of the waves below. Orange Marble was inspired by memories of my childhood in Colorado. I actually found an orange marble in my parent’s garage while I was home visiting. I must have lost that marble at age five or six, then found it over two decades later.
Nick: 2 years ago we stayed in my family’s cabin in Winter Park, CO for New Years, and brought some recording gear with us. That was another condensed session where we focused on this group of songs. It was snowing all around us while we developed the ideas, and it was a week of pure joy and relaxation. I think you can hear that in the music.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
James: No lyrics on this EP. I’m still writing rap verses but for Diamondfruit, we wanted to make music that was universal and timeless. Lyrics have a way of dating songs. One thing about instrumental is that it meets everybody where they are at. You can be young, old, speak a different language, whatever. It doesn’t ask you to follow a storyline or understand references. It’s just notes and we all have strings inside us waiting to be resonated.
Any plans to hit the road?
James: We would love to go on tour. Once we’ve made sure Diamondfruit has had its proper release, we’ll switch gears and focus on performance. We’ve been perfecting our live set for years and one of the new goals is to create a stripped-down version. From a gear standpoint, electronic music can be quite cumbersome. That’s why we want to see how minimalist we can get, in order to bring our music to venues where the only sound system is an amp or two. In the Bay Area, venues are in demand (some of our favorites have recently closed. RIP Hemlock). So it’s exciting to think outside the traditional box and see how we can bring our music to new listeners.
What else is happening next in Host Bodies’ world?
Nick: We have many visual ideas in the works, so there will be more video content released this year. Live concert graphics are something we want to make happen as well. But like James said, we want to strip it down before we build it up.
James: There might be a remix on the horizon, there might be some new collaborations with rappers and vocalists. But for now, go listen to Diamondfruit outside somewhere. Take a walk. Take some time for you.