Interview :: Introducing Beaten Bodies
February 1st 2014
Looking at these fresh, smiling faces it’s hard to believe that Beaten Bodies could be mistaken for a hardcore thrasher band.
One need only listen to a live performance to be lost in their rich musical performance driven by multi-layered grooves, that combine elements of jazz, hip hop and soul. Lucy Smith caught up with Novak Manojlovic (keys) and Geordie Crawford (saxophone) ahead of the launch of their new single ‘Crowns’ at FBi Social this Saturday.
So just to start off, describe Beaten Bodies in one sentence:
Geordie: Beaten Bodies is a musical melting pot of handsome faces, dark souls, and groovy beats.
Novak: Oh, that’s good!
Beaten Bodies as a name is pretty dark, what were the origins of that?
N: We were stuck on it for ages and we went through all these different options. It’s actually a really infuriating thing to think about unless you’ve already got an idea… But it came from Beat and Bodies, Marli (vocals) explains it as the two things you need to make music. But we have lost gigs to booking agents who think we’re a hardcore band. Ironically it was on one instance from a band called the Villains. So if we’re taking names literally, we didn’t really want a play a gig with villains anyway y’know. (That’s our BB joke)
Your Facebook bio says you “combine elements of jazz, soul, hip hop and electronic”, all with a three piece horn section – how did it come together?
G: Well initially there wasn’t much thought behind it, it was just for our bass player’s brother’s party – and we played a bunch of covers. I suppose we liked the company, and we liked the music, because it was a little different to what most people were doing but it wasn’t that original. We thought, ‘why don’t we do something a bit more unique with it?’ and we started writing originals.
With seven bodies in Beaten Bodies, <N: Niiice> how do you go about recording? Is it a hefty process?
N: I guess the recording process is we go in first and lay down all the rhythm stuff – so it’s me, Harry (drums) and Liam (bass). And we do all that stuff and a few overdubs and things like that, and in the meantime the horns are practicing, or “practicing.” And they do what they have to do, and Marls usually takes about a day to do the vocals. But everything just always takes a lot longer than you think it does.
G: And I reckon with the horns, the simplest things are usually the hardest – like hits. And it takes so long, and you think ‘it should be so easy, I only need to play one note.’ But we scrutinise it so much.
You released your first single ‘My Mantra’ in 2012, how do you feel you’ve progressed since then?
N: I guess back then we were still trying to figure out where we wanted to go with the sound. And one person would bring in a song, and it would be like an electronic bonanza, and then someone would bring in another the next day and it would be an old school swinger. So it was kind of this weird amalgamation of things. But then mid-way through last year we were like, ‘this is what we want to sound like.’ So we were listening to lots of neo-soul, hip hop, and funk – and so now we have a very strong direction.
G: I think our listening is a lot more focused. It’s good to have a diversity of music that you listen to – but it’s good to hone in on something and really understand it. And I think all of the band are primarily listening to the type of music that we play, which is a good thing for the time being at least.
With that in mind – what was the recording process like for the new single ‘Crowns’?
G: It was the second time we’d recorded at the Vault in Balmain with a guy called Drew Bisset…and he’s the sound guy at 505, which is a famous jazz club in Sydney. And he approached us and said, “I love your sound, I’d love to record with you.” So we sussed him out, we did our research, did a background check; he wasn’t a murderer, so we went with him. <laughs>
N: And because it was the second time, we knew each other pretty well and knew what we wanted – and also the first single of our upcoming EP, ‘Shoot My Birds’, was a chance for us to try some things out and see what worked. So there were some different things with ‘Crowns’, so there’s more keyboard stuff, and different drum mics and horn recordings. So that was really cool. It was just a really relaxed thing because it’s right on the water.
So, what can we expect from the ‘Crowns’ Single Launch at FBi Social this Saturday?
N: Good times. We’re playing with the Jesse Witney Trio, but also this band called The Venusians. I mean, I know we should be blowing our own horn, but these guys are a band full of my favourite Sydney musicians, basically. Like they’re unbelievable, that’ll be awesome. And we’re doing a new live formula, for our shows, which is fun for us and exciting for the audience.
G: It’s unpredictable and mysterious.
Finally, if Beaten Bodies were in a Miss America/World pageant, who would take the Crown?
N: I reckon you (Geordie) have a pretty face for a pageant.
G: I don’t know how I’d go in a bikini though?
N: Geordie was once told in that, was it Overheard?
G: You know Spotting MX, how they’ve got love letters? It was like, “To the Sydney Uni student who gets on at __________ station, you have lovely legs.” And there’s only two of us who get on there – and I think from my legs it’s obvious that it’s me…Yeah, I’m definitely the winner.
If you want to be the judge of Geordie’s pins, then head to this!