San Francisco-based duo Host Bodies revealed their second EP entitled “Diamondfruit” on February 8th.
“Diamondfruit” is an instrumental project offering a dreamy, poetic and warm atmosphere inspired by their home state of Colorado and their new home, San Francisco.
“It’s definitely on the chill side of our discography. These tracks were like smooth pebbles collected at a beach until we felt we had just the right selection to make a listening experience that feels like a meditative bike ride. The music isn’t ambient per se, but it has atmospheric elements and moments of minimalism and calm unlike of our other releases,” explains James.
Formed by MC/producer James Collector (aka Swoop) and multi-instrumentalist Nick Hess, the live electronic duo is painting a beautiful body of work where transcendence meets chill.
“Diamondfruit” is now available everywhere.
Introduce the band - what's your story?
Nick: Host Bodies began when James and I lived together in Boulder, CO during college. We’ve been collaborating on electronic music ever since, and now live and perform in the Bay Area. Our story is one of constant genre blending, bringing more live instrumentation, blues, and hip-hop to the electronic world. This new EP is more chill and meditative than other releases, a collection of healing sounds that developed in hectic times.
When did you start making music, individually?
James: I started playing drum set in my garage around age 12. Then, my drum instructor at the time showed me an electronic drum machine, how you could make a pattern then change all the sounds by turning a knob. I was hooked. I pirated a music software from my high school around age 15 and have been making beats for the last 17 years.
Nick: I got my first electric guitar when I was 9. My family was very musical and so I was surrounded by instruments at a young age. My great uncle was the legendary Jazz musician Bob Dorough, who would play piano every Christmas. Blues icons like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton were very influential to me as a teenager. Later I got into Zeppelin and Chili Peppers. Being a young Apple geek led me into Garageband and digital production.
When did you realize you had to form a band?
Nick: There was a moment one summer during college we were jamming in my basement. We had two laptops, a keyboard, and a guitar. This was before Ableton Live. Somehow, we decided to sync the laptops by pressing space bar at the same time, which took many tries to get it right. James had a droning bass note going and a processed break-beat. I started shredding some electric guitar like I do. We looked at each other and knew it could only go up from there. Syncing our laptops has gotten easier too (laughs).
Who came up with the band's name? What does it mean?
James: Years before Nick and I started making electronic music together, a brilliant and troubled friend of mine came up with the band name, Host Bodies. It stuck in my head and when I started making beats at age 19, I called the project Host Bodies. There’s layers to it. I don’t want to say it has any one meaning, but it feels like a magic word for me. It empowers me, humbles me, reminds me that I’m more than a body, but also that having a body is a profound gift. We called our first album ‘Daily Apparatus’ which is kind of an ‘idea-rhyme’ for Host Bodies.
Nick: I’ve always been a believer that every human being has genius level creativity waiting to be unleashed. You can open yourself up to the universe and be a vehicle for something beautiful, something profound. Sometimes I don’t even like taking credit for the art I create, because the source feels bigger than my body.
You recently released your single "Accept". Could you describe to us the recording/production behind it?
James: The recording happened over a period of several years. From wild takes plucking a modified auto-harp in rural Colorado to Nick’s odyssey of late-night sessions with his Les Paul goldtop, the track is a diverse mix of recordings. If I remember correctly, the heavily delayed ukulele riffs were recorded with a Zoom mic in the spur of the moment. Some of the guitar loops came out of Nick’s Line 6 looper. When we finally brought the track to Count Eldridge (an incredible producer and engineer), we were blown away by how much he improved the sound quality in the mixing and mastering stage. That guy has a golden ear.
What can you tell us about your new EP Diamondfruit?
James: I can tell you that we almost selected the genre category “Easy Listening” when we sent it to iTunes and Spotify. (laughs) It’s definitely on the chill side of our discography. These tracks were like smooth pebbles collected at a beach until we felt we had just the right selection to make a listening experience that feels like a meditative bike ride. The music isn’t ambient per se, but it has atmospheric elements and moments of minimalism and calm unlike of our other releases. Collaborating with Nick on this EP has been one of the most meaningful and sincere projects I have ever been part of. I think the music says something I could never find the words for.
What made you want to want to name your EP Diamondfruit? What's the story behind it?
James: When you’re working on something that takes a long time, there are moments when the inspiration is present and there are moments when it’s not. The idea of Diamondfruit is that when you keep your intention focused and pure throughout the process, the end result is truer. The listener can feel it. It’s as if the thing—it could be anything, a business plan, a sculpture, a garden, a pot of soup—carries that essence. When a label says, ‘Made with Love,” that’s similar to what Diamondfruit means to us. It’s all the music that grew out of our experiences in the beautiful places in Northern California and the mountains of Colorado. We tried to bottle that ocean mist and pine scent in music.
Nick: To me it’s a blend of something natural that grows from the earth and something elemental and geometric. The music has a very similar dynamic, recordings taken from the planet mixed in with sound waves from electronics, materials, ones and zeros.
How would you describe the sound of this project?
James: Warm. Dreamy. Chill. Transcendent. A tapestry of strings and soft synth sounds. Bare minimum of percussion. Introspective. Full of wonder.
Nick: Healing. Lush. Meditative. Ambient and melodic at the same time.
In your opinion, what makes a good production?
James: The sounds have to come from your own story. It’s easy today to make music with other people’s synth patches, loops, etc. Even though the “sound quality” might be less, it’s more interesting when the sounds carry the natural reverbs and tambres and syncopations of personal recordings. Also: collaboration is magic. I’ll write a song that I like a lot, but when Nick gets his hands on it, something unexpected happens. Beauty has be to surprising.
Nick: The science of sound is a continual learning process, and we’ve learned a lot working with talented engineers over the years. But we are always validated when we bring a special sound into the mix that no one could make but us. If it’s fresh and has character and feeling, the recording technique becomes less relevant.
What message do you want to deliver through your art?
James: It might sounds corny, but we think Diamondfruit can be summed up with that phrase, “Transcendence meets chill.” The word ‘chill’ gets used for so many things, but we wanted this EP to pay credence to the healing power of chill, the power of being transported through relaxation. The energy that comes from going deep into that quiet place inside, then coming back up rejuvenated. If Diamondfruit was a season, it would be spring.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
James: The tension between the city and wilderness is present in this collection of songs. It’s the longing to be surrounded by elemental nature and yet the need to go into the heart of urban centers and experience that flurry of human activity. Nick and I try to get outside as much as possible to draw energy from natural places, from the coasts and forests of northern California, from the mountains and deserts of Colorado. Somehow that natural energy transmutes into sound in the studio. We also inspire each other. The other day, we were talking about how being in a duo is very much like yin and yang in the way that it’s best if we never completely agree. We don’t want to agree, to be the same person. It’s magical to be different, to be in tension, in play.
How does San Francisco affect your creativity?
James: The fog is one of our gods (laughs). I can’t explain how the fog affects me, but as soon as it rolls in, starts billowing down the street at night, concealing the Financial District, licking at the cliffs by our studio near Lands End—I suddenly remember the myth of my life and music comes into me. I know this sounds so over the top, but it’s true. San Francisco has fallen on hard times with expensive rent and tech invasions, but the magic is still there, in the fog.
Nick: I miss the sun sometimes (laughs). James and I are different that way. I’m a sun worshipper. But when it’s foggy I get shit done. And he’s right there’s no shortage of moodiness in San Francisco. Inspiration, whether natural or man-made, is everywhere you look. The effect SF has on me is also cultural. It seems like everyone I meet is passionate about their work, their community, their world and how to make it better.
What do you think of today's music industry? If you had to change one thing, what would it be?
James: I’ve been looking for a really cool venue for a while, a place where up and coming electronic musicians can gather and share what they create without all the pitfalls of expensive drinks, litigious neighbors, hard drugs. I think rent prices and zoning have pushed artists out of San Francisco.
Nick: It’s exciting and discouraging at the same time. Young artists have more tools at their disposal than ever before, albeit with more competition. The democratization of music and algorithms threaten to increase mediocrity. The corporate gatekeepers like Spotify and Google may only be supporting the top 10% of artists. If I could change anything, it would be to stop the industry’s trend toward devaluation. Original music should be one of the most valuable things in our culture, but for the price of a library card you can have all of it.
What lessons did you learn in 2018?
James: Patience and trust, ongoing life lessons. From gear standpoint, I learned how much fun it is to use the swing function on my sequencers!
Nick: Follow through. Taking care and supporting those closest to you, even at the expense of yourself and your goals. I also learned about the new frontier of guitar pedal innovation. So much fun to be had there, and not only on guitars.
What are you goals for 2019?
James: Release a remix from one of our favorite producers…not telling who yet. Create a stripped-down set of our music that we can perform anywhere, not just venues with large PAs. We want to bring electronic music to unconventional venues.
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.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
James: Well, that’s a wormhole of a question. To keep it simple, I think it would make a huge difference if people could stop fearing “the other” and instead find respect and agape-love for strangers. You hear the phrase, “We are all in this together,” but when that actually sinks into your gut, your awareness skyrockets—you start seeing strangers as potential friends instead of enemies.
Nick: Free access to education. Free access to healthcare. Bridges not borders.
What's your purpose?
James: Oh, man…tell stories, I guess. Speak my truth in sound. Build the world I want to live in.
Nick: Making sounds and colors, learning every day. Supporting those around me and fighting the good fight.
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