Body Type did not intend on making A Big Statement with their new record, EP2 (out May 3 on Partisan Records / Inertia Music), but at its heart lies an incidental anthem.
First written by bassist Georgia Wilkinson-Derums as a poem, ‘Uma’ is filled with abstract symbolism, religious iconography and terrifying animal imagery. “It’s like this connected web of storytelling,” Annabel Blackman explains, as her fellow guitarist and vocalist Sophie McComish hums in agreement. “It’s Georgia’s life, but also outlining what’s going on with women at the moment … connecting together and becoming outspoken and empowering each other.”
Over crunchy guitars, Georgia issues a call to arms – All for one and one for all / All for one and one for the downfall – and surrenders to absolute vulnerability, spitting and howling in the spirit of Patti Smith opening her notebook to first perform her own secretly scribbled poetry in public.
Harnessing an “energy of anger”, as Annabel describes it, the song connects to recent cultural movements, where, as Sophie puts it, “personal becomes public, and private becomes shared experience”.
Shared experience is as close to a Body Type mission statement as you might find. The four-piece – completed by Cecil Coleman on drums – patched themselves together in Sydney in 2016 and found they each contained pieces that perfectly complemented one another’s. They soon set about articulating their ideas through jangling guitars and scuzzy, lo-fi production, and found that audiences at home and around the country were eager to get sucked in.
The journey from where they began – DIY soundproofing a room in their sharehouse to record their first demos – to where they are now – releasing their second EP in just six months, and preparing to play their first run of international shows with awards under their belt (they took home ‘Best Live Act’ and ‘Next Big Thing’ at FBI Radio’s 2017 SMAC Awards) and international support from the likes of BBC1, KCRW and RRR backing them up – has been, as Sophie describes it, like “a big wavy ocean, calming.”
“It feels like all the parts of the machine have fallen into place. Like the reigns have been put on the horse … but she’s still very wild and can go in any direction.”
It’s a partnership between four women that feels both deliberately constructed and destined to exist – a sentiment that plays into the imagery Body Type conjures both in their songwriting and visuals, with recurring references to the tarot, astrology and the spiritual or subconscious worlds touching much of their work.
It’s fitting, then, that EP2’s first single, ’Stingray’, felt so karmically designed. A chance draw from a stack of animal tarot cards offered Sophie two guides: the earthworm and the stingray. Her inner protector emerged almost instantly. “The stingray represented having no spine and needing to be more communicative and take control of your life. I could see those traits in a few of my friends, who were in these really dead-end relationships that they kept going back to. This song is about me shaking my friends out of that, like, ‘Stop that! You are bigger and better than this!’”
EP2 combines five tracks written anywhere between two years and two weeks before Body Type arrived at producer Konstantin Kersting’s (The Belligerents, Emerson Snowe, The Church) Airlock Studios to begin recording. One of the earliest to exist was Sad Wax, a contemplative note struck by Annabel. “Thematically, it’s about being so overcome with emotion that you can’t function as a person anymore,” she recalls.
Even as she crafted this song that would become a moment of true tenderness and vulnerability among all of the band’s energy (“We’re a bit dramatic by nature”), Annabel wasn’t sure what space it could occupy. “I thought maybe it was a bit too quiet because I don’t know if delicacy really translates live.”
What Sophie is quick to remind her, though, is that Sad Wax exists as a kind of psychic twin to 264, one of the first tracks Body Type ever recorded, which Annabel also wrote. “I feel like those two occupy the same space in our set.” They act as magnets, drawing you in and granting you a fleeting moment of access to a performer who’s perhaps more comfortable watching the crowd than she is being watched by them.
Elsewhere on the record, Annabel is credited with Free to Air. Her storytelling paints a hazy scene, but relies on you to draw the outlines yourself. “I think I’m interested in writing about my emotions in a detached way, and expressing them through inanimate things or my surroundings, instead of talking about myself,” she says, describing the vindictive thrill that came from writing “kind of a joke song” about an annoying neighbour whose regimented TV schedule bled into the borders of her life, and the voyeurism she employed in observing him so intently as payback.
Completing the record is Insomnia, which takes place much closer to home, in a place no curious eyes can find. A song about finding serenity in nature and safety in a sweet lover’s arms, it’s a moment that feels intimate and infinite all at once – kind of like Body Type; a band that Australian fans will forever proudly consider “theirs”, even as they set their sights on the wider world.