Localized: Body Horror
Between the swirling electronica of Cassette Drift and the avant-goth danceability of Body Horror, September’s Localized showcase will present some of the most lively and dynamic post-punk Salt Lake City has to offer. To set the stage, solo, synth-pop artist maximradar will open. See all three acts for $5 at Kilby Court on Thursday, September 21 (doors at 7, music at 8). SLUG Localized is sponsored by Riso-Geist.
By the time I interviewed Body Horror, I’d already listened to their debut record, is reality over a dozen times. Their experimental, post-punk sound immediately appealed to the Joy Division fan in me, and I relished their dark, political lyrics. The group is blessed with a formidable combo of something important to say and the musical chops to make you sit your ass down and listen.
Julie Boswell is the founder of the band as well as the lead vocalist, bassist and lyricist. In her lyrics, Boswell strives to reframe narratives society is too comfortable with, often by couching them in horror concepts.
“I like ugly dance music. I’m trying to make an ugly dance music band.”
The band itself is a prime example of this. The band’s name comes from a tongue-in-cheek song Boswell wrote years ago wherein she toyed with the intersection of body horror as a film genre and our culture’s aversion to “body modification” and “transsexuality.” Boswell was “taken with the concept” and decided to cultivate it into a larger musical project. In April 2022, she took to Twitter to find collaborators, and that’s how Body Horror formed.
Boswell already recorded several demos when the band got together for the first time. After hearing these demos, each member built on Boswell’s outlines and developed them to match their own style and taste. The band has been operating on this model ever since, and every member considers this synergy one of the best things about the group. In Boswell’s words, “I can come up with an idea, and then it can become a real song with everybody’s help.”
And while Boswell writes all the lyrics, hers isn’t the only perspective shared through the music. She gives voice to what they all feel. About his first time listening to the demo for “Strange Premonitions,” drummer Connor Collings says it “perfectly expresses all of the things I’ve been feeling about the world.” Cecil Smith, the band’s keyboard player, agrees that “these are things that really need to be said.”
Despite all of the heady concept-alchemy in their lyrics, the group is first and foremost meant to be a dance band. “I like ugly dance music,” Boswell says. “I’m trying to make an ugly dance music band.” They pull it off. With their rapid-fire drums, chuggy bass, searing guitar and ethereal keys, the four-piece straddles the boppy line between post-punk and goth so well you’d be forgiven for missing the message and just swaying to the music.
“A lot of our main set is improvised. Every time we play our set, it’s a little bit different. The live shows have really taken on a very specific identity that is a lot of fun.”
And by all accounts, this is a band you haven’t heard until you’ve seen them live. The group is always pushing their sound to energetic new heights on stage through bold improvisation. According to Collings, “A lot of our main set is improvised. Every time we play our set, it’s a little bit different.” Boswell agrees, saying, “The live shows have really taken on a very specific identity that is a lot of fun.”
The band recorded is reality—the name of which is a reference to David Cronenberg’s 2022 film Crimes of the Future—at guitar player Dirk Jeffery Lamb’s newly-formed record label Wasteland Records. About the production process, Jeffrey said he wanted to bring the energy of the band’s live shows to the finished tracks, so he experimented with unique sounds and effects while mixing—sometimes in a delirious state at 3 a.m. The result is a startling, genre-melting flow through soundscapes that feel both strange but familiar.
When I asked if they have more music coming soon, Boswell said she’s been writing a lot lately and has several songs she’s almost ready to bring before the group. Jeffrey added that Wasteland Records has been hard at work on various other projects since is reality, many of which will release shortly. The whole band expressed their excitement for the upcoming Localized show. Don’t miss your chance to see them perform on September 21. I know I won’t.