words: Nina Braca
Bodies Be Rivers’ debut album, Things I’ll Tell You When You’re Older, is a love letter to one’s former self. Lauren Smith’s soft voice echoes over dreamy reverb-laced riffs, telling a haunting story of growing up and getting old--both the good and bad parts. “This is no place to live, this is no place to die. Just quickly passing through,” Smith’s breathy vocals sing on “Golden Child.”
The record is out Friday, and we spoke to the Brooklyn-based group about their “pop creepy lullaby” LP.
This album was written to a younger version of yourself, what exactly were you trying to let your past self know?
In the midst of writing this album, I turned thirty. There was a profound internal shift that occurred during this entrance into my new decade. I started to look back on my 20's and really take stock in the young woman I was. In a way, my younger self was motivated to make her creative mark in the world in such a fierce and driven way that I find both endearing and exhausting looking back. Now, as I enter this new decade, I think I've mellowed out a lot and have shifted my focus from wanting external success into cultivating an internal peace first and foremost. Any other life successes have to come from that internal space or else I find myself burnt out and sort of useless as a person in the world. Over the course of the album, I try to revisit moments in my life as a younger person that felt difficult and not fully resolved. These songs are my attempt to let go of any antiquated ways of thinking that might still be buried inside and holding me back. They serve as a mode of healing, ultimately inviting my younger self to find some peace and fully integrate her into who I have become.
What are the biggest takeaways you want listeners to get out of this album?
Some of these songs we sat with and tweaked for many months; some songs we recorded but felt as though they strayed too much from the overall feel of the record so we let them go. It was important for us to make a collection of songs that fit together but also felt varied in terms of their specific individual environments. Our hope is that people will walk away from this record feeling as though each track holds its own unique sonic landscape while at the same time getting a strong sense of the collective universe that they all live in.
What takeaways did you get from this album?
The process of making a record and putting it out into the world is quite the undertaking, especially when you're an artist who chooses to self-release, which is the route we took. On a mere technical level, managing all the elements involved in getting a record made can make your head spin. In the process, you wonder, "Why did we do this to ourselves?!" But at the same time, there's a deep sense of pride and satisfaction in knowing that you were a part of every step that has brought your work to life. I think the biggest take away from the making of this album is that despite the sometimes tiring effort to stay motivated and advocate for your art, there's also a deep sense of reverence you can find in the process — if you fully surrender to all its ups and downs. Being able to grow the seed of an idea into a full fledged entity, shareable to the world, feels like a sacred act. That completion, in and of itself, is something that brings us a lot of pride and joy.
What was the recording process like?
The recording process was a dream. I'm so glad I get to talk about this and sing the praises of D. James Goodwin who engineered, co-produced, mixed and mastered this record. We recorded at his studio, The Isokon in Woodstock, NY. The first half of the record was recorded in September 2016 and the second half this past June. It's an all encompassing experience as we moved into the studio for the duration of the recording. We slept there, had our meals there, brought our dog with us… it was heaven. The Isokon feels like home and really makes the recording process a full out creative exploration where you don't have to worry about end times or studios closing, we would just work until we needed a rest and then wake up and keep on working! D. James Goodwin is such master at what he does and has worked with so many incredible artists. He really brought these songs to life, putting so much love and thought into each tune. It was a true collaboration.
What band/artists inspired you the most for this record?
There were a lot of bands that filled our ears during this recording. We're so lucky to be living in Brooklyn, surrounded by some of the best music in the world, and we've gotten to see many of these artists perform, which is always so inspiring. Some in particular that were on heavy rotation for us this year were: Big Thief, Tiny Hazard, Landlady, Half Waif, Mitski... These are just a few!
How would you describe your genre/ type of music?
Maybe dream pop creepy lullaby?