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Indie Duo Host Bodies Deliver Thoughtful EP 'Diamondfruit' [Interview]

Host Bodies, comprised of long-time friends James Collector & Nick Hess, recently released their EP Diamondfruit. The indie-electronic duo worked on the EP for a total of 5 years, drawing inspiration from their surroundings and landscapes. This EP is the second major release from them; their first in 2016. Together, these two have collaborated and made music since middle school, and remained friends and music buddies ever since.

Read more about their unique story and the background behind the EP below!

River Beats: Hey guys! Introduce yourselves.

JAMES: Hi, I’m James Collector. My hip-hop friends call me Swoop. I started playing music with Nick in middle school: me on the drum kit, Nick on the guitar. Just two little dudes getting loud in the garage. Now, 20 years later, we’re still getting loud, but in a different way.
NICK: Hey I’m Nick Hess. I’ve been playing guitar most of my life, and I’m also a graphic designer and visual artist. James and I both grew up in Boulder, CO before moving to San Francisco in 2012. It’s been a long journey and yet we feel like we’re just getting started.

I know that you two have been working together for quite a while, but how/when did Host Bodies come to fruition?

JAMES: It’s hard for us to pinpoint when the hobby became a professional passion. The line is blurry. Nick and I both have different pursuits. He does freelance motion graphic design. I write fiction and nonfiction; I design and build gardens using permaculture principles. But music has always been this force in my life. Nick and I were roommates for a year at CU Boulder in 2006, but after that we continued to collaborate on tracks. Whereas a lot of people talk about playing music, Nick was the kind of artist who picks up a guitar and you just have to start recording him. Something golden is going to happen. I’m the kind of producer who collects every sound and theory idea I can get my mic on. We’ve both been serious about making good music all along.

Was it just something that you all did as a hobby before it became something “real”?

JAMES: I’m not sure what the difference between hobby and real is, to be honest. Nick was the one who pushed me to take Host Bodies into the performance realm. Maybe what makes it real is a certain number of hours spent? A certain number of arguments with your neglected partner? A certain number of grimey dollar bills handed to you after a bar gig? I suppose hobbies don’t keep you up at night. We still have day jobs. Yet I think both of us want to make music all day as our main job. We want to live music.
NICK: It’s always been a real pursuit, but now I think we’re getting closer to it being our profession. Or at least that’s the goal.

you both have probably seen some interesting progression (or regression?) in the music industry. Are there any major elements you two have seen evolve into now? What would you like to see get changed?

NICK: We’re just old enough that we experienced first hand the tectonic shift of the last 25 years in music. In elementary school we’d hear one hit song on the radio and ask our parents to buy the $18 CD so we could listen to it in the car. Those bands made millions in retail stores because of one song, even if most their album was shit. Those millions of plays on Spotify today would earn a band 10 grand, maybe? In middle school Napster happened. We were 13 years old, watching progress bars for hours to download one MP3. Freshman year of high school I bought the very first iPod. By senior year every kid had one in their pocket. It’s a trip man! The good news is the quality of music has stayed great and probably gotten even better. There are albums in the last 10 years that are among the best albums ever made, in my opinion. So I wish artists were being paid more for their hard work. I wish the industry wasn’t controlled by tech giants.

But I still believe more than ever in music’s power to bring positive change on this planet.

Let’s talk about your EP that came out two weeks, Diamondfruit. How long did it take you to create?

JAMES: Years. We write a large amount of material. Loops, chord progressions, rhythm ideas, ambient textures, anything and everything. Making music is a weekly, if not daily, passion. Every season or so, we have to look back over all the sketches and decide which ones to develop. Diamondfruit is seven tracks of the most peaceful, healing sketches we generated over about 5 years. It’s almost as if there’s a seasonality to our songwriting: every spring, I know I’m going to write a chord progression that feels Diamondfruit-esque.

Where did you both draw your inspiration for Diamondfruit from? 

NICK: From the landscapes and natural forms that inspire us day to day, in California where we live, and in Colorado where we’re from and visit every year.

We believe strongly that every human being is creative, every human being is an artist. They just need to tap into what makes them feel alive, what makes them feel good and express it fearlessly.

Do you see any collaborations in your future?

JAMES: So many. Being a duo means there’s plenty of space for other artists. We’ve already got some tracks in the pipeline. We’ve been jamming a lot with a techno producer named Bengal. And I’ve recorded some new rap verses with the talented MC/storyteller Ryland. He’ll be featured on an upcoming release. We’re also looking for the right relationship with a vocalist who is inspired by our sound.

What’s to come for the rest of the year from you two?

JAMES: […] We are developing a stripped down live set that is extra portable and quick to set up, so we can bring electronic music into non-traditional spaces. We also have a couple remixes burning a hole in our pocket. First, we want to give Diamondfruit its proper release because this EP is so close to our hearts. It’s not necessarily the only way we want to be remembered, but it feels like the most honest, sincere gift we have to offer to our listeners thus far. Once we feel like we’ve done justice to this release, we’ll be back with something completely different that picks up some of the hip-hop, blues, and dance threads we showcased in our debut album. So, in the spirit of Diamondfruit, don’t focus on what’s next for us.

Focus on the present, this moment right here as you finish reading and life is happening and you’re part of the big mystery.

Featured image by Mark Sandhoff.

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