Body Stuff Interview

Paul Roura

The New York duo Body Stuff just released their latest opus, Body Stuff 4. One track features an unexpected guest, ’80s pop icon Tiffany. Frontman Curran Reynolds fills us in on that collaboration along with the rest of the album, some Springsteen comparisons, how his musical background helps with his day job, and other topics.

Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for Body Stuff 4 compare to your earlier EP’s?
Curran Reynolds: The process was the same, essentially. Walking around the city or just living life, I hear music in my head. It starts with hooks and phrases and the songs take shape from there. I let it happen. It might take a year. When a melody or a lyric is important enough to become a song, I know it. From there, I make demos at home then bring the demos to my friend Ryan Jones and together we track and mix the songs at his studio. The Body Stuff 4 demos were more fleshed-out than the demos for the EPs, that’s the big difference.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
The collab with Tiffany.

What was the biggest challenge in recording Body Stuff 4?
It’s more that the events outside the recording were challenging. We started in the spring of 2020 and we got the final masters back from Brad Boatright in the fall of 2022. The pandemic was the backdrop to the album. Living alone, here in NYC, self-employed, figuring it out, one day at a time. And within that time, I experienced some of the wildest events of my life. I watched two people I love suffer psychotic episodes that put them both in the hospital. My mom and I found one of her best friends dead. One of my best friends died a violent death and we still don’t know how or why. Cancer diagnoses. More deaths. My body changed: strange vibrations, tooth decay, shitting blood. My building was sold and I faced eviction at a time when rents were at a record high.

How has your sound evolved from Body Stuff 3?
The spirit is the same. I make this music from inside it, not outside it. I am guided by the songs themselves, rather than by a goal of trying to sound like this or that. The intention is to make beautiful songs that will rock me. But, to compare Body Stuff 4 to Body Stuff 3, I would say… There’s more piano on Body Stuff 4!

What lyrical topics do you cover on this one?
“The Chains” is a song about fathers and sons. The son takes pride in the father but also wants to be free to write his own story. “Transmission” says “there is no right or wrong, just consequence.” That’s the law, right there. That is God. “Body Stuff 4” is an instrumental. “Fame” is a trip down memory lane, looking back at your life like you are the hero of your own movie.
“S.O.S.” is another trip down memory lane. A song about NYC summers. “Champion Song” is a pep talk, for anyone who needs it. Like, I’m the cornerman and you’re the boxer. “World Peace” is another pep talk. A message of hope and homecoming. “New York in the Rain,” which originally appeared on Body Stuff 3 and appears here as a remix by Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart, is about life’s highest highs and lowest lows, and how they are perhaps one and the same. Whether looking up from the bottom of the hole, or looking down from the balcony, the view is beautiful.

How did you come to work with Tiffany on “Fame”?
It’s a dream come true, really. 10 years old, living in Maine, “I Think We’re Alone Now” was all over the radio. I loved that song and Tiffany was a big deal to me. When I was making the new album, I wanted to find someone great to sing with me on “Fame.” Long story short, I contacted Tiffany through a friend of a friend and, to my surprise, she said yes.

I put guests on all three of the Body Stuff EPs too. That’s always a really fun part of the process for me. The first EP had Matt McAuley from A.R.E. Weapons and Greg Kramer from Wetnurse. The second EP had Garett Bussanick from Wetnurse and Aeviterne, and Ariel Hall, a friend of mine from elementary school. The third EP had Andee Blacksugar from KMFDM, who now plays in Blondie, and Polly and Al from 1-800-BAND.

How was the video shoot for that song?
I made the “Fame” video last summer in my hometown of Camden, Maine, with help from my girlfriend. I loved making it. It’s a song about the past, so it felt good to shoot the video in one of the places I grew up.

Do you enjoy filming videos, or are they a necessary evil for promotion?
I love it. Before making the “Fame” video, I made videos for two other Body Stuff songs, “New York in the Rain” and “Spies,” with help from my friend Brandon Gallagher. Then last year I made a video for my friends in Dead Waves, for their song “Innermost.” I loved MTV as a kid and I still love the art form.

How did the remix for “New York in the Rain” by Xiu Xiu come about?
I got into Xiu Xiu on the Angel Guts: Red Classroom album. At some point I reached out to Jamie and told him I was a fan. After I released Body Stuff 3, I asked him if he’d like to remix “New York in the Rain” and he was into it. His remix is perfect. He created something new out of my song. Equally brutal and euphoric.

What inspired the album art?
You’ll see certain motifs recur throughout all the Body Stuff artwork. Palm trees, chains, water, sky, eyes, The Statue of Liberty, etc. These are images I am drawn to. They just hit a nerve and feel important. I make the art and the meanings present themselves after.

A couple of reviews have compared your vocals to a hardcore/punk Bruce Springsteen. Do you hear that, and is he an influence at all?
He’s never been a conscious influence on me, but I like the comparison. When they say Bruce, I think they mean, you know, something passionate and gruff, and I hear that in my songs.

How much attention do you pay to reviews?
I like press. I had a Rolling Stone subscription when I was 10, 11, 12 years old. In those formative years, reading that magazine was a big part of what got me hyped on bands. As a maker of music, to this day, it makes it feel official, to have my music written about. It’s cool to see what people have to say.

What has been your most memorable Body Stuff live show?
Playing with Godflesh here in NYC in 2018 was a good one.

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
I am stoked for our next show. June 21st, it’s a block party here in NYC for my friend’s store, The Cast. Beyond that, we have more NYC shows in the works and I want to bring it on the road soon.

You’re a longtime music publicist. What advantages does also being a musician provide in that job?
Yeah, I’ve been making music since I was 10 years old. First as a drummer, then as a singer and songwriter. I’ve made albums and played hundreds of shows across the world. I’ve booked hundreds of shows, I’ve made the flyers, I’ve designed the t-shirts. I think, with that experience, I am in tune with the artists I rep. I get it, from their perspective. I know how much this all means to them and I enjoy helping them achieve the things they want. I bring a lot of passion to the job. Looking at the situation from the perspective of the folks I pitch to – the editors, the writers, the podcasters, etc. – maybe part of why they value what I have to say, is that they know my background.

When you started in the music industry, the internet was in its infancy and social media didn’t exist. Do you miss the days where there was more mystique around an album release, or do you like the transparency and interaction of today’s promotion process?
Yeah, my own relationship to music as a kid was intense and I think part of that was the mystique, the lack of information. The imagination just ran wild and every little scrap of information was valuable. It’s a different vibe nowadays. We are spoiled by the amount of content and access we have. But, although I can glorify the old days, it is awesome to live in 2023 with such an excess of content and access. The trick is to stay grateful and stoked. In terms of how PR has changed, we can do more, faster, and with less waste, nowadays.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Art. Film. Running. I picked up Leaves of Grass the other day and I am really enjoying it.

What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
The new season of I Think You Should Leave.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Some new 2023 songs in rotation right now: Miranda and the Beat – “Sweat,” Swans – “Los Angeles: City of Death,” Caroline Polachek – “Welcome to My Island,” Jesus Piece – “In Constraints,”
Chat Pile – “Cut.” Also, I listened to A Love Supreme last night and it rocked me hard.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Body Stuff 4 is out now! Play it loud! Thanks for the interview, Chad!

(interview published June 4, 2023)

Watch Body Stuff featuring Tiffany – “Fame” Video


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