In 2014, the undeniable chemistry of Chris Steward and Rosie Long Dector drew them together during their college days, which led to their first EP in 2016. Bodywash is back three years later, with a unique electronic, yet mellow sounds of the duo’s newest album, Comforter. This was not an overnight production; their full length album took two years, multiple recording studios, the addition of other members, the help from other bands, and countless rewrites. Through trial and error, Bodywash’s efforts culminated into an album with a medley of refreshing sounds and instruments that Bodywash can be proud of.
In this episode, we pick at the brains of Chris and Rosie and find out about their lives as artists in Montreal, aspirations, and their journey to perfecting their craft.
What is Bodywash in one sentence?
Rosie: Bodywash is the blending of my song writing style and Chris’ production style into one band with dreamy, shoegazey, and electronic influences.
How did With Heat come to life?
Rosie: It actually started off as a completely different song, like an instrumental, that Chris wrote three years ago.
Chris: It was for a Converse Rubber Tracks competition. It was a 90s, alt rock song instead. It was a very different song.
Rosie: I had written vocals for it, but we had decided that we did not fit with where our sound was going. We recorded most of the rest of the debut album, but towards the last stage of our recording sessions, I really wanted to get With Heat on the album. So I sat down in an empty room with it, stripped the song down, and reworked it. I turned this song into a shoegazey, dreampoppy, song as opposed to this indie rock track that it started out as.
What are the three key words about with heat?
Rosie: Fuzzy, Enveloping, and Wistful
How is being a musician in Montreal?
Chris: Calling it [music in Montreal] a scene is disingenuous in a sense. There are so many overlapping scenes, like a venn-diagram. Describing it as a holistic thing is very difficult. I guess we are trying our best; we’ve broken out of our university scene. Now, it’s more about crossing over a lot of the time. I love the band scene and the acts that are coming through. The electronic scene is fascinating and really thriving here too. I did describe Montreal as a honey-pot, but it gets fresh honey once in awhile.
Rosie: Montreal, especially the anglophone scene, can feel quite small, in some ways. I think it’s also really great because it ends up feeling like a community and there’s a lot of grassroots and community based organization that get in touch with smaller artists and musicians. There are a lot of organizations that support local artists, weirder stuff, and experimental scenes, instead of just bringing in big artists.
Chris: I think it’s nice that people roll their eyes at you when you tell them you’re a musician. I kind of like that.
What are the challenges you’ve faced?
Rosie: A lot of them have been more internal than external.
Chris: It hasn’t always been the easiest thing. Montreal is a big student city and it is transient; people are always coming and going. So trying to find people that are around for the long haul is difficult. Being on the same wavelength as everyone is also difficult. This transient feeling leads to a feeling of impermanence. The people who have found people of permanence has adjusted well.
Rosie: We’ve had a lot of changes since our start-up. We’ve always had five members, but not we are the only and original two from the beginning. People move away all the time. The fact that a lot of people here in Montreal are musicians can feel stressful and I’ve had periods of anxiety of going to shows and stress about finding the right community.
Chris: When times get hard, I put my head in the sand and switch off sometimes.
Rosie: I think it’s good to disconnect and not to get too caught up in it. I feel like I am finally at a place where I have great people around me whom I can share my music with.
Do you guys feel trapped in Montreal?
Rosie: I used to. But I think I felt trapped by my university. I think Montreal is a really lovely city; the arts community here is amazing, the cost of living, although rising, is amazing as well. I think it’s because it’s such a great place to live, it can be easy to get too comfortable, but there’s also opportunities to get out of your comfort zone as well.
Chris: Montreal is a honey-pot; you see the honey in there, you fall inside, it’s sticky, and you get stuck there for four to ten years.
Rosie: I really don’t think there’s another city in Canada that’s like Montreal. It’s a place to be creative and it’s really wonderful.
what are some of your favorite places in montreal?
Rosie: I love to go to Arts Cafe.
Chris: I love to find a good apartment with good lighting, a good book, and hole up to check on the ol’ mental health.
If you guys were a vegetable, what would you be?
Rosie: If I were a vegetable, my first instinct would be to say tomato but that’s a fruit.
Chris: I’d be a garlic; I like being divisive and scaring off vampires. That green thing that is attached to the garlic that no one ever sees is also very delicious on its own.
What’s next for bodywash?
Rosie: Our first album comes out August 30th, it’s called Comforter we’ve been working on that for three years. Afterwards, we’re going to be touring in the states. We’re going to New York and Pop Montreal in September. After that, it’ll be more touring.