Listening to the 2019 Bodywash album Comforter is a cerebral journey into a weightless world of complex, layered sound and emotion. Or is it? Set aside the noise-cancelling headphones, crank up the speakers, and the record is now a misty, danceable background beat to a sunny laundry day.
For guitarist Chris Steward, that dichotomy is intentional: “It’s deep and delicious,” he says. “You really hear something different, every time you listen.”
Chris and musical partner Rosie Long Dector have been composing and performing together since 2014, when their first jam sessions in a residence-basement practice room at McGill University found them playing “something adjacent to shoegaze,” says Chris. “It was immediately dreamy and ethereal.”
Shoegaze—indie music known for its distortion and effects, looping feedback and shrouded vocals—is an apt label for Bodywash’s sound, but from those humble basement beginnings their sound has evolved into their own distinct style. “It’s messy and it’s not always perfect, but that’s the beauty of it, really,” says Rosie.
Touring on hiatus during the pandemic, Rosie returned to university to pursue a master’s degree, and Chris (a native of London, England) focused on the complicated immigration process—the anguish of which made its way into their upcoming record, just in its finishing stages now.
“We started writing the record immediately after the last album, so some of the songs date back to 2018,” says Rosie. Comforter took a tedious five years to complete, but Chris figures, “we get the most-improved band for this one,” wrapping it up in a mere three years.
“We did a few streams over the pandemic, which was an interesting experience. And we’re grateful for the vaccine passport system that allowed us to perform indoors a couple times this fall,” says Rosie. “It was bizarre playing to a seated crowd, for sure, but it felt great.”
Taking tentative steps to get back on the road, the band has international festival gigs lined up for the spring. And, thanks to their invitation to join the Blundstone Playlist V, the entire band will be sporting new boots as they make their way on stage.