Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – body / negative

Photo credit – Bailey Kobelin. Courtesy of Terrorbird Media.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Los Angeles-based queer, non-binary ambient artist body / negative – the musical project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Andy Schiaffino – recently dropped their debut album ‘Fragments’ via Track Number Records.

Ahead of the release of ‘Fragments,’ they unveiled previous singles “The Big Sleep” Feat. Void Of Course, “Catholic Guilt” and a cover of Elliott Smith’s “Figure 8” from “Schoolhouse Rock.”

The 22-year-old was raised in a Catholic, Spanish-speaking immigrant family and developed a love for classical music and opera. They wrote short, field recording-based ambient works often recorded in lo-fi capacities, described best as “unfinished, perfectly imperfect” pieces.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with them about ‘Fragments’ and more.

Music Bugle – What inspired your artist name?

body / negative – I’ve been waiting to be asked this one! (Laughs) I love hearing everyone’s theories. It’s quite literally just a little pun a friend of mine, Gwen Ovis and I came up with as we were hanging out at our favorite little cult-run hangout in San Diego. Over time though, my artist name makes me think of things like self-hatred, depression, etc., being negative towards your own existence, plus there’s a tiny little Type O Negative reference in there.

Music Bugle – Do you feel your young age gives you any sort of advantage in the current music industry?

body / negative – The only advantage I’d really think of is that I have plenty of time in my career to do whatever I want and hopefully have a huge oeuvre eventually! Aside from that, a lot of the time, it feels like more of a disadvantage. Not being taken seriously is a pretty huge thing I’ve run into from time to time.

Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your debut album ‘Fragments’?

body / negative – It was a long time coming! I started officially recording it last spring, but some songs like “Catholic Guilt” in particular started as demos from five or six years ago. I recorded the majority of it on my own, but “Figure 8” was done in partnership with my former partner and talented musician/producer Dylan Gardner. That’s him playing his instructor model Wurlitzer on the recording! The album remained pretty unfinished until quarantine set in. I got to really devote myself to finishing it with my newfound free time. During this time, I added tracks “With You,” “Safe As Houses” and “The Big Sleep.” These are some of my favorite tracks on the album! “With You” was actually an improvised loop I came up with while doing a livestream on my Instagram. It feels so special including it on my album. It’s so personal and feels like such a beautiful connection I have with my fans who were tuned in during its conception. “Safe As Houses” was a guitar loop I co-wrote with my friend Kyle Bray of many L.A. punk bands like Prized Pig and Laundry Boys. I ended up sending the loop to my friend Nick Ventura of Froth, Numb.er and Void Of Course, who ended up utterly transforming the track into something brand new, which ended up becoming “The Big Sleep,” the final track on the record.

Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience?

body / negative – My first reaction here is that I miss nothing! I have such bad stage fright and always have anxiety attacks daily until the day of the show. It’s completely unbearable and every time I’m able to get onstage, it feels like I’m defying the odds! (Laughs) But truth be told, what I miss is that feeling of total relief once the set is concluded. I’m finally able to breathe again and it’s totally surreal. Getting to interact with fans after is so wonderful too and so worth the aforementioned anxiety. Thankfully, being able to play digital shows has really filled that void and in some cases, feel even more personal than I.R.L. shows. Being able to connect with my fans is the greatest feeling.

Music Bugle – What has been your hardest challenge lately?

body / negative – Learning to navigate this new digital world is super overwhelming! I recently had to prerecord a set for a livestream coming out on Halloween and that was completely uncharted territory for me. Learning how to record a high-quality audio-visual set is a skill I never thought i’d need to acquire, but I’m sure it’ll prove useful for future ventures.

Music Bugle – What do you wish happened more in the music industry?

body / negative – I wish people made more of an effort to create diversity and acceptance in their spaces. More BIPOC and LGBTQ folx, please! I was raised in San Diego, which had a wonderfully punk-minded all-ages D.I.Y. venue called The Che Cafe, who preached inclusion, community and love. Some of my greatest memories were made there in my teens. I really hope to see a space like that be created in L.A., but that’s just the physical portion of it. Industry-wide, cis straight white men in power and otherwise need to let the aforementioned LGBTQ and BIPOC people’s voices be amplified. There is so much gatekeeping and mansplaining in both professional and indie environments and that’s absolutely got to change, or we’re going to drown in sad bastard music.

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory of your music career so far?

body / negative – Definitely getting to meet and befriend so many of my idols. Going from studying people’s history and technique on YouTube to casually being able to chat with them continually blows my mind and reminds me of how lucky I am. The last show I played was at The Echoplex in L.A., which has always been my favorite venue and a dream of mine to play. I opened for Chasms, who are friends of mine and the headliner was Seefeel, who if you aren’t familiar, are a beyond gifted post-rock/shoegaze/IDM project that are on one of my favorite labels, Warp. Just getting to be on that lineup was such a mindfuck, as was seeing my name on the marquee on Sunset Boulevard that I’ve driven past so many times in my years living in L.A.. A lot of electronic musicians I admire hugely were there too, from Noveller to Telefon Tel Aviv. I’m so grateful that that was my final show before quarantine. It was so special to me and always will be.

Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?

body / negative – Gosh, that’s a tough one. I’m pretty proud that I was able to overcome so many financial and familial obstacles that were standing in the way of pursuing my dreams. In my teens and early adulthood, I was in an abusive relationship, abused drugs and was homeless for a stint. Despite everything that stood in the way – and frankly, all the people who were constantly trying to stifle my dreams, I still ended up in L.A. doing my music thing. Most of the time, I just take things for granted and forget how different things are now compared to where I was at 17, but when I do remember, it fills me with so much happiness. I really wish my younger self could see what I’m doing now.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

body / negative – I’m one of the lucky ones – my full-time job in music licensing was deemed “essential” and I’m now working from home full-time. Before COVID hit, I was managing the box office at The Lodge Room in Highland Park and left weeks before the quarantine went into effect. If I didn’t have my full-time job – much love to Terrorbird Media – I’d be completely screwed. Without my extra job, I’ve been devoting that time to social justice causes, music and getting involved in my local community.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape? 

body / negative – When I can’t quite literally escape, I escape into movies. Some of my favorite films are “Buffalo 66,” “Paris, Texas,” “Wristcutters” and recently, “Natural Born Killers.” Do you see the theme going on here? Physically, I love escaping to Joshua Tree. I adore the desert. I lived in Arizona for a long time in my youth, so roadrunners and cactus will always have a special place in my heart. The huge expanse of sand and eerie quiet is so calming to me. 

*Photo credit – Nick Francher*

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