Bristol’s Body Clocks – aka Josef (Jo) Kašpar and Joe Craven – are a duo of electronic musicians whose psychedelic electronic sets have been slowly gaining attention at their own series of nights and beyond, with increasingly regular bookings across Bristol, including this year’s Harbour Festival.
The next instalment of their Dialogue nights is coming up this September at Crofters Rights – this time a collaboration with London-based label and club night Let’s Go Swimming for a full on night of bass-laden, futuristic, techno noise.
On the bill is Let’s Go Swimming label boss Henry Fry, Bristol’s Timedance label boss Batu, Dialogue resident re:ni B2B Sybil, and Body Clocks’ own Joe Craven. We sat down to ask them a few questions.
a full on night of bass-laden, futuristic, techno noise
Can you tell us a bit about your history – how the pair of you met and why you decided to start recording music together?
Jo: We’ve been friends since we were 11, so we know each other pretty well. I started early and was playing bass in bands pretty solidly from the age of 9 – mainly angsty indie rock, then I transitioned into more electronic stuff later on.
Joe: I’ve always been more of a producer. I started off recording from a keyboard into a 4-track recorder when I was about 12. I eventually got Logic when I was about 16 and started making tunes influenced by people like James Blake and Teebs – fairly laidback downtempo stuff.
Jo: We started making music together a couple of years ago, when Joe brought round a track he’d been working on. I was really impressed and we decided to start working on it together. It ended up being Luna, the track we just released with the EP.
Dialogue celebrated its first birthday a few months back. What have been your favourite moments so far, and what are your plans for the future of the carefully-curated club night series?
Jo: We’ve been to some really great nights recently around the UK and have been speaking to other promoters about teaming up and doing a night together. We’ve recently moved to Crofters Rights for our EP launch, which was great. As we gain a regular audience we’re also hoping to do events in more unusual spaces with more freedom for décor, curfew, etc. as well as doing one-off intimate nights in pokey basements around the city.
we try to curate a night that gives an element of surprise and we try to book acts that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be on the same lineup, so there are always a few nerves
As for favourite moments, we try to curate a night that gives an element of surprise and we try to book acts that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be on the same lineup, so there are always a few nerves and when the audience reacts positively it gives us a real buzz. For example, the climax of AJA’s chaotic noise performance followed by re:ni’s controlled acid and techno set was pretty special – it was probably the highlight for us. Special mentions to Bruce and Giant Swan also!
For those who would want to start their own night, what advice would you give them?
Jo: Try to really think about your curation and do something that’s a bit different. The more effort you put into décor and the general feeling of the night, the better response you’ll get from people. Promotion is hard work, but important!
Make sure your night is inclusive and be proactive in making sure your lineups are representative – promoters have a responsibility in the wider political and musical climate. Don’t be another Konstantin…
So you are both based in The Island – a complex of studios and event spaces in Bristol city centre with a strong community feel. How important are spaces like these to the music scene?
Jo: we’re so lucky to have got a studio here and we’re so grateful to the Island for the amount of effort they put in to make the spaces work. There’s a great community of artists and musicians here. Now that we’re a bit more settled we’re hoping to get more involved in it!
Having a space like this has been a huge step up for us in terms of our work ethic and giving us a creative space that we can work in whenever we want. We have plans to make it more of a functioning recording space so that it starts to pay for itself, but we’re trying to keep enough time to actually make music as well.
You have just released your new Still Life EP this summer. Tell us a little more about how that came about and what the future brings in terms of further releases – can we expect an album soon?
Jo: We’d been working on it for the last two and a half years and it’s been a massive relief to finally release it. To be honest it’s been a big learning curve both in terms songwriting/production and learning all the dry industry side of things. The process of making it took a lot longer than we expected, as we made the decision early on that our mixing skills weren’t quite up to scratch, so a friend of Joe’s helped us out whenever he could find some time from his day job at a commercial studio.
We now have a backlog of tracks we’ll be finishing off and releasing over the next year or so
We now have a backlog of tracks we’ll be finishing off and releasing over the next year or so, but we’ll probably do a few singles or another EP before doing an album.
How would you describe your creative process and how has it evolved since you first started? Where would you like to go in the future?
Joe: Our tracks originate from a variety of different starting points. Some are from live jams, or one of us might start a track and bring it to the other for intense scrutiny and harsh putdowns. From there, we tend to swap it between us, as well as having sessions working on it together. The aim eventually is to be able to come up with fairly fleshed out songs through improvising parts of the live set.
the more we’ve gigged, the more relaxed we’ve become, allowing us to concentrate on the performance rather than the technical aspects
There is a big trend at the moment with electronic acts moving toward live sets as technology and equipment improves. How do you stand out from the crowd as live musicians?
Jo: I guess the more we’ve gigged, the more relaxed we’ve become, allowing us to concentrate on the performance rather than the technical aspects. There are a lot of electronic artists that are quite static on stage and people seem to react to the fact that we move about and are visibly excited when we play.
You both also have a few side projects you run; would you like to tell us about these?
Joe: Yeah, we’re both in a ‘proper band’ with ‘proper instruments’ called Nugget. The singer, Emily, is an amazing songwriter and lyricist and it’s really refreshing for both of us to play in something so different.
Jo: I’ve got a couple of other things going on – my brother and I have started producing Berlin-influenced techno together as Tendon, and I’m in a neo-classical/post-rock project with a few other Bristol musicians (all will be revealed soon).
Joe: My solo stuff varies from experimental dub to kind of raw techno and acid. I’ve just moved to a new hardware-based setup, which has been a steep learning curve but is giving me a lot more space for improvisation and experimentation.
In your opinion, which other artists are making waves in the Bristol scene?
Joe: There are some really great DJs in Bristol at the moment – Ifeoluwa and Anina are both great, as well as obviously the Timedance and Young Echo lot.
As for live stuff, Scalping – who we booked for our EP release – have been making a name for themselves recently, despite only doing a handful of shows so far. Their live show is a proper experience with amazing live visuals and gnarly feedback.
Finally, for a bit of fun, give us five tunes for five different settings:
Golden Oldie: Gil Scott Heron – B Movie
Best song of 2017: Arca – Piel
Best song to open a night: Peder Mannerfelt – I Love You
Best song to surprise a dancefloor: Peaches – How You Like My Cut (Zíur Remix)
The best tune to soundtrack a skydive: Avalon Emerson – The Frontier
Words by Alex Joseph