Interview: Body Void

Atrocity Machine was basically meant to be a horror movie soundtrack for late stage capitalism.

Body Void will return shortly with their incredible new album Atrocity Machine which sees the band add even more elements to their formidable sonic assault, and the whole album is a suitably intense and rewarding listening experience. Ahead of the albums release, Gavin Brown caught up with Body Void’s Willow Ryan (who plays guitar, bass, synths and does vocals) to talk all things Body Void, Atrocity Machine and its themes and sound and their other band Hellish Form.

E&D: Your new album Atrocity Machine is out soon. How did the making of the album go and are you excited to be getting it out?

Willow: It went really well. Very excited. Lots of collaborative effort went into this one. We couldn’t be happier.

E&D: Did you want to add even more electronic elements like the synths and samples that are layered to bolster your sound even greater this time around?

Willow: That was the main goal for sure.

E&D: Did you also want to make an even bleaker album than Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth this time around?

Willow: I think Atrocity Machine became its own thing. It’s really hard for me to compare them at this point. Though I don’t think we’ve done a bleaker song than the title track.

E&D: Do you think that Body Void provides a soundtrack to an even more hostile earth?

Willow: Atrocity Machine was basically meant to be a horror movie soundtrack for late stage capitalism.

E&D: Do you find that making and playing the music of Body Void to be a cathartic experience?

Willow: It’s definitely a place for feelings that don’t have an outlet otherwise.

E&D: What have been the biggest influences on the sound and outlook of Atrocity Machine?

Willow: Our base influences like Indian, Primitive Man, and Khanate are still a part of it, but we looked to dissonant electronic music and industrial like Pharmakon, Wolf Eyes, and Controlled Bleeding for inspiration on that side of things. Movies are always a big influence too. Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Akira, and Paul Verhoeven are stuff I would point to for this album. As well as authors like William Gibson, Philip K Dick, and Kurt Vonnegut. Not to mention just people in my life who are super invested in prison and police abolition who I’m constantly learning from.

E&D: The subject of police violence is prominent throughout Atrocity Machine especially on the album track ‘Cop Show’. Did you feel it was important to highlight this issue with your music?

Willow: Yeah, I think in a lot of ways it’s a core issue–if not the core issue–of the systemic oppression that plagues American life. Every systemic facet is tied to police and the carceral system and how they maintain the status quo in this country. But ‘Cop Show’ in particular is about how Americans treat police violence as entertainment.  

 

E&D: Have you had many negative dealings with police in the past?

Willow: Most of my run-ins with police have been while on tour with this band, actually. The most egregious example was when we were detained by police in South Dakota and one of us was arrested. Thankfully nothing major happened and we were able to put up bail and make the show that night. That said, I think it’s important for Americans to think about their interactions with police because the majority of people just don’t have experience with the criminal justice system and their views on the police are informed by what they see on fictional tv shows. The police legally don’t have to protect us and their job isn’t to stop or solve crime, so it’s important to examine the role they actually have in our society.

E&D: What other subjects do you deal with on Atrocity Machine?

Willow: I’d say the main theme of Atrocity Machine is how we internalise capitalism and how it dehumanises us, hence the cyberpunk imagery. ‘Human Greenhouse’ covers how that has played out on the internet and with social media. ‘Flesh Market’ tackles how it reduces us purely to beings from whom labour can be extracted as cheaply as possible.

E&D: Have you been pleased with the reaction to the music you’ve released from this album so far?

Willow: Definitely.

E&D: Can you tell us about the album artwork for Atrocity Machine?

Willow: Ethan Lee McCarthy did a lot of American dystopian themed propaganda posters, especially during the pandemic, which was what made us want to work with him for the art on this album. Tetsuo: The Iron Man was the main inspiration for the visual, but we wanted to include a lot of American iconography that fit the theme of the album.

E&D: How was the Burn The Homes Of Those Who Seek To Control Our Bodies EP that you released last year received?

Willow: Really well. It was kind of a sleeper hit for us.

E&D: Are you looking forward to playing your forthcoming live shows with Uniform and your own headline dates and will you be playing new material at these shows?

Willow: Very excited. It’ll be our first time out as a four piece. Yeah, we’ll be playing most of the new album for those.

E&D: How did your live shows over the summer go and what were some of the highlights?

Willow: Getting to see ZAO ten nights in a row was awesome. Everyone on that tour (ZAO, Mouth For War, and Godcollider) was extremely nice and easy to hang out with. Seattle and Bend, OR really showed up to party so that was super fun.

E&D: How was the experience of playing Roadburn and your European shows earlier in the year?

Willow: Roadburn was unlike anything we’ve ever done and a complete surprise. Playing in front of two thousand people was surreal to say the least.

E&D: Will you be making it back over to the UK and Europe next year?

Willow: That’s the plan. Hopefully we’ll have news about that soon.

E&D: What have been the most memorable live shows that Body Void have ever played?

Willow: Selling out London right before the pandemic while we were all sick and delirious with that pre-covid bug everyone had in late 2019/early 2020 was pretty wild. But honestly nothing comes close to Roadburn.

E&D: What live shows have been some of the best that you have ever witnessed?

Willow: Yob is probably the best live band I’ve ever seen. I’ve probably seen Primitive Man the most, having toured with them so much and they’re never not the heaviest thing ever.

E&D: What music are you listening to the most currently?

Willow: Some amazing new heavy albums just came out: KEN mode, Gridlink, Tomb Mold, and Sprain. For non metal stuff I really like the new Victoria Monet, Julia Byrne, Fever Ray, and Yeule albums. But I’ve also been listening to a lot of Neil Young lately.

E&D: How has the Deathless album from your other band Hellish Form been received?

Willow: Really well. It’s harder to parse since we self-released it but everyone who’s listened to it has been extremely positive.

E&D: Have you got plans for more Hellish Form material at all?

Willow: Jacob (Lee) is actually joining the live edition of Body Void, so that’s kinda where our focus is at the moment, but I think we’ll definitely return to it eventually.

E&D: Do you find it a challenge playing in multiple bands?

Willow: Not really, they have such different processes that it’s easy to keep them separated. If Hellish Form ever becomes a touring band (which I would love) then I think it’ll be a little more challenging.

Photo by Skyeler Williams

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