Do you remember the moment in Jerry Macguire when he's driving down the highway singing "Free Fallin'"? I'm like Jerry, heroic and pathetic, one foot in manic, elated joy and the other in total, dismal depression.
Body Parts is a musical project that I started in 2009. I write all of the music. Alina Cutrono, S.A. Bach, Matt Sobel, and Ray Proudfoot and myself play it. We live in Los Angeles.
There were many events leading up to the beginning of Body Parts. For one, I began a career as a professional Musical Theater actor when I was 14 in the Sound of Music. I played Frederic. Since then I've had various roles, most notably in a Randy Newman musical, and a musical based on Matthew Sweet's album "Girlfriend". Spending so much time in the theater, I developed a love/hate relationship with over-the-top performance style. On the one hand, I saw how bold artistic choices could create an immediate and undeniable effect on an audience. Yet I found a certain level of emotional sincerity very off-putting and artificial. I would love to be able to say that Musical Theater played no part in the development of Body Parts but for better or worse, it did. Taking cues from the way artists like David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, and Stephen Merrit employ theatricality in their performance style, I ended up arriving at a musical voice that was deeply entrenched in irony, yet at the same time utterly sincere. The theatricality can also be heard easily in the singing style itself, and I gladly cite Stephen Sondheim as a reference point. I employ a wide open harmonic space with much of the harmony being implied and hinted at, rather than directly stated. Other obvious reference points are artists who in the 1980's weren't so subtle with their use of theatricality, like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, and Prince. More contemporary artists we share similarities with might be Tune-Yards, Dirty Projectors, or Of Montreal.
An early seed was planted when I met Matt. We were in the cowboy quartet together in the musical Will Roger's Follies. We tried writing our own musical but never finished it. Since then, Matt and I have been good friends and collaborators. Together we developed a specific taste for uncomfortable situations. We decided that moments of uncertainty for an audience member, in the long run, provide more clarity. He has done most of our artwork and videos up until now. He brings his craft of experimental filmmaking to the Body Parts table.
I met Alina Cutrono at a jam session/party. In addition to Body Parts, she has her own musical project under her own name. She is also a trained dancer and circus sideshow performer. She is member of the all-female troupe, The Sideshow Sirens, in which she eats fire, escapes from a straight-jacket, lies on a bed of nails, and eats bugs.
I met S.A. Bach at a bar in Thai Town and realized that he was my cousin. I hadn't seen him for most of my life because of a family feud. We started playing music together, and our families were reunited, another testament to the "healing power of music". Sebastian has played in numerous bands over the years in many different capacities. He now writes and performs his own music under the name S.A. Bach.
Ray is an electronics whiz-kid with an array of musical talents. We met when he moved to LA from Seattle to get away from the pain of an unrequited love. We took him in and have been slowly nurturing him back to health.
We recorded our most recent project entitled "On Purpose" on Long Island in the summer, 2010. It explores foreground music (as opposed to background), our obsession with irony, and our difficulty with sincerity.