After steadily building a name for themselves around Scotland with their electrifying live shows, Bikini Body are gearing up for their biggest releases to date. There’s a single release on February 9 and the release of their second EP, Weird Party (date tbc), as well as a launch show at The Mash House tomorrow (Feb 9).
The single, ‘Mr Tinnitus’, will be familiar to those who’ve seen Bikini Body in concert (usually as the raucous finale), but it’s been sculpted and refined into its current shape that best captures the infectious energy of the concert version. Though they modestly downplay the influence, frontperson Vicky Kavanagh thinks that “Harry [Volker, multi-instrumentalist] has really upped the disco vibes by bringing in the synth line that has been heard in recent shows.” However, “ the release as a whole is signalling that we’re doing something different, not just another – if there is such a thing – Bikini Body record. It’s a new direction for us.” This is especially evident in the B-side, a dub remix by Joe Ariwa (son of the legendary Mad Professor) which shows a playful, experimental edge to the band.
They’ve been around for a few years now, but where they started out as a lean affair, perhaps obscuring their funky desires with heavy breakdowns, they’ve now blossomed into a dance-ready outfit in the mould of Maximum Joy or Liquid Liquid. Though the “traditional” post-punk tendencies (whatever you want that to mean) haven’t been sidelined, just amplified in service of a more muscular sound that’s equal parts heft and funk.
And speaking of the most famous output of Liquid Liquid, the band are excited to announce that their new single is going to be the inaugural release on a new sub-label from the world-famous Optimo, named Optimo Music Rocks. It may seem an incongruous link-up, even to the band themselves, but as their sound has developed, it may actually be a perfect fit. Vicky explains their influence and how the connection developed:
“I’ve been going to their [Optimo] parties since I was a student (so over 10 years) in various cities around the UK. They pop up in every music book I read. When we thought about a label they weren’t even on our radar because we didn’t think we were a good fit. We were recording with Chris (McCrory) at Green Door Studio and he pointed to a record on the wall by Golden Teacher. He said ‘That’s an Optimo band; you guys should definitely get in touch with them, they’d love you.’ So we thought we might as well reach out. I wrote a super gushing message on their Bandcamp contact form, not thinking anyone would even look at it, and then Keith [McIvor, aka JD Twitch] got back in like 4 or 5 days – the quickest response we had from any label we contacted.
“He said he’d give us a listen, but wasn’t taking on any new music at the time, which was fair enough. Anyway, he got back in touch after listening and said something like “before we proceed, I need to see you live” and we thought “proceed”? Does this mean it’s on? We arranged for him to come to one of our shows and I remember seeing him dead square in the middle of the room. We had a really nice chat afterwards; he liked the show and the deal was sealed I guess.” The barely-concealed delight, even months later, is clear in the band’s demeanour.
From this audition, the wheels were set in motion and now songs recorded by the band in January 2023 are finally seeing the light of day over a year later. Weird Party was produced by Chris McCrory, a mainstay in the Scottish scene having played with Casual Sex and Catholic Action, and with production credits for Walt Disco, Savage Mansion and many more. It cannot be over-egged how much Bikini Body love Chris, as Vicky is eager to state: “Chris is amazing, so much more than a producer: extremely collaborative, intuitive…a consummate professional, an amazing, talented, beautiful man.”
But as well as capturing hearts, he’s also had a big impact on their sound, both in the studio and onstage. Guitarist, Josh Booker, puts it succinctly: “He wants everything to be as good as it possibly can be, and wants to do whatever he can to achieve that.” And a good example is provided by bassist Kyle Peterson: “For ‘Mr. Tinnitus’ we were trying to make the percussion as exciting as possible, and at about 11pm Chris decided he’d get congas for tomorrow[‘s session]. He called up The Joy Hotel I think and showed up the next morning with congas set up.” This close attention to detail is reflected in the technical skills extolled by the band, but also in knowing exactly how to show the band what they’re capable of, something that’s had an influence on their live show. Not to mention, he also pointed the band towards Bob Weston (Shellac), who mastered Weird Party.
Also on the bill tomorrow are Isabella Strange and Eyes of Others, picked specifically by the band, illustrating the close connections they’ve forged with like-minded artists in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Highlighting a close friendship with Water Machine, whom they’ve the stage with numerous times, Vicky sees the community as “such a creative web.” This is reflected in the lineups of recent events like Freakender, The Great Western/Eastern and the Edinburgh edition of Psychfest last year. The band’s preference for their special shows, like Friday’s, “is to play with people we’re pals with, so it’s a nice emotional experience. We also worked with Gloria from Maranta who’s helped organise the unofficial after-party [tomorrow], Microsteria, and who’s also worked with Josh for Chuun (zine/events). It’s a really friendly and collaborative scene.” There’s a warm, familial vibe, reinforced not least by the fact that the Weird Party‘s artwork was even designed by Josh’s brother, Matt Booker, who’s worked on previous merch with the band.
With the songs of the EP soon to be released with the quality production they deserve, after such a long period of fine-tuning, the rest of the year is looking incredibly bright for the band. There are shows and appearances yet to be announced, along with a prime slot at Kelburn Garden Party in July.
‘Mr Tinnitus’ will be out tomorrow (February 9) on Optimo Music Rocks.
Weird Party will be released later in the year, digitally and on 12” vinyl.
Catch the band tomorrow night at The Mash House.