For Richmond gothic punk quintet True Body, expressing themselves through music helps them find true freedom amid a repressive cultural environment.
True Body in its truest form has no body at all. Aside from the bodies of five musicians and their instruments, the body of the music is formless, taking the shape of fog within the minds of those who listen. Their first album, to be released later this spring, has already boasted two singles, “Spirit City” and “Television,” the second of which comes out today. Each will carry you away on dreamy synth and low rumbling lyrics.
“Our music sits in a realm of rebellious back and forth energy with the world around us,” said Hector Castro, True Body’s rhythm guitarist. “It could come off very surreal and beautiful-sounding with ambient tones, but at the end of the day we still have to reconcile with ourselves this longtime line of underground music being a subculture for the underrepresented and alienated people of the society that we live in.”
In addition to Castro, Richmond quintet True Body is made up of vocalist Isabel Moreno-Riaño, lead guitarist Kevin Painter, synth and bass player Camille Byrum, and drummer Sam Ramos. Longing to find their place in the world and a shot at stability, these best friends have put together years of work to make their first album, Heavenly Rhythms for the Uninitiated.
“This album is the culmination of five years of extremely hard work, a lot of highs and lows, times where we felt like no one cared and that it was for nothing, and all these beautiful things we’ve gotten to experience with each other — not even in the band, but just outside of it, being best friends,” said Moreno-Riaño. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The album will be out on April 3rd from The Funeral Party, but in the meantime you can check out brand new single “Television,” which comes out today, above.
Previous single “Spirit City” happens to be the band’s first official music video.
“It was much more pleasant experience than we thought that it would be [to film the music video]. A lot of that came from showing these people that would be involved in the making of the video what living in the city was actually like for us,” said Moreno-Riaño. “It was like seeing Richmond from new eyes, because these people had never really been here and never experienced the things that we have. We wanted to pull people through our experience in a really simple way.”
As April comes to pass, the band is most looking forward to playing songs from the upcoming album, such as “First Thing” and “Youth Hotel.” These songs feature slower, more ambient melodies and instrumentals that, while nerve wracking to get right in performance, will create such delicious moments.
“We’re really excited to start trying to flesh out some of these songs that we haven’t gotten a chance to perform live yet,” said Byrum.
“‘First Thing’ on that album is one we still haven’t played live yet, just because it’s daunting to play that song with how slow and exposed it is, and trying to tackle these songs that are a little more challenging in a live setting,” Castro replied.
However, as “Television” approaches release, their attitudes are focused outward, on experiencing everything as it comes, expectation free.
“The important thing is that we are making something we believe in, something that is true and we’re putting it out there,” said Moreno-Riaño. “We’re interested in holding our breath, waiting for it to play out beyond us.”
All of these unbound hopes and dreamy songs come together at the point of Moreno-Riaño’s vocals, which create a foundation for the music to cascade off of. In notes that rumble like thunder and lyrics that pass over like rain, the vocals bring everything the music offers back to a natural and delicately chaotic form.
“I didn’t even try and think about trying to sing in a low register until I encountered a lot of music that became really important to me, like old country music or Don Gibson,” said Moreno-Riaño. “Even Joy Division was a big thing for me growing up, because those people were not necessarily hitting the notes that you would be expected to, but they were singing from a place that’s real, and that they believed in.”
When listening, it’s so easy to get lost in the music itself, in the synth, keyboard, and lulling guitar. There is so much more to the meaning of the lyrics and the content itself that will take a practiced ear to tease out. The album’s delightfully occult title encourages the freedom that can be found within.
“When we were writing music it felt like it was beyond us in a way,” said Byrum. “The reason why the name is vague and esoteric has more to do with how it feels to be in the presence of something you don’t necessarily understand but that you would like to be a part of. It’s not about the lines necessarily, it’s about the disillusion of those things.”
“It is entirely about freedom and the antithesis of pretension or any sort of oppression,” said Moreno-Riaño.
“We may not come off inherently political, but we stood in a position where the personal is the political for us. We’re very much, in our own lives, living in a space where our individuality, within the current state of affairs in this country, is shaping us continuously,” said Castro. “The only way we can survive for ourselves is because we make music together. It’s become a vessel for our own freedom.”
To find information on upcoming shows and releases, you can find True Body on their Bandcamp, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Heavenly Rhythms for the Uninitiated is currently available for pre-order from The Funeral Party. This dreamy gothic experience will be well worth the wait.
Top Photo by Travis Waddell, courtesy True Body