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Body Meat

22 May 2024, 11:30

As Body Meat, visionary Philadelphia producer and musician Chris Taylor is creating rough diamonds from the experimental fringes of music.

It’s in Chris Taylor’s nature to be busy. “This is the culmination of quite literally thousands of hours of work…so I need everyone to know,” he earnestly beams.

Taylor's debut album, Starchris – due this August on Partisan Records – is the recipient of this time. Under the moniker Body Meat, Taylor has created an unsettled sonic palette, spasmodically exploring the intersections of electronic, dance, trap, and a dash of metal. But perhaps the most unsettled thing of all is his productivity.

Currently in a world of his own – literally – Taylor, construction hat donned, is coding his own video game. To coincide with the release of an upcoming new single, he’s building a realm in which players can inhabit the world that first influenced the song. This is Taylor’s new obsession.


"I've never made a game for a piece of music," he tells me. "I’m trying to do it because there are so many things on this album that I wish I would have done differently. I think everyone probably feels that about something they made a long time ago – it’s been almost a year, so it's weird to sit with something that long. Maybe this is my form of elevating it in a way, like I'm different than I was then, so this is what I would do now."

Obsessions have driven Taylor's creativity for as long as he can remember. His first recollection of this phenomenon was when he was younger. Being given drawing pads by his mother, he recalls, "I would draw for hours and hours." Sketching the same thing repeatedly, it was a quest for perfection that Taylor remembers with striking clarity. "I used to draw this one dinosaur for six hours over and over again, and throw away all the old ones that were right,” he tells me. His passion coming forth through mechanically-driven means was a precursor to his future as Body Meat.


"I get influenced a lot by the machines that make things. You have to have this relationship with the computer and the DAW [Digital Audio Workstations– software such as Ableton, Logic Pro, etc] that you're using," he explains. "Everything that you do is going to be influenced by your tools. Nothing can be this pure, brain-to-sound-wave creation. There is an interference, and embracing the interference is where it can get really interesting and you can make some beautiful things. But I can also feel the opposite way sometimes, where I get really mad at the machines that I'm using; I get really frustrated by the fact that I can't just go brain-to-sound," he laughs.

Being surrounded by music at a young age with a pianist mother and a bass-playing father, it was natural for Taylor to enter the musical world. "She always had this Rhodes piano. I remember it being broken, but we used to play with that," he reflects. But with the clan moving around, the piano became a victim of Taylor’s unsettled childhood: "She had got rid of it somehow. We probably needed money," he says chuckling drily. "But music was just always around. It's funny though, because I never really thought I would make music. I didn't feel like I was gonna be good enough."


Finding his way into various outfits, which he explains as more "shredding" bands, he didn’t consider himself on the musical path until 2016 when he began the project that would become Body Meat. With its convulsions of sonics, Taylor’s creativity bends more towards the simplistic. It’s a natural invocation of his creativity rather than an overly complex struggle. It’s a method that came to him after trying to keep up with more seasoned creatives around him. "I realised it wasn't working, trying to keep up," he admits, "and then I made one album where I was like, 'I'm just gonna make something in, like, three days and not worry about what it sounds like. I just need to have the most fun I can possibly have." By taking a tentative step into this new world, he realised, "Oh, I don't have to be 'good'... and I got a bigger reaction for doing that."

Inside of Taylor, there’s a struggle between the creator and the musician. "I don't know if I've ever really felt like a musician," he tells me. "I feel like when you say the word 'musician', you think of someone that can make a song fast, or play something well. I think I may be more on the creator side because I've been so many different things - it's just the audio side of things is a bigger part than the others."

Mostly, he sees himself as pushing a creative boundary which can include his collisions of sound perhaps twinning with proficiency of instruments: "Do I need to be playing all these notes? I just recorded the guitar screeching for three minutes – that's maybe more interesting…sometimes, you just need to shred though," he smirks.

Taylor's metamorphosis into Body Meat came when he started using a MIDI pickup. Instead of a standard guitar pickup, which amplifies the reverberating string, the MIDI converts it for use with synthesisers and other tech. "That was the actual flip for me," he remembers of this pivotal moment "Being like, ‘Oh, using electronic sounds is going to be more fun. It will make me feel like this is a whole new thing for me, especially the type of music I was trying to make’. That was the real flip. And then my friend gave me Ableton…I didn't really know how to use it, I was just using it to record things, and then I started learning more about the programme and actually making computer music, or music with a computer – and that was pretty insane."

With this new obsession in tow, Taylor’s journey found its way through a pair of EPs – 2019's Truck Music and Year of the Orc two years later – alongside a clutch of singles. Each a cataclysmic barrage of sounds, the “trying to outdo the last thing I did,” of it all is in the name of Taylor trying to “optimise how my creative process works.” He explains: “I start a song a certain way and I don't know how I'm gonna end it. And you get to the end of the song, and you're like, 'This is what I've made? Is it good? Is it bad? I'm just gonna keep working on it until it moulds into something.”

There’s a caveat to this level of determination. “I actually need people to know that I don't know what I'm making until, like, the end of it,” Taylor tells me. “There was no part of me that goes into making a song where I know what this song is about, how it's gonna go or how it's gonna end. There has never been a part of it like that. I literally go piece by piece. I make a scratch vocal of words that I think sound good, I try to rhyme real words with those words, and then I try to make sense of those words after the fact. That's the whole thing. It's really fun for me because it is like creating these riddles.”


This is where Starchris comes back into play. His debut – and the thousands of hours dedicated to its perfection – is a small part of Taylor’s wider journey. He’s invariably someone who’s found motion with his art but readily admits that “I’m really bad at promoting myself, and telling people what's going on.”

It’s Taylor's tendency to get obsessed with angles and methodology which he sees as inhibiting himself. “When I get obsessed with something, I feel like I forget about the other layers of it,” he says. “Like, if you want this to be like a quote-unquote career, you have to let people know what's going on.” His unfocused nature is perhaps his most earnest trait. He nods that being able to preach about his projects has “never been the joy for me.”

He currently balances Body Meat whilst also being a line cook, but it’s in his familial nature to walk this tightrope. “I come from a long line of people where I'm just trying to make stuff that makes me happy. And I know that it's hard to make a career out of that, but those are the types of artists I've always really loved.” Though he does admit there’s an attraction to this way of being: “Maybe it's a little bit of that, where they just stay hide in the shadows and make things that like blow people's minds like ten years later.”

Whatever his next endeavour winds up being, the core of it will always be Taylor. “You just have to try shit that you don't know how it’s gonna work… and most of the time, it doesn't work,” he laughs. “I think maybe that's the thing people forget. If you're calling something experimental…sometimes it just doesn't work. The experiment has failed, but failure is a necessary part of the experiment. Sometimes it really works and you really want to follow that a little bit and see what that's doing.” But, as with a creative mind like Chris Taylor’s, peace isn’t found in completion. “You sometimes find out when something does work, that it was kind of boring… you want to go back the other side.”

Starchris is released on 23 August via Partisan Records

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