By Mia Glanz
VANCOUVER – “I am not a cinephile!” shouts Bodega on the short but sweaty punk track off their debut LP, Endless Scroll. Its love-hate since both Nikki Belfiglio and Ben Hozie, the front liners and vocalists of Bodega, are actually filmmakers. This paradox is not the only conceptual mind-bend on the album. Take the riff of their pop-rock single, “How Did This Happen!?,” when they proclaim “Everyone is equally a master and a slave!”
It’s this combination of musical spunk and thoughtfulness that drives the band’s writing and sound. There’s Belfiglio and Hozie, along with guitarist Madison Velding VanDam, drummer Montana Simone and bassist Heather Elle. “The rule of Bodega is whoever wrote the lyrics sings it,” says Hozie. “A lot of our songs are really short and that’s on purpose. We want things to be razor sharp and straight to the point.”
This process is important when dealing with heavier questions. The music of Bodega is wrapped up with concerns about how to live ethically, how to be sensitive and open-minded in music and life. Ethics, for Hozie, in the sense of Aristotle, questioning constantly how to best live one’s life.
He likes to use “art rock” to describe what Bodega is all about, because the term allows for “rock and roll music that has a conceptual side to it, and a visual side to it and a more thoughtful side to it.” Vague enough to encompass Bodega’s energetic punk tracks along with the sweeter, slower songs that aren’t really punk at all. For Hozie, ’70s Brit rock and post-punk has been a huge influence “because it was the moment when I realized music could be as aggressive and energetic as punk rock while having an intellectual, conceptual side to it.” If you listen closely, on Belfiglio’s parts there’s a love of Madonna era dance music that also influences their sound.
“Our music could not have existed in the early ’70s, 2000’s; it just would not feel the same,” Hozie says.
Bodega is fully of now, there’s no nostalgia, but rather awareness of what’s come before. He explains, “We try to write music that addresses where bands exist in the world, on social media and on the internet.” This means they relate to the “feminine aspects of where rock music is going” being a majority female band as part of the increasingly female indie scene. Social media? It’s complicated. They treat the phrases they type on Twitter as if they were song lyrics, while knowing how cheap those words then become.
The band’s not only thoughtful. Bodega gets off on performing. They’re not one of those bands that are going to sound the same every time, or exactly like they do on the album. Anything from a “mild, meditative show” to “a train going off the rails” can happen, depending on the audience.
“Were kinda like a mirror. However the audience is, we throw it back at you,” says Hozie. “The goal is to get people in their bodies, moving around losing themselves in the hypnosis of the beat.”
And that’s what you can expect from Bodega, they get you thinking, and moving too.
Bodega perform at the Fox Cabaret (Vancouver) on August 14.bodega, Fox Cabaret