“I really can’t stop, for my own good. There is, and always will be more to be made.”
James Kristofik is an incredibly ambitious guy, almost to a fault. His dinky ‘psycho-swagger’ jams under his Body Cheetah guise have a peculiar charm, finding themselves locked somewhere in a Lynchian dreamscape that could only have come from his own mind despite claiming that he loves David Lynch ‘more than soft boxer-briefs’. “I like to make things that don’t exist, it was definitely trial and error. And a lot of failure. I’ve always heard these sounds in my head that even I haven’t heard externally. And it’s frustrating, because sometimes they may seem impossible to articulate in the real world. But what I’ve come to realise is that if I think about them enough, and plan and scheme them enough, I can make them real. And the exciting part is that they will always be insatiable. Once I get this one sound down, another harder one takes its place.”
His lust for creating something truly original is apparent in every facet of his music, particularly when it comes to his record label and collective, ‘Woozy Tribe’. Putting out releases that range from outsider hip-hop, avant-garde electronics, all the way to lo-fi folk drenched in foreboding mystique – there’s no limit to what Woozy Tribe put out.
When asked how the process of heading a label had treated him, he explained: “It’s been a huge learning experience; it’s been a lot of heartache and hard work, but it’s also opened up a lot of doors into meeting some really great people. I think the hardest part about Woozy Tribe for me is trying to explain it to people. It’s awful that a bunch of small net labels started screwing their artists over, giving net labels a bad name; but we don’t really see ourselves as a label. I like to think of it as an archive of a few talented people, like a little nook in history.”
This refusal to settle also manifests in his own music, whether it be in his collaborative project ‘Cemetery Family Band’ or his record under his own name; it’s never clear where he’s heading next. He remains hopeful that he’ll continue to collaborate with rappers again in the future, referring to his collaboration with On-Task member Ahyve, ‘Purdy’. ” I’d really like for more rappers to hit me up. I would reach out myself, but I’m horrible at pulling teeth. The best part about that song ‘Purdy’ I did with Ahyve was that I sent him a false beat. The beat he’s rapping over isn’t the one I sent him. I just wanted his vocals, and I didn’t want to send him something with that much swing.”
Despite his ever-changing sonic palette, he’s definitely not tight-lipped about his upcoming projects. “I’m extremely excited about the next Body Cheetah release, ‘The Dead That Dance’. The concept behind it came from the album title itself. It’s a tongue twister, if you say it five times really fast it turns into gibberish” he enthusiastically explains. “So, ‘The Dead That Dance’ is all about something turning into nothing, like our lives: It’s a celebration of being alive and dead at the same time. And after all of my previous releases I’ve now finally been able to execute this concept rhythmically and lyrically.”
From his debut ‘Blonde Bitches Ain’t Free’, to ‘Sluts Talk About Heaven’ and his most recent full-length as Body Cheetah, ‘Ten Thousand Thunders’, his sound has evolved, whilst remaining very much his own. He has an awful lot to say regarding originality, elaborating: ” I really dislike people ripping from direct media, though. I think people who try to sound like someone else intentionally are a bit delusional. They want what someone else has, whether that be fame, fans, love or money. Not that we aren’t all susceptible to that train of thought. I just think what they should have is have faith and confidence in themselves, in their own creations. Jealousy will kill you.”
He added: “But re-using concepts and undertones is necessary, for anything, as long as those concepts are filtered and on the other end comes out something original. Picture a red bowling ball. You can either be that red bowling ball, just like that red bowling ball, or you can be the colour red. But instead of red, be a different shade of red. Or fuck it, be purple. And if that isn’t enough for you then be the letter C in the word Colour.”
James is quite easily, one of the most undeniably talented musicians drifting around the murkier depths of Bandcamp. He and his Woozy Tribe are quietly leading a new movement, creating sounds thought impossible. If there’s common theme between all that James touches, it’s that it’s subtly innovative, wildly exciting and frighteningly original.
Words by Joe Price