Origins is our recurring new music feature that lets an artist or band explore some of the inspirations behind their latest song.
Sometimes a name is just cool — your Daft Punks, your Sex Pistols, your A Tribe Called Quests. Sometimes, it’s accurate (see: The Band). Con Brio is both. The raucous San Francisco septet takes its name from a musical notation. It translates from Italian to “with spirit,” and Con Brio’s particular blend of soul, R&B, and psych-rock certainly has plenty of spirit. That spirit can arrive like a cymbal crash, a rallying cry as likely to start a party as spur listeners to positive action, or it can be an energy that arrives on little cat feet, as soft as the ever-present fog for which the band’s city is so famous.
“Con brio” is an accurate way to characterize frontman Ziek McCarter’s delivery, too. Even on a slow burning track like “Body Language”, the latest single from their forthcoming Explorer, McCarter sings with what can only be described as gusto. It’s the kind of voice that seems to come from the base of the spine, the bend of the knees, even the bottom of the feet — and that’s true whether the voice that emerges is a croon or a clamor.
On “Body Language”, it’s a bit of both. Take a listen to below, and look out for when Explorer arrives on July 6th.
Speaking further to Consequence of Sound, McCarter offered some insight on how “Body Language” came to be, with influences ranging from Frank Ocean to a night on the James River.
Homecoming show at Outside Lands 2016:
This song takes me back to returning home after months of touring around the world to play San Francisco’s high profile festival Outside Lands. We’d been away from home for months, circling the globe, playing shows and major festivals all over the world (Bonnaroo, North Sea Jazz, Fuji Rock, Lollapalooza, etc.) and this set in front of our hometown crowd felt like such a victory lap for all of us. Also extremely rewarding was finally having some quality time at home with our ladies, and then having them side-stage, cheering us on so proudly. One night while we were home, just before this festival, I felt inspired by all the love that overflowed leading up to that moment. The first verse, pre-chorus, and chorus struck me, and flowed out most naturally of all the albums lyrics: “I wanna take my time, cause I ain’t seen you in a while and I can see in your eyes, you know: Can’t nobody love you like I do… I know I’ve been in and out of town…” We’d seen and heard many languages spoken all around the world, but physical touch was the love language appreciated most at that time.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman:
Not too long ago I was introduced to Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages. He introduces the concept that Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch are the five fundamental languages of love, and that each person has a primary and secondary way of expressing love, whether romantically or platonically. Though I didn’t complete the book in its entirety, it didn’t take me long to realize that Acts of Service and Physical Touch were the two I connected with the most. And “Body Language” snuggles perfectly in between the two of those.
Frank Ocean — Blonde:
This album is a timeless classic. It was on repeat for us all when we returned home in the fall 2016. Alternative R&B/Hip-Hop/Trap/Indie Rock all sonically blend together so beautifully to illuminate some of the universal emotions we experience. The orchestration, drum programming, synthesizers, potent lyrics, and layering of it all with his raw and vulnerable performance impacted and inspired us creatively that fall. We began to explore the parameters of our sound in a new way through “Body Language” from that point. Connecting our organic sound with new, layered elements like 808 drums, hi hats, samples, etc. PatMan (keyboardist) also really helped expand our sonic landscape in “Body Language”. Some faves off that album are “Nights” and “Self Control”. The “Self Control” vocal outro in particular inspired me when approaching the “Body Language” outro vocally. “Nights” we still play on many occasions as a band fave. That song just gets better and better until the very end — it’s sooo dope.
Musically, the song started with a keyboard chord progression from PatMan. We had a day off on tour in Virginia and caught up on some rest and silence. We stayed at Kirch’s parents’ house in a quiet corner of Virginia backing up to the James River, and we all kinda split up and had our own days, which is hard to come by on tour. After dinner that night, we set up in the living room and looped the verse progression hypnotically for about 25 minutes at one point, really digging into the crevices of the groove while Marcus and BLiu riffed on the alluring hornline heard in the post-chorus. This time off in Virginia really gave us something special.
“Body Language” Artwork: