Columbus band Body Farm wants to wake listeners up to harsh modern realities

Andy Downing
Body Farm

Growing up in California, Body Farm singer Ocean-Breeze Kudla didn’t have to contend with things like winter or the politics of living within a swing state, both of which had a palpable effect on her mental health after the musician relocated to Pickerington with husband/bandmate Erek Kudla nearly four years ago.

“It was such a culture shock coming from California to the Midwest,” said Ocean, who joins Erek and fellow Body Farm bandmates Steven Bujdoso and Alex Emert at Used Kids on Friday, Jan. 10, for a concert celebrating the release of the group’s brief, brutal debut recording. “My mental headspace when we first formed the band, to be honest, wasn’t great, so I’m glad I had this outlet. I was fighting seasonal affective disorder, which was something I’d never experienced. … And I remember living in a swing state during the election and having Trump come into office, which was a huge hit to me in more ways than one, because I wasn’t just thinking about myself. I was thinking about all of my friends and family who are a part of alternative cultures and lifestyles, and how this election would affect them. … Hearing the manic, grinding music these guys were making, it was like, ‘Oh, this is the perfect time to get this out and continue that conversation with people.’”

Body Farm approaches these conversations with admirable urgency, the music practically grabbing listeners by the shoulders, desperate to wake them to the gathering storm clouds. Owing to both genre conventions (Ocean noted that power violence songs are notoriously short) and the influence of living in a time when attention spans are greatly abbreviated (“A lot of people just read the headlines … and not the actual article,” the singer said), Body Farm songs rarely linger, with most clocking in at under a minute.

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The Orwellian “1984” addresses the threat of totalitarian rule in a violent, 26-second eruption, while “Screen Life” manages to touch on the ills of social media and the importance of supporting sex worker’s rights while holding to a 51-second run time. Then there’s “June,” practically an epic at 1:42, which incorporates snippets of an interview with President Trump and confronts the rapid loss of reproductive rights under the current administration. “You have no control!” Ocean seethes atop sludgy, abrasive guitars.

“We’re definitely political … and those messages are not just on our album, but are also on our social media presence. We very purposefully support certain local organizations who have a truly great vision of what our world should be,” Ocean said. “We support harm reduction. We work with organizations like BQIC (Black, Queer & Intersectional Collective), the Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood and UnHarming Ohio.”

It’s this activist community that has given the members of Body Farm hope amid the current turmoil, which, while not necessarily prevalent in the music, is instrumental in maintaining a drive to create.

“It’s very important we look for hope in times like these, and that people are not afraid to speak up, and to speak up for those who might have been silenced,” Ocean said. “That’s how I’ve survived the last four years, and that’s what makes me feel like I can keep on going.”

While Ocean had played in bands prior to Body Farm, this is the first time the musician has taken on a lead role, having previously played drums or contributed backing vocals. In approaching vocals, the singer incorporates elements of everything from the punk music to which she grew up listening to the spoken word cadences deployed by the performers in Button Poetry videos.

“I’ve never been a singer in a punk band. This is my first time doing this, so it’s definitely been an experience for me,” Ocean said. “I’m not always the type of person who seeks out attention, but [my bandmates] saw this as an opportunity to be that person. It still makes me anxious because I’m an anxious person, in general. But it also feels really good to finish a set and have another person come up to me and be like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I can’t believe this just happened and this is something you just did.’ And I’ll say back to them, ‘I couldn’t have imagined doing this a year ago, either.’ This whole project … is pushing me in a really positive way.”

Used Kids Records

6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10

2500 Summit St., North Campus

Body Farm album release show