Superorganism on Their Self-Titled Debut Album

Living Online

Jun 20, 2018 Photography by Jordan Hughes Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett
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On record, Orono Noguchi sounds so nonchalant that she almost seems bored of being in a band. In person, she's nothing like that. We're speaking in the middle of Superorganism's first European tour and a packed day for Orono, the band's lead singer, which has included a morning recording session, but she's still animated and engaging. She assures me it isn't always like this. "It depends, I'm actually kinda sad but when I'm doing an interview by myself, I have to do the job by myself so I get more motivated and excited" she tells me. "When I'm feeling like shit and I'm with [bandmates] Emily and Harry, I will not say a word at all. I wouldn't even be looking at you. I'm very moody, that's what I'm trying to say."

Moody might be taking it a little far but there's definitely a sense of melancholy to her work that cuts through the positivity of Superorganism's combination of indie, R&B, and psych-pop. The band formed as an Internet project, by chatting on forums and sending song clips and memes over email. "It's really hard to imagine life without the Internet, without being able to immediately find people that are on the same wavelength as you. We wouldn't have even met without it," Orono says.

That's because Superorganism is an international band, with members hailing from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and England. Orono was studying in Maine when she met four members of the group (Harry, Emily, Tucan, and Robert Strange) during a 2015 trip to Japan, her country of origin. After she saw their band The Eversons perform, the five of them became friends. The group later added two New Zealand singers to the band, Ruby and B, and South Korean background vocalist Soul. (The members mainly just go by their first names.) Now, the band members (excluding Soul who lives in Australia) reside together in a house in East London which acts as their own version of the classic pop music hit factories.

The environment has led to a prolific work rate that isn't really shown on their 10-track self-titled debut. "When we finished the record, we ended up with way more songs than we needed so we were talking about ways to make the record feel more concise and more approachable for new audiences," Orono says. "We agree that we have quite an overwhelming sound so it would be a bit of a torture session to expose the audience to an hour of Superorganism."

The result is one of the most fun albums of 2018 so far; one that balances sharp lyrics with bouncy synth-pop hooks, moving from observations on fame and mental health to surreal references to self-help guru Tony Robbins and warmongering prawns. One song that stands-out lyrically is the album's single "Everybody Wants to Be Famous." It's not the first song to take on the way the Internet supercharges people's desire for fame but it takes a more sympathetic view than most criticisms. "It's nothing new that people want to be famous. You want to be known for something unique about yourself, like you might be really good at baking apple pies or being the class clown or being a fucking asshole," Orono says. "We're not necessarily saying, 'Oh look at this! People are doing anything for the clicks these days!' Because we're totally aware that we're being hypocritical with all this promo we're doing."

As weird as Superorganism can be, there is a clear sense that this is a pop group at its heart. At no point is that clearer than with the band's live shows, which attempt to recreate the showmanship and extravagance of major pop concerts on an indie budget. "We're so obsessed with the Katy Perry Teenage Dream tour and all her shows during that time. It's such an out-of-this-world experience to be at a crazy gig like that," Orono says. "If we had the budget, we'd have lots of inflatable whales, explosions, confetti canons500 hundred of thembubble machines. We want everything." Superorganism want to make music that you can escape into and right now we could do with a little bit more of that. 

 [Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Spring 2018 Issue (March/April/May 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.wearesuperorganism.com

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