Read a wonderfully in-depth track by track for SAATSUMA's new album, Overflow
The Melbourne two-piece go on a deep dive into their excellent debut record.
Music in our current digital landscape can feel quite disposable at times - there's just so damn much of it. But that isn't to say the artists releasing music aren't putting their blood, sweat and tears into every single release, which is why we love running track by track analyses of artist albums. And we particularly love it when an artist really takes time to offer a fully in-depth description of their works. Sure it's nice to just listen to release, and Melbourne duo SAATSUMA's debut album Overflow is fantastic for just that, but it can be nice to deep dive into a record and find out some personal things about their music you might not be able to learn yourself.
And so we're really grateful to be able to share the following track by track from Memphis LK and Cesar Rodriguez, discussing Overflow's tracks in wonderful depth. It's a beautiful album, one that rewards repeat listens along with increased knowledge of how it came to be. You can do both below, and then celebrate its release with them on September 23 at Northcote Social Club (info HERE).
Memphis: We chose the title OVERFLOW because we felt it was all-encompassing of the album as a whole - just a big vessel filled to the brim with our love, thoughts and emotions :’) I also like that it continues the recurring theme of water, following on from the two early singles Storm and Floating. Water has always been present in my songwriting - it’s an element I am constantly drawn back to. There are a few other common themes throughout the album. Our connection to and interaction with the natural environment. The fragility and fluctuation of relationships. The often selfish, self-centred and contradictory nature of being human. Our tendency to withdraw from confronting situations, ultimately losing ourselves in the process, and the overwhelm of anxiety that we experience as a result of this.
It’s difficult to even put in to words how important these songs are to me, and the idea that we’ve just created an album - the first album I’ve ever written - is actually the must unbelievably incredible feeling. The album process has been an incredible learning experience. Both our writing and production skills have improved immensely and coming from a far more considered, poised and deeper place than ever before. I feel like everything we’ve created, particularly in the past six months, are the truest, most honest representations of ourselves. These songs are us.
Cesar: Listening to the record as I write this, the first thing that comes to mind is the pride that I have in what Memphis and I have created. It’s the first time I have felt completely immersed in a sound and for it to reflect my vision. In the past I have either been a hired gun or in bands where my role was specifically defined as either guitar player, manager or producer. SAATSUMA is the first time I feel holistically involved from start to finish. I think for both Memphis and I the whole Saatsuma thing has been a very new and enlightening experience. It’s been a very smooth collaborative process and I have been surprised at how effective we are when we write and produce together. Our processes are fast and acute. We both know what we like and don’t like and have a mutual trust and respect for each other's opinions and decisions that helps keep the ball rolling. The music that has come out has been effortless and one of the most honest things I have been involved in. I have so much pride and belief in what we have done.
Feel It All
M: The second song SAATSUMA ever wrote. It’s about coming down after taking drugs, like a sweet comforting lullaby to sing to oneself. Reflects the ups and downs of life; how good cannot exist without bad, highs without lows, lightness without darkness. That it’s okay and important to feel all of these things. Even if it feels unbearable at the time, the darkness will pass.
C: The intro really sets the tone of the album and alludes to the intense and complexity of what we are trying to do. It is a piece where the studio fires on all engines, all the synths and production building to climax before setting up Feel It All. Feel It All is one of the first tracks we wrote with Joel. It is still a favourite and one of the strongest songs on the album. It is reserved and takes its time with slow moving chords and simmering synths before launching into a climax that restates the intro. For me both the Intro and Feel It All are summations of our intentions as writers and producers as well as performers.
M: Isolate explores the destructive nature of complacency, and the notion that disengaging from the issues around us will only lead to further decline. All the signs are right in front of us but we choose to ignore them because it’s the easy way out. Detachment allows us to avoid responsibility. Ignorance is bliss. Society is fkd. We’re in constant denial of the deterioration of the world around us. The idea that you only truly realise and appreciate what you have until it’s too late. A dual meaning can also be interpreted here in a more personal way i.e. taking a person/relationship for granted and only realising how important they are once they’re gone.
C: I listened to this song again after not listening to it for a while ('cause we spent so much time with it) and was impressed by what it communicates and how it is structured. It’s a double edged sword: It explores about our resistance as humans to embrace our natural environment, but instead we see ourselves above it and exploit it to serve superficial needs. It’s also an introspective analysis of how we embrace ourselves and those around us.
M: This was one of the earlier songs we wrote too but it’s been completely re-invented since then. 'Cause how good are trap hats rite??? This song used to be titled ‘Insanity’, with an outro featuring a melodic guitar hook and lyrics reflecting how unhealthy relationships can make you go a little insane and twisted. The song still stays true to that dark intention, but now has an added element of vulnerability in the new outro. It reflects the fear many of us have of being alone; that we will often stay in something based on ease and comfort even if we’re unhappy, ultimately losing our sense of selves as a result.
C: This again is an older track. I feel this to be a song that truly represents the earlier sound of SAATSUMA. We didn’t really know where we were headed, it’s brooding and borrows from older styles like trip hop and straight hip hop. I love the way Memphis’ vox float across this track.
M: The undeniable energy of the moon and its effect on our emotions and behaviours. Our deep connection to the land that we’re often so unaware of. Basically a demonstration of the fact that we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do, and are often reluctant to acknowledge our truest, most open and honest selves. We’re often so resistant to work on and better ourselves, that we ultimately miss out on exploring this deeper sense of belonging, wholeness and true self-awareness.
C: I love this track! It came together so quickly and was one of the last songs we wrote.This is a track that really represents the new and future SAATSUMA. We have come a long way as writers and producers and this is a showcase of this.
M: The notion of passionately wanting something that you can’t have. As the song progresses, the person loses hope and the reality of not getting what they desire sets in. I also found Dyllan’s interpretation interesting, relating the lyrics more to a sense of self. Wanting to change or let go of a part of yourself but struggling to find the strength to do so. “How can we be free of our conscious self? What does it mean to change? When every part of you wants to leave but some part wants to Stay.”
C: I remember Mem putting this beat and vocals down as a simple idea and was like “WOW THIS IS AWESOME!” In the studio I put the bass line down underneath and it seemed to work amazingly well and we with got to work creating the layers and structures of the song.
M: Explores the sense of losing control, like you’re drowning and unable to see a way out. The notion that often things can seem so unbelievably out of your control and impossible to manage, so our ultimate instinct in dealing with this is to retract and withdraw. A similar theme to isolate, in the sense that our reaction to and difficult situations causes us to close off as a defence mechanism, and we’re all too afraid to face up to our fears and deal with our problems. Our lives become empty and meaningless, but we feel safe this way.
The lyrics contain water imagery, in particular swimming pools. I like the idea that a pool is a controlled environment, a strong structured vessel with organised tiles and lanes and rules and regulation. I like the juxtaposition between this and the uncontrollable nature of fear. The act of swimming, for me, is incredibly calming and meditative. One stroke after the other, breathing evenly and slowly. No one to worry about but yourself, everyone stays in their own lane, repetition of movement, no connection to the outside world. A pool is basically just a big vessel of solitude.
C: I really love this song… This is the strongest on the album in terms of lyrics and writing. This also started with a Memphis beat with the vocal samples. I put some chords and hooks down and went to play soccer and came back and Memphis had laid this vocal down. I was blown away… This song really gets in deep when I hear it. It’s haunting and dark but somehow shows promise.
M: An exploration of mental health, in particular anxiety and depression. This song explores the idea that our perception of reality can become warped and distorted when experiencing periods of these debilitating emotions. Anxiety is all-consuming; it affects all senses - sound, sight, taste, touch, smell. These different sensations are referenced throughout the lyrics as well as within the production, with the use of warped and manipulated samples to create tension. The tone of the track starts out creepy, eerie, dark. As we build up towards the end there’s a sense of hope, a lightness, an acceptance, a resolve.
“Still I feel it might be on my side.” - Once you find the ability to accept these emotions for what they are and stop trying to control them, that’s when you’re free. Once you’re able to identify it, it becomes less consuming, less scary; it becomes controllable and manageable. You realise what it has taught you about yourself, about the world, how it doesn’t define or control you anymore but you learn from it, and you’re almost thankful for it.
C: I FUCKING LOVE THIS SONG! The outro is one of the production highlights on the album. The angular nature of the intro gives it a haunting and odd vibe and Mem’s vocals navigate the empty house brilliantly. This is juxtaposed by an intent and energetic outro with lots of forward motion. Having read Memphis’ words about this song I totally relate. I have bouts of crippling anxiety where I can not leave my space for days and not see anybody. In can really inhibit my interaction with the world and has been an ongoing part of my life. This is also juxtaposed by an outgoing a boisterous version of me that my friends see. This is not necessarily an act, but just the counteraction of the painful anxiety that keeps me inside myself. I feel that the outro is me moving away from a panic attack or a stint of self imposed isolation to embrace the world and my friends and how amazing the universe can be (I just made myself vom a lil in my mouth).
Without U Again
M: This was one of those songs that just poured out of me with such ease. Like it was there all along and just waiting for the right moment to emerge. It’s the track on the album that resonates with me the most. The song explores the temperamental nature and fragility of relationships. The idea that you can be completely absorbed in something one day and then fully detached from it the next. The lyrics are almost like an irrational train of thought, trying to convince yourself you feel a certain way and then changing your mind. The final chorus is the realisation that despite this constant fluctuation of thoughts and emotions, the underlying truth can’t be denied. Subconsciously restraining yourself from letting go, because the idea of completely moving on and letting this person disappear from your life is unimaginable. The track ends with a five-minute instrumental breakdown. The atmosphere shifts from soft and dreamy, to intense and dynamic. The fluctuating and unpredictable nature of relationships; the rise and the fall.
C: The end of this is for the dance floor. The start is a dark and introspective love letter that alludes to dire and conclusive consequences. This kinda sums me up hahaha.
Follow SAATSUMA: FACEBOOK