Superorganism Keep It Real
"If you are in a position where you have a strong sense of your own identity and you know what you want to do and accomplish and stuff as an artist or in life, I think you should just try and stick with that"
Since meeting online and bonding over a shared love of both music and memes, Superorganism formed in early 2017 as a recording project to create their addictive, irresistible blend of art pop, indie and psychedelic sounds. Within a year, they’d signed a record deal and dropped their debut, self titled album (as well as finding themselves on the iconic FIFA ‘18 soundtrack), propelling them to new found worldwide fame.
Four years, a stack of shows and world tours and a feature on The Lego Movie 2 soundtrack later, Superorganism are back with their sophomore release, the aptly titled World Wide Pop. A seemingly natural evolution of the Superorganism sound, WWP features a stack of collaborators including the likes of Stephen Malkmus, Chai, Pi Ja Ma, Gen Hoshino and more, as well as producing a few incredible music videos that we've come to know and love from the group.
To find out all about the new album and the Superorganism journey so far, we caught up with lead vocalist Orono Noguchi.
I wanted to start with a bit of a silly question… was there ever any discussion to name the band SUPRAorganism, as opposed to SUPERorganism being that they are synonyms?
No. I mean, we didn't even know we were a band until people started referring to us as a band in emails and stuff. So no, there wasn't really a discussion of the name or what we were or anything like that.
But it stuck?
Yeah, I guess so.
So moving to 2018 when your first record came out - what was it like to go from being a group of friends who met online making music together to getting all of this worldwide attention?
I mean, I definitely wasn't really processing it at the time, I don't think my bandmates were either, so I didn't really know what was going on. I was just like, “Okay, I will go to the BBC studios now to do a live interview and talk about our music randomly”. So I just kind of like, went with the flow, did what I was asked to do. And just said yes to a bunch of things, basically.
And I’m guessing you found things that you enjoyed as well as things you didn’t enjoy during that process?
Oh yeah, I mean, I just had no idea how the industry worked, or, you know, what kind of hands you have to shake and dicks you have to suck, you know, so it was a big learning experience for me. And now that I kind of know the rules of the game, and how to play it, I have a better idea of, you know, what I want to do and how I want to do things, what I'm comfortable with, what I'm uncomfortable with, so I feel a lot more confident going into this cycle.
With it being a long four years since your debut album, do you have maybe a biggest piece of advice that you could share with your younger self?
I guess just follow your gut. There’s a lot of people that, like, want to use you, and kind of, I don't know, just mold you into whatever they think you are. But if you are in a position where you have, a strong sense of your own identity and you know what you want to do and accomplish and stuff as an artist or in life, I think you should just try and stick with that. Because then you’ve only got you at the end of the day, you're not trying to please other people, and that's kind of an uncertain thing that you can do so, yeah, just… don't even listen to me! Just do you.
Hell yeah! When was the new album World Wide Pop written?
We started working on it pretty much immediately after we finished the first record, so it would have been like summer 2017.
So before the first album was even released, interesting, because I wanted to ask if for the new album you felt any expectation or “pressure to please people” in the writing process?
No, not really. I mean, we don't really think about that, because we try and do it for fun, and it’s just like something that we would have been doing anyway, you know, so it doesn't really matter what other people think or how well the album does or whatever. I honestly don't care if the album flops or whatever. I keep saying that. I feel like by saying that, in interviews, I'm gonna manifest it but like, it's okay, yeah, it's fine. If I manifest that, that's kind of cool if I manifest that. But I'm happy with the record. I think it's awesome and bigger and better than the first record. And we worked really hard on it. So that counts, that's a success to me.
And what about the flipside - what’s a “flop” to you?
I think a flop is like, when the label says, “Oh, you're not selling enough records”. That's all it really means. And even if they tell me that I’d probably be like “okay, sorry, we did do a bunch of talking to press that you guys asked us to do, and we put in our work so sorry it sucks. Sucks to be you, I guess”. I don't know. Pinkerton came out and people fucking hated it, but then like, I don't know, years later, it's like their most celebrated record, or close, you know? So the actual art and the content, I feel like it's very subjective. And I'm very happy with it. So, you know, it's… who cares?
Yeah, absolutely - I always tell the story of my mum giving OK Computer to her friend when it came out, only to go and buy it again a few weeks later… anyways… so with band member Soul still based in Australia and the rest of the band sometimes in different cities, how does a Superorganism album come together? Is there a typical sort of way it works?
Not really, we just also kind of go with the flow on that. Actually, the creative process with this record was pretty similar to the first record, in that it was a lot of sending emails to each other back and forth with the Logic projects stuff and ideas. But then, well, we were on the road for two years straight. So sometimes we'd be in situations where we were hanging out with other musicians, friends, and we'd have a little jam, and then we take that months later, and then build a song off of that and stuff. So it was kind of a mixed bag, but mostly the same processes of the first record.
So you’ve mentioned other musicians and I have to ask about some of the collaborations on the album, starting with Stephen Malkmus - so dope, how did you guys link up?
The label kind of set us up on a playdate. We were playing a show in London on the same night, so we got lunch together, like the entire band and Malkmus, it was really funny. So yeah, but we didn't talk about like, “so do you want to be on her record” and all that it was more like, “Hey, you're cool. What, what are you doing today? And do you like London? Cool.” Coffee, you know, but then we just kind of kept in touch for a while after that. And we had a song with an empty verse and some other tracks that we thought he would sound cool on. So we were like, “Hey, are you bored? Are you interested in working on this?” And he was like, “Sure”. So that's kind of how that came about.
And you got him to spit some bars which is so cool. What about Chai, who you’re also featuring on their latest single?
We’re friends. They're not like super close friends, but I found out about their music from a mutual friend, and I think maybe they did as well. So we've kind of been fans of each other for a while from pretty early on, I would say. And yeah, we met and we hit it off. And we went on tour together and played a bunch of shows together in Japan as well. And so we just spent a lot of time together weirdly. So that's kind of how they ended up on the record. They just sound so good, and their energy is crazy.
That would be such a good double bill! So I have to ask about your music videos, which are all fun, wacky and wild - where do you guys even begin with these crazy videos?
So for this record, me and Harry have kind of taken charge on the idea, like the brainstorming process with the music videos. So for each music video, usually one of us has a stronger opinion and then the other person will be like, “oh, yeah, that reminds me of this and that”, you know. So that's kind of how it went about for the current one. I mean, it's been really fun. And then we kind of put together like a pitch and these crazy ideas into like, one Google Doc, or Google Slides, or whatever, and send it off to Dan, who has directed all the videos for this album cycle, because we don't have animation skills, or the super technical skills when it comes to making videos. I just know how to use iMovie. And he has great taste, and just usually knows what we kind of are trying to accomplish with each video right off the bat. So it's another kind of instance of instant great chemistry with another artist, you know.
Is that pretty rare, that kind of instant chemistry?
I mean, to me, if I don't have the instant connection, I just like - I don't forget about them, but like, I'm like, “Okay, you just want to be friends” or whatever. So, to me, it doesn't feel rare because everyone I ended up collaborating with extensively I have a good chemistry with. I don't try to seek out collaborations with people that I don't vibe with, you know, so, to me, it doesn't feel that rare.
Yeah for sure. So I have to ask - of the music videos from the album so far, do you have a favourite?
Probably Teenager, I think Teenager’s my favorite.
Cos I love Brian Jordan Alvarez. He's like, my favorite. And so I went kind of deep into his YouTube channel and stuff. And I saw all these videos of him dancing that didn't really get as many views as his other like Tik Tok videos and stuff. But I was obsessed with those dancing videos. I've been watching that for years now. And the whole time I've been like, “I want him to do one to one of our songs”. So that was pretty much the idea. And we reached out to him, and he was like, “Sure”, and he's super cool. And just will give it 110% as he always does. So I would say that's my favorite. But the one that we're working on currently is pretty cool as well. So I'm excited for you to see it when it comes out.
Oooh can you share which track?
Yeah… can I? Yeah, sure. It’s Solar System. So, yeah, keep an eye out for that.
Yeah sick, can’t wait to check it out! So with the album nearly out, you’re gearing up to tour it, including a few special shows in Australia - anything in particular you’re most looking forward to?
Okay. After traveling the world for two years straight, what I learned as a musician on tour is that most places seem the same to me. There's always a Chinatown. There's always a McDonald's, there's always a Starbucks you can go to and feel safe… but Australia was so crazy and weird to me, and I've had a great time. Every single time I was there, and I love the people there. I've always been fascinated by Australia. There's a Ben Folds song called Adelaide. And ever since I heard that song when I was like 13, I've been wanting to move to Adelaide because it sounds amazing. So I'm very excited to be in Australia and please don't ask me to do a shoey, because I'll probably do it and then my dad's going to text me being like, please stop doing shoeys…
*laughs* I swear no one really does them here, it’s like, one of those things….
And I’m like “I thought you guys all did”, like I thought you guys had to do that to be Australian.
The great Aussie con… meme con *laughs* Yeah you don’t really see them down here, well I don’t anyways… so have you visited Adelaide before?
No, but I really want to.
Yeah and tough to “squeeze in” with how big Australia is and the space between Adelaide and the East Coast and stuff.
Yeah, I hear it’s pretty like rural and kind of bogan?
Well… I’ll just say no one in Australia really ever says they dream of moving to Adelaide.
Yeah, it’s just me and Ben Folds.
And lots of cannabis… lots of weed in South Australia *laughs*
Cool, I like that.
As do I… Wicked, thanks so much for chatting, Orono and congratulations again on Superorganism’s new album, World Wide Pop!
Awesome, that was fun, thank you so much.