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Superorganism: Meet the psych-pop band and bohemian commune that's fronted by a Japanese teenager

Superorganism: Meet the psych-pop band and bohemian commune that's fronted by a Japanese teenager

Hippy trippy

Text: Aravin Sandran


Image: Sony Music

When New Zealanders Harry and Emily sent over a demo they were working on to their Internet pal Orono in February 2017 — then 17 years of age and attending boarding school in Maine— little did they know it would soon become their first single ("Something For Your Mind") as an eight-member band called Superorganism. 

The band's name sums up the way the collective functions; they are a social unit comprised of eight distinct and nomadic longtime friends who've come together through the Internet. Since February, they have moved in together under one East London roof that serves as their DIY, live-in recording studio.

It might sound a little bonkers, but it is this sense of free-flowing play that comes through in their self-titled debut album, which features Orono's deadpan vocal fry colliding beautifully with MGMT-like synths and psychedelic visuals. It's no surprise that they've caught the attention of music luminaries such as Frank Ocean who featured them on his Blonded Beats 1 radio show as well as Gorillaz who tapped them for a trippy remix of their single "Humility" in 2018.

The boho commune has plenty of surprises up their sleeves for 2019 including rumoured additions. Landing in Singapore as part of their on-going world tour next week, hear what Superorganism had to say about their genesis and whirlwind year so far.

How did you meet and know you could create music together?
We met over a long period of about 10 years via music forums and YouTube recommendations. You can really create music with anyone you click with and share a similar excitement for music and art.

The recording process for "Something For Your Mind", your first song together, was pretty quick. What were the initial starting points for the demo and lyrics?
Some of us created the initial demo in London, then we sent it to Orono who wrote some lyrics and sent it back within an hour. It was the first song we created so I guess it was an experiment. At the point we made it, we weren't really a project. It was just something we put together for our own amusement so it was crazy when we put it online and so many people were so excited about it.

What were some of the messages and reactions that you initially received after the track was released?
"This is the new project of Damon Albarn/Tame Impala/Janet Jackson", "These people aren't even real", "This must have been put together by some music industry mastermind", "I love this, amazing song".

Each member of the group has a distinct identity. Could you please briefly describe each member and their contribution to the group?
Robert Strange  Videos, visuals, aesthetics
Orono  Lead Vocals
Soul  Vocals, vibes, choreography, psych
Tucan  Mixing, drums, weed
 Vocals, choreography, costumes
Emily  Production, Keyboard, also weed
Ruby  Vocals, choreography
Harry  Production, guitar, alcohol consumption

 

Superorganism has been compared to bands like Gorillaz. How do you feel about that?
Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are obviously legends, so it's very flattering to be compared to something so ambitious and crazy.

The group lives and creates music under the same roof in London, a 24-hour live-in production house in essence. Could you give us a little insight into how a track comes to life in the house?
Usually, we'll hang out and listen to music together, which will lead to someone having an idea. They'll make a demo that will be sent around until everyone has made their contributions. Tucan will mix it and then, Robert makes a video or live visual to accompany it.

Besides creating music together, how are you guys as housemates? Do you have meals together?
To be honest, we have been touring so much lately that we're rarely at home! We have a strict cleaning roster, and various combinations of people will eat together from time to time.

The group started playing its first live shows in September. Has there been any revelations or highlights so far?
We played our first shows in September 2017, so it's been over a year now. Highlights have been playing at Primavera in Barcelona, Fuji Rock in Japan, big headline shows in London, LA and New York, and just getting to go to all sorts of weird parts of the world that we never thought we'd get to see.

Any other surprises up your sleeves in 2019?
If we told you, they wouldn't be surprises, but yes, there are lots of stuff in-store. ;)

Superorganism will make their debut in Singapore on 11 January 2019 at The Pavilion @ Far East Square. Tickets are selling fast.

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