When London-based Superorganism released their first single, some of them had never met. In fact, their lead vocalist, a Japanese girl living in the USA, had blended with a fading New Zealand indie act living in the UK, and another member from South Korea, but living in Australia. A geographically confused entity, then, they met through message boards and wrote entirely online.
Debut single ‘Something for your M.I.N.D’ changed everything. Its wacky eclectic pop sound threw Superorganism into the mainstream limelight almost overnight. Soon enough, rather than sharing memes and musical thoughts online, they were appearing surrounded by inflatable whales, using apples as instruments and singing about prawns on NPR’s memorable YouTube music channel ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’.
Bravely, the eight-piece moved in together, in London, and things suddenly became a little less virtual. “We never imagined this would end up with us touring and playing festivals,” backing vocalist Ruby tell us ahead of a show at Europavox Festival in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Frontwoman Orono Noguchi cuts across her immediately, joking “I did. Everything that’s happened, I saw coming.” She’s being tongue in cheek, but Noguchi relocated from Maine to London off the back of early successes to make Superorganism a reality. The band, in general, have shown no little faith in the concept.
“The idea was everything would be done over the internet. Even at the start some of us were living in a house together, but we did everything online,” Ruby explains. “There was quite a big time difference, but we’ve always done things that way. Even now, all in the same house, we do everything by sending it between our rooms.”
Superorganism’s music is knowingly weird. Their eponymous debut album, released in March, is like a trippy, fast-paced sugar-coated glance at the weirder corners of internet culture, all abstract escapism, and wacky asides. The early single won the band a contract with renowned label Domino Records, and the album’s weirder moments include unwater ode ‘The Prawn Song’ and ‘Everybody Wants To Be Famous’, which walks a fine line between parody and a straight-faced reflection of the band’s origins.
The live show includes lots of synchronized dance, garish backdrop videos, and endless smiles. “We could release ten albums right now if we wanted to,” Noguchi tells us. “There’s a huge backlog of stuff we’re working on. There are so many ideas flying around.”
“I think everyone’s an internet band now,” Ruby continues. “We talk about it more, maybe. We all grew up starting bands on forums, punk bands and stuff, years ago. It makes for a few good stories.”
“We met over a period of about ten years, but all separately, and slowly. The music brought us closer, and it works for us. We didn’t play any shows until Soul joined us from Sydney, as the last arrival.”
“It was really exciting watching the hype build from afar,” Soul remembers, “though Australia was really sunny and I had to leave that.”
“I was confident when I came over because we have lawyers,” Noguchi jokes. “Domino came in before all that. Even at that point, we weren’t sure we were going to do live shows. We never thought we would all end up living in London, and then touring in France. It’s been a total whirlwind. Exhausting and crazy, and great.”
“We had to figure out how to do it all live in big group meetings, and figure out choreographs and stuff. Over a period of a few months, we figured out how we were going to do it. But everything felt pretty organic, like we’ve been given a problem and then just solved it.”
Superorganism’s debut album charted at number 25 in the UK, which just goes to show, sometimes the internet really is the best use of your time.
This article is one of my weekly music columns for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations.
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