Interview by Lee Chang Ming
Photography by Jordan Hughes and Jared Ryan Rezel
When Superorganism released their first single, the eight-piece band had never been in the same room. Fast-forward to today, they all live in the same house in London. Made up of online forum friends, Superorganism started out as a purely internet-based project. Since then, they’ve gone onto headlining their own tour and playing at major festivals around the world including this year’s Coachella Festival.
Superorganism’s sound is an overload of textures and colours, a psychedelic swirl of samples and synth-pop. We sat down with Ruby, Soul and Tucan before their Singapore debut to talk about the internet and whales.
Where did the name Superorganism come from?
Ruby (R): I think that when we first decided that we were going start the band, we had a Facebook group that we had set up, where we just talked about all sorts of stuff that we were interested in and at some point we started talking about whales, nature and technology and how things in both of those worlds, everything is really important for everything else, that everything exists within each other and works with each other. We talked about the word superorganism and how cool that was and it just stuck. Then we searched if anyone else had taken it.
Soul (S): Yeah, we looked it up and no else had taken it…
R: …and we were like, “that’s us”!
You mentioned about the whale, which features on your band poster and a few of your music. Is there some reason for that?
Tucan (T): It came about in a pretty organic way. I think as a design it’s quite a good shape, which is quite important in a visual.
S: The whale has its own ecosystem. The fish follow it around and when a whale dies it feeds however many animals and stuff, so it felt like a fitting kind of imagery for the band name as well.
The band met on the internet. Does the internet continue to have a huge influence in your process, in your sound and your aesthetic?
T: It’s how we met and it’s how we make music together. We make ideas and share them over the internet. We listen to music on the internet. You kind of live your life on it these days.
R: We definitely wouldn’t exist if the internet didn’t exist because a whole bunch of us were in different countries when we started making the music, so I can’t image the slow process of sending something via mail, which would have maybe put a stop to the band.
I read that the band is working on your second album. What can people expect from your new material. Are you taking a different approach?
T: We’re still kind of forming it, to be honest. We’ve got a bunch of songs, but it hasn’t really become enough. We’ve got a vague idea but we don’t want to say because ideas change and it’s always a work in progress right up to the last minute
S: There was one evening in Manchester, Orono had invited a couple of fans up on the bus and gave them a secret listening of a new song. She played a song [and] they said it was the most Superorganism song they’ve ever heard. So that’s the kind of direction that it’s going to be: more Superorganism than we already [are]!
R: We’ve got to push ourselves don’t we? We already know what we can do when we did our first album, which we were all super proud of and we’ve to do something that’s not the same as that album. Some people find it stressful but I think it’s really exciting. We just get to make cool shit.
Writing music and performing it live are different experiences and processes. Do you have a preference for either?
T: We love playing live, but all of us are much more interested in making records. At least that’s how I first started listening to music as a kid. It was always listening to records rather than going for shows. You get to create new things and try ideas out, whereas live it’s a bit more regimented, but it’s fun because you get to meet people and interact with the crowd.
S: When you’re making music you’re creating worlds, and then when you go tour, you’re like entering worlds with your world, and kind of like fusing them together. That kind of harmony that you experience when touring is going create your new world in your next album.
Shared experiences building upon each other to create new experiences. I like that idea.
R: It’s really gratifying to go out and do these shows and see the people that have been listening to the music; they’re the ones to support us, and we get to see them. It’s a really good feeling.
T: We made all this stuff in our bedrooms, it’s not studio. It’s all at home. So it’s pretty crazy that we’ve done all that and then we get to tour around the world and share it with people.
R: We get to see amazing cities like Singapore! I never thought, in a million years, that I’d be sitting here will all these snacks [laughs] talking to you and playing in Singapore tonight.
S: It’s so special just seeing all the cultures and then experiencing it and that’s all going to inform whatever you do – not just your music – just the way you live and interact with people.
Have there been any crazy stories being on the road?
T: We played at a festival in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, and Franz Ferdinand were headlining. They’re on our [label] Domino as well. They played “Take Me Out”, their big hit, as their last song and dedicated it to us! Then in Sydney they invited us on stage to sing that song.
S: Everyone was like, “who are these guys? Who are these hippies?”
R: Yeah, no one knew who we were. But we were like, “we love you Franz Ferdinand!” There have been some special moments like that.
You guys also have a pretty strong visual element in your performances. Could you tell us more?
R: Robert Strange is our visual artist and he doesn’t come on tour with us because he’s at home making other cool shit. He basically does all the visual art for our music videos and for our staging.
But he doesn’t play in the band?
R: No, but the whole thing about the band is that it was really important early on that the project’s not just about music; it’s a collective of artistic ideas. We talk about a lot of stuff that is not music, and we hope to do other cool stuff.
T: When we started we didn’t think we’d play live cause we were in different countries and we were just friends making music over the internet, so we never thought that we’d do that
Do you have any projects that are outside of music?
S: We’re all bursting with ideas; we just need someone to finance it. I’d love to make a TV show.
R: We need someone to finance a new house and then all of our ideas. That will be great!
Superorganism played at The Pavilion on 11 January 2019. Special thanks to Hostess Asia for the invite. For more information on their upcoming tour schedule, visit www.wearesuperorganism.com.