SUPERORGANISM – Track by Track

Foto-© Jack Bridgland

Als das selbstbetitelte Superorganism Debütalbum 2018 erschien war die Aufregung und der Hype greifbar, war doch die zuerst einfach via Soundcloud hochgeladene Single Something For Your M.I.N.D. einer der spannendsten Songs aus 2017 und fand sogar Anklang bei Frank Ocean! Das Rezept dahinter: ein Post-Everything-Mischmasch aus psychedelischem Indie-Pop, sprudelnder, funkiger Electronica und ein echtes Händchen für eigenwillige Sing-a-Longs. In den vergangenen vier Jahren hat das Kollektiv, zu deren aktueller Besetzung Orono, Harry, Tucan, B und Soul gehören, ihren Flickenteppichsound weiterentwickelt, wovon das am Freitag erschienene Album World Wide Pop zeugt. Für uns haben Superorganism ein Track by Track zu ihrem neuen Album geschrieben!

1. Black Hole Baby

Orono: This one’s kind of a sequel to our “theme song” SPRORGNSM from our last record. It’s a pessimistic yet optimistic doomsday song, it reminds me of being on tour and feeling like shit all the time but trying to convince myself that everything’s fine and dandy (when really it wasn’t lol) It also features me gushing over Ezra Koenig playing our track on his Beats1 show when I was 17 and in my dorm room, god damn anthony fantano and other famous people saying the name of our band and other nice things about us

Harry: Our first album was one hell of a ride, we went places and got accolades we never could have imagined, so we really couldn’t resist opening our second album with a bit of self indulgent triumphalist trumpeting to our return. We’ve got a lot of big themes throughout the record, so we thought working a fatalistic interpolation of “Welcome Back” into a submission to the inescapable pull of a black hole was a fitting way to set the scene. There are samples of fans that we crowd-sourced online too, so it gives a nice window into how everyone can be part of our Superorganism universe.

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2. World Wide Pop

Orono: Superorganism believes in the power of pop music and all the wonderful things it can do (like hopefully have a peaceful relationship with aliens…?) It’s a pretty bonkers song, I’m not really sure what it means tbh, I just know that it’s catchy as hell.

Harry: The title track and a mission statement in many ways. We’ve always been an ultimately optimistic project, and the unifying bonds and concerns that connect everyone in our species has always been something we’re interested in philosophically. The idea of art and even a pop song having that power is really profound to us, and that’s why we used a sample from the Voyager gold record, a sort of friendly greeting to the cosmos. There is the added bonus that this song (like a lot of the record) was recorded in bits and pieces in different parts of the world. I remember Soul’s verse being recorded in a hotel in Sapporo, Japan, whilst there was deep heavy snow falling outside, kind of magical.

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3. On and On

Orono: Repetition resonates and exists everywhere but it also drives us crazy. We’re all constantly consuming the same crap and numbing ourselves subconsciously, like with pop music. It reminds me of how I hate pop music sometimes but I still love it and can’t stop listening to it. Being comfortable is nice but it can be kind of scary and annoying once you realize how and why you’ve gotten so comfortable and used to your boring life.

Harry: On and On is an exploration of how our experience of time itself is a confusing, overwhelming thing, and there are certain unavoidable cycles that occur across individual life times and society itself. It is a bit of an analogy between the ground-hog day effect touring can have, with society’s repetitive cycles during the pandemic, and the cyclical nature of growing as a person and repeating the same mistakes along the way. At the same time, people’s capacity to love and create and have fun can never be fully stifled either. I’m not sure whether I believe in free will, but some things are destined to repeat throughout history and time, and this song goes there.

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4. Teenager (ft. CHAI & Pi Ja Ma)

Orono: Influencer culture’s basically promoting this “just be a kid forever whatever!” mentality and it’s a bit cringe but I also totally get it because growing up is also super cringe and awful. Rock’n’roll is always dying but never dead—I feel like that all the time. Anyway this song feels pretty open ended and weird to me (much like my favorite songs) and it’s so god damn catchy, I personally think it’s one of the best tracks we’ve ever written.

Harry: Following on from the confusing passage of time theme is Teenager, a song essentially celebrating holding onto the raw passion and emotion of those formative years. It is a rebuke of the cynicism that adulthood grinds into most people, an ode to the spontaneity and creative chaos of the teenage world view.  A foundational principle of this band was the playfulness of creativity, and lord knows we all had our share of being uninhibited emotionally at points in the last few years, so Teenager is an encapsulation of all that. We toured with both Chai and Pi Ja Ma multiple times, and became good friends on the road, so we thought both their energies were perfect for the sugar-rush of this song too.

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5. It’s Raining (ft. Stephen Malkmus & Dylan Cartlidge)

Orono: Scott Walker sample, Jeffrey Lewis (one of my ALL TIME FAVS) reference, Dylan and Steve’s CRAZY verses… this song is the real nerdy one on the album. I remember writing what were the bare bones of my verse on a really really shitty day on tour, I felt this weird sense of contentment with the fact that everything sucked and I hated myself because I considered myself a “fake.” I was just like you know what, fuck it, let’s just lean into this miserableness and be an asshole and write dumb shit about a “cyborg grilled cheese sandwich machine”

Harry: Tucan in particular has been a massive Scott Walker fan for ages, and the almost melancholic sample lent itself perfectly to a chill rainy-day come-down from the initial onslaught and colour of the opening tracks of the record. We’ve obviously been enormous fans of Stephen Malkmus forever, and we loved the idea of combining these two classic artists into a strange almost broken-sounding hip hop track. We’d done a remix for Dylan Cartlidge and absolutely loved his flow and passion, and when we asked him if he’d like to try a verse he fit so naturally. Dylan being from the North of England and Stephen being in Portland makes the rain theme all the more fitting for them both too.

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6. Flying

Orono: I don’t know if we’re allowed to say this but we wrote this as an assignment! It was gonna be in a certain movie but it didn’t work out, but we wrote a dope song so we decided to put it on the album. I went ultimate cheese for this one, I was trying to write super positive/optimistic realistic lyrics (cos that was the assignment) but that somehow turned into this weird projection of my contempt for the music /entertainment industry lol.

Harry: Coming back to these themes of time and context, Flying is a tribute to the achievements we make as a species. The idea sprang from how crazy it is that humanity went from flying 30 metres to landing on the moon in just 66 years in the early part of the 20th century. It’s so inspiring that these achievements happen, even when some people claim they are impossible. Being an artist is full of moments of self-doubt, so this song is kind of a challenge to ourselves to be resilient and push through to realise our ambitions.

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7. Solar System (ft. CHAI & Boa Constrictors)

Orono: This song feels sexy to me for some reason but it doesn’t really have anything to do with sex! It’s more about desperately praying to some sort of higher being (in this case the solar system/the universe.) My good friend Joe Astle of Boa Constrictors is on this track saying some heavy existential shit, it’s an honor to have him on the track because he’s one of my all time favs (as an artist but more so as a human being!) Like a lot of my lyrics I wrote different parts of it at different times so each thing means and is referring to totally different things that I don’t really wanna get into, but one thing I can get into is the lyrics for the second verse. It’s basically just a wannabe, condensed version of Big Sur by Jack Kerouac.

Harry: Solar System initially started as a jam, and it set such a floaty, melodic vibe that a song sprang around it. This song is another attempt at us contextualising who we are in this grand cosmic ocean, and feels like a bit of a centrepiece for the record. None of us are religious, but there is a lot of beauty in feeling small sometimes. It’s humbling, so a song like Solar System is an acknowledgement that humanity and Earth itself are just one small part of something much bigger, even here in our own little corner of this one galaxy out of billions. The initial jam spurred those thoughts, but then those thoughts inspired us to dive back into the production to create a sonic atmosphere that reflects genuine awe, like floating in the abyss. In some ways we’re traditionalists, and we see records in terms of a whole experience, so this one is the end of Side 1 in our heads. We got Axel from Pi Ja Ma, and his son Paul, to read a little poem about the passage of progress and time from different ends of the human experience. Almost like they’re the same person making these observations from the bookends of a life.

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8. Into The Sun (ft. Gen Hoshino, Stephen Malkmus & Pi Ja Ma)

Orono: Fun fact: I didn’t write most of the lyrics for my verse! They were just scratch lyrics the other dudes came up with initially but it was strangely super relevant to my life at the time so we decided to keep it. I remember when we first started jamming on this song, it all came together super naturally. A cute little lovebug song moment, and literally everyone sounds good as fuck on this track so this one gets another 10/10 from me.

Harry: We collaborated with Japanese legend Gen Hoshino a couple of years ago, and even shot a music video with him in Sydney, so we wanted to get him involved on this song. The whole record is all about combining different worlds and scales, so it was a real thrill to be able to mix Gen into a track with Stephen Malkmus and Pi Ja Ma. It’s a carefree song somewhat about being in your own bubble world, so bringing those French, American, and Japanese artists into that world reconnects the SuperO universe with these other bubbles – a bit of a multiverse! It’s a really fun concept and a good way to set the tone as we enter the second half of the record.

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9. Put Down Your Phone

Orono: Oh boy am I nervous to play this song live…. everyone’s gonna have their fucking phones up the whole time and I’m basically gonna be telling the audience to put their damn phones down lol In general, I don’t really like telling other people what to do (which isn’t necessarily even true cos when it comes to my closest friends best believe I think I know what’s best for them and what they should be doing with their lives….. anyway) so take it more as a suggestion rather than a commandment, at this point I think we all know how toxic and addictive our phones can be. I’ve been pretty much off of instagram the last 2-ish years cos I realized it brings me nothing but bad vibes (for the most part.) Humans aren’t really mentally equipped to hear what random strangers on the internet have to say about them (also, their opinions really don’t matter and shouldn’t hold so much power over our lives.) I also just don’t really care/want to know what my friends or famous people I’ve never met are up to on a constant basis, it’s actually kind of annoying. Anyway then I get into a weird tangent about modern day consumerism culture in capitalistic societies. I think I wrote that part because I realized that all the random skincare/makeup crap I would buy when I felt like shit WASN’T actually self-care and in fact was nothing more than a sly marketing tactic that unfortunately works super well. That pissed me off, but this one is also one of the best tracks we’ve ever written imho, so that’s pretty awesome.

Harry: After a bit of a detour into some more cosmic anxieties we’re back at the more personal ones with this song. Put Down Your Phone was one of the first concepts and songs sketched out for this album, but since it took us a long time to get it just right it only grew in meaning as time progressed. There is such an avalanche of information and noise and opinion that bombards us at all times, and it can be really hard to not get overwhelmed with it all these days. This song is a mantra that it is OK to switch off from that noise sometimes. That there’s nothing wrong with being aware and attuned to current affairs or social media, but that equally you are not obliged to take the weight of all that on your own shoulders and it can be healthy to just put it down.

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Orono; Yeah, I don’t really wanna talk about this song too much hahaha it came from a pretty sad place, it’s got to do with becoming obsessed with an idea of a person (which is a pretty common theme) and being self-aware throughout it, etc. I wanted to do like a really depressing and personal song but with the most deliciously obnoxious pop packaging. I was thinking about Kanye and Elliott Smith a lot (which is most of the time.) Initially it was just a heavy synth bass, some generic drums, an acoustic guitar and my vocals, it’s crazy how elaborate and dynamic this song has become. Stuart’s production really elevated it to the next level too. My favorite part of the song is that weird bridge section, it sums up the “meaning” of the song pretty well.

Harry: Staying in the realm of personal, we really wanted to keep this song feeling intimate, even as we fleshed it out with a Pet Sounds style whimsy and melancholy. It’s a musical journey through the anxieties and isolation that can arise from being an artist. The way the song’s production rises and falls, overwhelms then strips down, is a great analogy for how the lense of attention and expectations can bowl you over. It’s ultimately delicious though.

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11. Oh Come On

Harry: This song actually started a long while back when we had a couple of days off on tour in Chicago, so the whole band got together at our friend Carter Lang’s home and jammed the initial idea out. Apart from a few songs on this record, we’ve always assembled our songs in pieces and across the internet, so this one really represents a different approach for us. The heaviness of the track really came together through the energy in that room.   It’s an exploration of the anxiety and ego that you navigate on tour, it’s often the most stressful but ultimately rewarding part of being an artist and the tone of this song really reflects that feeling.

Orono: a love/hate song about playing shows! As Harry said, we started this song in Chicago, don’t be fooled by the “i’ll be back in boston” line. I wrote that part (and most of the verse lyrics) afterwards, it’s like a little shout out to my friends and family in new england. Anyway back in chicago I was depressed out of my god damn mind, we had like 2 days off in this huge house in chicago, I just ate leftover chipotle and nothing else, didn’t leave my room, binged rupaul’s drag race, and was sobbing uncontrollably the whole time. I didn’t even know why! I just felt so sick and tired of my life at the time. I probably would’ve stayed in my room til we had to leave if it weren’t for my friends telling me I should go over to Carter’s studio where they were hanging out at. Thank you friends, we wrote a great song and you guys cheered me up.

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12. Don’t Let the Colony Collapse

Orono: To me, this is a shout out track. The colony WOULD’VE collapsed if it weren’t for our tour manager, Gavin Chalmers. That’s all I need to say about this emotional, epic song.

Harry: Being called Superorganism, we’ve always been really interested in how more simple organisms working together can achieve things they could never achieve solo. Colony Collapse Disorder is a scary phenomenon affecting bee populations, and feels like it has parallels to human society and our environment. At the same time, we’re planning space exploration missions that may well result in remote outposts where any colonists are wholly dependent on one another. At times, being in a band can feel a bit like those colony systems, where you are all reliant one the support of one another to get through a challenge, so this song is like a plea to have all of these different bands, ecosystems, and societies pull together to survive. The seeds of this idea actually started just before the pandemic began, but the core plea only seemed to have become more pertinent as the pandemic progressed and we worked on the song.

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13. Everything Falls Apart

Orono: FRIENDSHIP PREVAILS ALL. shoutout to my besties

Harry: Closing out the record, Everything Falls Apart is a celebration of ourselves as a band and our friendship, how we have pulled together to get through times of chaos. So often in an artistic project it can feel a bit like everyone is holding on for dear life as we hurtle through our experiences, and it can often feel like everything is on a knife edge. In many ways, society itself has experienced something very similar in the last few years. We concluded the record with this song to reinforce the concept that if we all stick together, we’ll make it in the end.

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