Definition of superorganism: a collection of agents which can act in concert to produce phenomena governed by the collective. If you know Superorganism then you know they live up to their name. The eight-person supergroup come from all corners of the globe to create their quirky, eclectic sound that has taken the world by storm. The mixed bag of musicians hailing from Japan, England, Australia and New Zealand took the music world by storm when they released their first track Something For Your M.I.N.D back in 2017, without initially attaching their name to the tune. Fast forward to 2018 and the collective are touring Europe leading up to their debut self-titled album released earlier this month. CHARLOTTE SAXON had a chat with writer, producer and synth master Emily (aka Mark David Turner) ahead of their upcoming album release, talking about being a music nerd, the world wide web, and life in a band of eight.
Your sound is really quirky and different to anything we’ve heard recently. How would you describe it?
Well I think it’s like eight people’s eclectic tastes all coming together. One of the most fun things for us is getting together in the kitchen and listening to lots of different music every single day, constantly listening to new releases, listening to old stuff we don’t necessarily know, filling in each other about weird niches in terms of the different countries we come from because everyone’s kind of an obsessive music nerd with weird knowledge from their childhood. So I think that’s kind of where that eclecticism comes from.
I also think growing up with streaming services and access to all of music’s history kind of changes the way you think about music compared to if you grow up with maybe pop radio, or rock radio, where they’re trying to draw these lines. Whereas when you start listening to it all together you start realising the kind of trappings of the genres, and you realise the bells and whistles. It’s really more about the kind of outlook of the artists and the unusual personalities combined with their ability to do crazy pop hooks and stuff.
So you take influence from so many different areas and make it your own. It’s so refreshing. You don’t just stay locked in one defined genre…
Yeah like our particular interests, all eight of us, is in the history of pop music, and pop music as in music that has a really immediate punch in your gut reaction. So the way we all pitch music to each other constantly, we’re pitching ideas to each other and the way you do that is just do it and show people. If you’re getting that reaction then it works, and if you’re not then it’s not. So it’s straightforward like that.
Let’s talk about the group’s origin story. It’s different to the average band as you guys all met online and lived in completely different countries…
I guess it is a little bit like growing up in high school and meeting through friends, I mean it feels like that to me. The internet is kind of the intermediary for us. We started meeting each other more than 10 years ago, and some of us were teenagers, and bored after school, chatting on MSN and just trying to find each other. A bunch of us were born in different places but kind of like living in New Zealand because of our families and stuff. So then we were talking to each other and finding each other across different cities. Then we start moving together and making music together and doing various projects together and then living together, moving between different cities, moving to London.
Orono is the latest addition to the group. She was in Tokyo and YouTube had recommended this project that some of us were working on that she liked and came along and checked it out when we were playing in Tokyo. It’s kind of a weird experience. It almost feels like the internet is putting us together. I know that maybe has a sinister overtone. It’s a version of like when Spotify recommends a song you’ve never heard and its really good. Like a version of that, happening over a long period of time.
The internet can be a scary place but I think for you guys it’s worked its eerie magic in the best way. I guess without the internet you guys may never have formed Superorganism?
Yeah it’s crazy! The internet’s like society in that way that it’s like mankind. It’s got dark things, and really great things, just a total mixed bag. That for us has been this amazing thing. It’s pulled us all together, we’re all from these places that are disconnected from the rest of the world so the internet’s been that bridge for us.
Do you face many difficulties being a band of eight? Do you ever have differing opinions or visions for the direction of your music?
Because we’ve been together for such a long period, it’s almost like a natural selection thing in that we all just have a similar outlook, so not really. We tend to constantly just debate various things, like listening to music and picking it apart or saying what does this mean or what do you think this means. Everyone has lots of different opinions and that’s great. And at the same time everyone has various areas that are kind of their superpower. For example, Tucan’s fantastic with mixing and more technical in that stuff. Robert’s fantastic with all the visual things. Ruby and B have this fantastic unquenchable thirst for modern pop music and they’re always bringing these new songs into the mix. Everyone respects each other’s areas. Everyone understands that we all kind of do these different things. So when we disagree it’s kind of obvious which way feels right to lean. It’s like the power rangers you know, everyone has their own strength.
The new album came out March 2. What can people expect when they listen to it?
It’s kind of an eclectic record. It’s funny because when we made the record, we were not really aware of what it was until we reflected on it. We felt like kids playing and coming up with all the stuff and then you kind of look back on it after you’ve done it. It’s really cool it’s kind of like a day in the life of Superorganism. Starts with waking up in the morning and going through this media saturated world that we live in and coming out in the end and not being able to sleep.
Did you write and produce it all in the UK?
We did it between America – Orono was there staying at a boarding school and so she recorded a lot of the stuff over there – Soul was living in Sydney and he recorded a lot of stuff there. Then we recorded a lot of stuff in our home. It’s all done in our bedrooms and we do it all including all the visuals and then the mixing, all the rehearsals for the live shows and making the live show and do all these projections and it’s just a great kind of spectacle and we do it all ourselves. We like to keep creative control. We’re trying to distill eight different personalities so we try and keep it all home made.
And you’re going on tour! Are you guys excited?
It’s a really mind-blowing experience. It’s a really weird thing when you make something that doesn’t involve anyone else, so you’re just at home doing a thing. It’s kind of like playing a video game at home. And then suddenly you go out and there’s like all these people and people are engaging with what you’re doing. It blows our minds. So we can’t wait for it. We’re going on tour in Europe and we were able to get, because there’s so many of us we needed to get a bus that we sleep in and we’re all like woah. The bus looks way cooler than our house, like our house is a bit shit and cramped and stuff but the bus is cool. We’re so stoked.
That’ll be so much fun still all staying so close while touring…
It’s going to be so cool. It’s like a real natural extension for us because we’re all people who were born somewhere and grew up somewhere else. It’s kind of like travelling people, how for us home is the connection to the small group of people around us and our close-knit group of friends. So for us it’s like totally natural to take this thing on the road. I can’t wait to record on the road and do all this stuff, exactly like we’re doing at home but we can do it touring around. I can’t wait to see what kind of things that brings.
Do you think you’ll make your way to tour Australia soon?
We’re definitely going to come to Australia. Absolutely. We’re just trying to book shows and stuff so they’re not properly confirmed yet but we’re definitely going to come and do a bunch of shows this year. Because I’m from Australia, from Sydney, Soul is from Sydney as well, so for us Australia is super important. It’s like a spiritual hub for a couple of us and growing up there, growing up with Rage and Triple j it’s like a mindset. I think it’s like a whole mindset that’s quite different to the rest of the world and it’s something that I feel super strongly about and can’t wait to play in Australia. We have a whole lot of different hometowns, so we played in Tokyo which is a home town for Orono, so being able to play in Australia is a home coming in a certain way. I can’t wait!
And you have such a big fan following here too. You guys did well in the Triple J countdown making it into the #101-200 part…
That’s crazy. It’s really weird, Triple J starting playing our music before we’d said anything about what we’re doing or who we are. It’s not like it was a reaction to us being Australian or anything. That means a lot because it means something’s coming through the actual music without any context. It feels, it connects somehow. It’s so cheesy but it makes me feel super proud.
Such a great initial first reaction without any connection to who you guys are really shows for the quality of the music…
Yeah it’s just mind-blowing. It’s crazy.
What’s in the works for you guys for the rest of the year? You’ve obviously got your touring and the album release. Do you have anything else planned?
For us, recording music and making the visual art that goes with it is the main thing we do. So we’re doing that everyday constantly. It’s really exciting talking to you right now it’s fantastic, and being able to see the world and tour and do this stuff is awesome. So all the time we’re constantly working on things, so we’ve just got this huge wealth of things and more music and more art that we just can’t wait to release as well so we’re just bursting at the seams. So expect lots more stuff from us as well.