London-based band Superorganism has amassed copious amounts of acclaim since “Something for Your M.I.N.D.,” their first single released in early 2017. The track was posted on Soundcloud with the message, “We are Superorganism. We are in Maine/London. We are DIY. We are eight and multiplying. We have become sentient.”
Soon after, the song made its way to Frank Ocean’s and Ezra Koenig’s respective Beats 1 radio shows and even Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist. Internet buzz escalated quickly, and a year later, in March 2018, they released their self-titled debut.
Superorganism keyboardist Mark "Emily" Turner (each band member goes by made-up names, minus the lead singer) says fans have responded to their first album differently in its meaning. Turner relates how there wasn’t an intention to tackle specific themes in their first album but rather it was merely about having fun.
“For us, making music isn’t an intellectual pursuit,” he says via email. “It’s more mucking around like a bunch of kids. We’ve now toured the world a few times and had lots of people tell us what our album means to them, and it’s always something different and personal to that person. I think all good music is like that. So I don’t think we’re the right people to ask about what it all means.”
The band incorporates sounds into their songs that may seem experimental, like cans cracking, a cash register opening, underwater sounds and even liquids poured into cups, to give a few examples. Turner states that their sonic experimentation comes from influences that have done the same yet kept their sound pop.
“All our favorite stuff does this,” he says. “The Beastie Boys, Bowie, Devo, Talking Heads, Beck, Daft Punk, Kanye. I think experimenting with lots of sounds is a lot of fun, but that keeping it all in a pop format is the tricky bit.”
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One thing Turner notes about the success of their first album is the quality with which they make a pop song, something rare with the waves of music posted online on a daily basis.
“I think we’re just really good at writing pop music,” Turner says. “There are lots of bands out there with cool outfits or sick production or whatever but not very many bands writing really good stuff.”
While visually Superorganism uses internet culture, especially memes, as the basis for their music videos, the band doesn’t consider itself as the soundtrack to the culture. Instead, their music captures the band’s own view of the world, which is sometimes comedic.
“Our music soundtracks our own lives and reflects our personalities I guess, so that’s where you’re hearing a sense of humor coming through,” Turner says. “We don’t see ourselves as whimsical or anything. I just love songs like 'Vegetables' by the Beach Boys, or 'Yellow Submarine,' or 'Whip It,' or, I don't know, 'Clap Hands' by Beck. 'Fight for Your Right' by the Beasties. It’s just a way of looking at the world, an interest in absurd and weird stuff.”
Although only seven band members perform live, the other band member, Robert Strange — otherwise known as Blair Everson — designs all of the band’s music videos and staging. Strange portrays the band using colorful and playful imagery that sometimes comes off as kitsch, mostly because, as he states, it helps to overstimulate the audience in the same manner the music does.
“I've always been drawn to really colorful stuff, and I like when things are over-the-top and intense," Strange says. "I think the only way to match the intensity of our music is to overload the listener's senses in the same way visually. The throwback element of our visual style is partly out of necessity, because when we started I animated and edited everything by myself and partly out of nostalgia for the '90s where the internet was portrayed as a pixelated tube with binary code visibly flying through it. Everyone knows how the internet works now, but I like to portray its interconnected nature as a huge awe-inspiring mystery.”
Using a whale as the band logo, Strange also utilizes ocean life to depict Superorganism’s music visually. He explains that a lot of the imagery comes from a respect of what the ocean is capable of doing.
“It sounds made up, but the whale actually came to us very organically,” he continues. “I was just browsing animated 3D animal loops making the 'Something for your M.I.N.D.' video and there it was. For me the oceanic imagery prevails due to the vast power of the ocean — it feeds you and gives you a place to swim and have a super chill time, but disrespect it for a moment and it'll flip your boat, drag you away from shore and leave you treading water wondering what epic creatures are going to show up to eat you. Pretty freaky, man.”
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Following the success of their debut album, the band has already finished writing their sophomore album and is in the process of completing production. Turner says it will be a concept album, involving new characters, and can say no more about the album until its release.
Until then, Superorganism continues touring worldwide. They make their way to Dallas for the first time Sept. 17 to perform at Trees. The band has visited Texas before, having played at SXSW earlier this year, but as Turner comments, this will mark their first show in Dallas, which he sees as a potential place to have the band move in to.
“We’ve only been to SXSW, never been to the south at all otherwise,” Turner says. “I’m really looking forward to it. I imagine that Dallas has lots of dudes in ten-gallon hats, driving giant trucks and eating Mexican food. Is that an annoying stereotype? 'Cause that sounds really awesome to me. We’re looking at places in the USA to live, and Dallas is on the list of cities to check out. I’m excited.”