SUPERORGANISM | A Horse Wearing an Oculus, Giving It the Experience of Skydiving
Am I tripping? Has the military industrial complex resumed their acid tests? What else could possibly account for this gleeful insanity implanted in my frontal lobes? B, Emily, Harry, Orono, Robert Strange, Ruby, Soul, and Tucan are not an ordinary band of musical gypsies: they are Superorganism. Looking like a ‘70s German Hippie Art-rock collective, sounding like a lo-fi electro-pop fever dream, they have crafted 2018’s most compelling release in their self-titled debut. Disposable? Not when you cannot get the fucking songs out of your head. Simplicity falls down into a multi-layered rabbit hole. Am I picking up assemblage reminiscent of Eno’s two 1974 classics? Yes. Is there early-Devo jangly discomfort? Yes. Beck stream of consciousness, Owl City, an Apple eaten as a percussive break? Yes, yes, and yes.
The prelude to this strange and wonderful ballad: four of the lads [Emily, Harry, Robert Strange, and Tucan] were The Eversons, a New Zealand band relocated to London (I am particularly fond of ‘It’s a Trap’ off the LP). Orono, a Japanese high school student relocated to Maine, hears them and swipes right. Aha! you might say (though I somewhat doubt you are): Orono is a city in Maine named after Penobscot chief Joseph Orono, so this is all made up. Oh no; while those are cash money facts, Orono’s parents—both Japanese exchange students—met at the University of Maine, and when they had a daughter they naturally named her after the town where they met. Back in Japan for a holiday she sees The Eversons perform; they meet, they interact on the relevant medias, and she ends up writing lyrics and singing on some demos remotely from her Maine boarding school dorm room. Along the way three more singers are added and it is decided that, upon graduation, Orono will move to London. She does, and voila: a Superorganism is born. Typical.
I caught up with Orono Noguchi in Los Angeles during Superorganism’s massive sweep of North America to profess my love and to uncover dark secrets.
What the hell is it that you put in the songs that make them so addictive? Cheese?
We just all love pop music so much. The kind of infectious music that just stays in your head.
What’s it like living in a big house together with all these...
Old people? It’s so weird, they’re so old, man.
And your parents just let you go to London?
Well there was a contract... not a contract, but when I wanted to go they told me, “As long as you’re safe and you don’t get in trouble and you don’t expect any money from us, go ahead.”
So they’re cool.
On second thought, yeah, I guess they are cool. I mean, look at me [laughs all around].
The rest of the band don’t treat you like a kid.
No, I treat myself like a kid. Just putting myself down like an angsty insecure teenager: You immature piece of shit, I just kind of keep that mantra going. I wish I could have all of the experience without all of the old people bullshit, and that really gets to me. In high school I would look across the classroom and think, ‘I’m so much better, I’m way smarter than a lot of these kids here,’ and I really got off on that, but then you get out into the real world and realize you’re not hot shit anymore.
You can’t live the debauched life of a rock star in the States when you’re not 21. But in London...
No, not in the States. I don’t drink that much though, so it’s ok. I do like cider. Cider and gin and tonics—those are my jam. For Harry’s birthday I drank three point five liters of cider.
Your first hangover.
I always thought that hangovers were like throwing up everywhere. So I woke up the next day and texted my friend, ‘I drank a bunch of cider last night and I feel fine.’ Then I went to get up and just fell down on the floor. I crawled into the bathroom and then spent the rest of the day in bed.
You have accomplished a lot pretty early.
Right? I always thought my plan would be: go to college, start a band, and then get a record deal in my mid twenties, like everybody else does. But I skipped all that. Now I think I’m too far for college. I mean, I will go back to college. I was thinking about this last night; that I want to go as a professor.
What are you going to teach?
Not music, I was never interested in studying music. And not art. When we were trying to figure out how all of this was going to work my manager told me that there are a lot of good art schools in London, and I’m like, fuck that! I fucking hate art school. I hate being told what to do creatively.
Tell me about the perks of being famous.
Ok, about a month ago I got Tinder because outside of the band I only have one friend in London who’s my age. And it was 2am and I was bored and lonely and listening to Weezer, so I got Tinder. Not to meet anybody in real life, you know, just to, like, text somebody. So we’re in Berlin and Ruby grabs my phone and she’s Tindering up a storm and then I find Paul. He’s a 19 year old boy, half American and half German, and he’s into Car Seat Headrest and Larry David and I think, “I’ve found my dream man.” But I accidentally swipe left and he’s gone forever. You can pay extra to get some kind of rewind thing, but I’m too cheap to pay for that. So I go to twitter and announce: “Hey 19 year old Paul from Berlin! I accidentally deleted you and I’m too cheap to pay for rewind, so hit me up.” Two weeks later I get a message from him. He was telling his friends that he was bummed about missing the Superorganism show in Berlin and they linked him to my Twitter feed and he’s coming to Bristol in the spring and we’re going to maybe meet up.
Love at first swipe?
Written by Bill DiDonna
Photographed by Chris Schoonover
1. Fantasy rider submitted by Superorganism for pseudo-psychoanalytical evaluation:
- A horse wearing an oculus, giving it the experience of sky diving
- Steve Albini as backstage barista serving his signature drink: ‘The Fluffy’
- A hot tub filled with NOS energy drink, and eight cups
- Katy Perry making cotton candy 
- A pre show pep talk from Anthony Robbins
- One bitcoin (must be paid in cash)
2. One cannot begin to delineate the contemporary dimensions of displaced longing without considering the paradigmatic example of Katy Perry. As a fantasia that agglomerates many of the most salient cultural queues that we have come to understand as signifying “desirability,” Ms. Perry can be read as a psychoanalytic projection of popular culture’s most wished-for traits, concretized through the willingness of our culture to exchange material goods to secure the perpetuation of the fantasy. As siloed, fragmented individuals increasingly engaging with the broader world
through an ever-proliferating array of interfaces, we no longer expect to find the desired in the hustle and bustle of every day life; nor could any “normal” person hope to embody the chimerical grotesque that is the new ideal. Therefore, as is seen in Superorganism’s telling wish for Katy Perry to prepare for them a delicate, shimmering confabulation of spun sugar, Superorganism perhaps subconsciously looks to Ms. Perry as in some sense representing what, given time, they hope to achieve—a sort of Oedipal warping of Ms. Perry’s role in our culture into a new personal mother figure for the group, signifying a wished-for position in the culture as influential and totemic as hers.