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Superorganism reaches into all the musical corners of the Earth on 'World Wide Pop'

ORONO: If you're interested in kind of a personal exploration of pop music that me and my friends do, check it out. And if it's not your cup of tea, that's totally fine. Go listen to old music. I love old music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORLD WIDE POP")

SUPERORGANISM: (Singing) Good morning. Welcome to the channel. I hope you can handle the tutorial.

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:

Orono - she prefers to go by just her first name - is the lead singer of the band Superorganism. They made a splash with their debut album in 2018, a frenzy of collected samples and deadpan lyrics. Her bandmates, who are from all over the world, met both in-person and on the internet, and their musings about the peril and promise of life online continue in a new album, "World Wide Pop."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORLD WIDE POP")

SUPERORGANISM: (Singing) It's a world wide pop. Pop. And all the people jump up when they feel it glowing. Intergalactic shock...

ESTRIN: So how much of this album was actually recorded in the same room or even, you know, in the same country?

ORONO: Most of it was still recorded remotely just 'cause I feel like being in our rooms or in our little bunks on the tour bus kind of is just our preferred, like, mode of creating music, I guess.

ESTRIN: So you actually preferred to record separately in separate rooms, even though you could have all just recorded in the same space.

ORONO: That's just kind of how we grew up making music and learned how to make music, on our laptops in our rooms. So it just kind of ends up happening like that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORLD WIDE POP")

SUPERORGANISM: (Singing) It's a world wide pop.

ESTRIN: Well, a lot of your music involves not just singing and music, but actually gathered sound. So we hear some of that in the track "Solar System."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOLAR SYSTEM")

SUPERORGANISM: (Singing) Cool. Press the button to be begin. This is the planet Pluto.

ORONO: It's, like, such a core part of our songwriting process that it's, like, literally all over the records because we just kind of include sounds from our daily life. We just have, like, a great management team and label that helps us figure it out because we sampled something that we randomly found, and then we, like, almost got sued. And it was a whole thing. So this time around, we did it all legally.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOLAR SYSTEM")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We first flew in 1903.

ESTRIN: I have to say, you know, when I first listened to your album, it kind of felt like the musical equivalent of TikTok. It was that...

ORONO: I don't know if that's a compliment or a dis.

ESTRIN: Well, wait a minute. Hear me out. Hear me out.

ORONO: OK.

ESTRIN: It's that feeling of, like, you know, on TikTok or on Facebook or Instagram, that rush of random short videos, one after the other on a loop we all are just drawn to on our phones. I guess I'm wondering if you - do you see that as a compliment or as a dis? I mean, do you see this as a mirror of the moment we're living in right now?

ORONO: I think the songs kind of sound like that because we were feeling kind of overwhelmed with the internet, which we kind of grew up on and love. I feel like it's morphed into, like, this weird algorithm monster now, and it's totally different from, like, the internet that we grew up with, I feel like.

ESTRIN: There is this track, the first track on your album, "Black Hole Baby."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK HOLE BABY")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: There you go. That is Superorganism.

ELTON JOHN: This is Elton John, the Superorganism, really recommend that one.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Josh tell me, did you like it?

ESTRIN: In this song, you hear actually audio clips of people in the music industry saying how much they love your band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK HOLE BABY")

BOB BOILEN: From NPR Music, anyone else love this band as much as me?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Superorganism, check them out.

ESTRIN: And then later in the album, there is another song, "Put Down Your Phone." People can guess what that's about. And it talks about what it's like to be constantly bombarded by everybody's thoughts about you online. So talk about this new internet. I mean, how do you handle all this attention, all your online fans and commenters?

ORONO: Delete Instagram. Delete as many social media apps as you can. But the kind of unfortunate nature of being a musician nowadays is that you kind of have to be an influencer in a way. It's not just about making music. You kind of have to, you know, brand yourself and put content up on a regular basis. You know, it's not really just about the music now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE")

SUPERORGANISM: (Singing) Right. Did you put on a few pounds? I bet you got paid so much. Well, I mean, you know, it's really complicated...

ESTRIN: As a lead singer of a band in your early 20s with this music that just mirrors this strange internet world we're living in, you know, what would you tell our listeners who maybe are a little bit older than you?

ORONO: I would just be like, I hope you like this record. If you don't, that's fine. I don't really care.

ESTRIN: I mean, there is a lot of retro in this album, isn't there? It feels like there's a lot of '80s, '90s, you know, even early 2000s.

ORONO: Oh, yeah. I mean, I feel like that's, like, our main inspo. I mean, for me at least, I grew up with a lot of, like, '90s music because of my parents. So we actually get a good mix of, like, age ranges at our shows.

ESTRIN: Sweet.

ORONO: And we get a lot of dads with their daughters. And that's, like, my favorite thing to see because my dad would take me to shows and festivals and stuff, and that was, like, my favorite memories from growing up. So it's cool that I'm kind of setting up similar experiences for people.

ESTRIN: And what does your dad think about this new album?

ORONO: He's like, I mean, it's not for me, but it's cool. You know, he's a Japanese dad, so he's not going to very clearly be like, I love your new record. It's so great and amazing. He's never going to do that, but I'm pretty sure he's proud of me.

ESTRIN: Well, congratulations on your new album, and thanks for being here.

ORONO: Thank you very much.

ESTRIN: That's Orono of the band Superorganism. Their latest album is called "World Wide Pop."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYTHING FALLS APART")

SUPERORGANISM: (Singing) Yeah, and everything falls apart except for us. Everything falls apart, just falls apart, just falls apart. Except for us. Everything falls apart, just falls apart, just falls apart. Except for us. Everything falls apart. Just falls apart. Everything falls apart except for us. Everything falls apart, just falls apart. Everything falls apart. Hey there, dude, thanks for the edibles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.
Ian (pronounced "yahn") Stewart is a producer and editor for Weekend Edition and Up First.

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