The internet’s buzziest band/mysterious avant-garde sound collective is fronted by a recent and disarmingly pleasant Maine prep school grad.
From our October 2017 issue.
By Brian Kevin
“Who Is Superorganism And Why Is This Song So Addicting?” read one indie-music blog headline earlier this year. Proclaimed another: “Transatlantic pop machine Superorganism are 2017’s first big pop curveball, but who are they really?”
A hooky, synth-y, distortion-heavy single called “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” was blowing up the internet and indie radio, and the only clue as to its creators was a line from the email that first circulated it: “Hey there i’m your average 17yr old japanese girl living in Maine. my 7 friends from london and i are in this really cool band . . .” The note was signed “Orono.” Online music geeks suspected a pseudonym — Orono, of course, being a college town in Maine.
After its debut, “Something For Your M.I.N.D.” was yanked from the web for an unlicensed sample. The band (legally) re-released it this month.
But 17-year-old Orono Noguchi is quite real and (over Skype, anyway) none too enigmatic, now living in London (somewhat resignedly) with her 20- and 30-something bandmates after graduating from Bangor’s John Bapst prep school this spring. Her parents met at UMaine in the ’90s, a pair of visiting Japanese students who liked the school’s setting so much they named their firstborn after it. Orono, who sings with a sleepy deadpan lilt, is Superorganism’s primary vocalist and de facto public face, seeing as the only image the band circulated for the better part of a year was a self-portrait she made for art class.
The success of the single took Superorganism by surprise. “We weren’t really expecting much,” Orono says, “but then a couple of bigger music blogs shared it, Frank Ocean played it, and it just started snowballing from there.”
A few well-received singles later, Superorganism just wrapped production on an album and “went public” with a website and some interviews. In October, the band will “reveal the (wo/)men behind the magic,” according to promos for its first live show, in London. Orono has never played for an audience (she professes to be “super awkward”), but she’ll soon take the stage in Manchester, Hamburg, NYC, and Los Angeles. Then, in December, a visit to Maine — but alas, just for a visit, not for a show. Still adjusting to London, Orono says she misses the landscape, Acadia, the cold, and New England accents.
“I was very excited about going to Maine, and I went when I was 14,” she says. “It’s a really great place for students, because there’s nothing there — it’s all, like, nature and the quiet.”
Hear Orono Noguchi make some noise on Spotify.