Meet Orono Noguchi, The 17-Year-Old Who Fronts A Fascinating Noise-Pop Collective Called Superorganism

Jordan Hughes

For Orono Noguchi, the 17-year-old frontwoman of the frenetic noise-pop collective Superorganism, knowing when she wanted to devote her life to making music came young. “I remember being about 3 or 4 years old, sitting in the backseat of my parent’s car heading to preschool with my mom,” she said recently via a phone interview. “It took an hour to get there and on the drive, I would watch Weezer videos, some live videos and School of Rock on repeat. I would just stare at Rivers Cuomo and Jack Black fucking rocking out on stage with their guitars — and I was like that’s what I want to do when I grow up.”

Last week Orono, along with her seven bandmates, experienced the thrill of releasing their debut album into the world via Domino Records. But since our convo came before the release date, we talked about her recent move to London, performing on Jools Holland in front of Noel Gallagher (“he actually said some nice thing about us”) and of course, music.

Orono, Emily, Harry, Tucan, Robert Strange, Ruby, B, and Soul have only been touring for a few months playing to sold out-industry packed crowds and are already receiving comparisons to MGMT, Vampire Weekend and Gorillaz.

I was curious about how Orono is balancing everything that’s going on while staying creative and energized. The answer was simple — more art; in addition to her songwriting skills, Orono is also a painter and works closely with bandmate Robert Strange creating videos and artwork for the album.

“Everyone on the band is on a very similar creative wavelength and we all hope for the same outcome,” she explained. “We have discussions about how things should look and talk about cool stuff we’re watching, or a cool GIF we found. With the abstract songs, we talk about potential ideas for the visuals. Doing all of the artwork for the band I work closely with Robert and together, we work in a way that’s kinda hard to explain.”

And it works.

Robert Strange’s direction for the video of their first single, “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” playfully recreates how the band met, via Youtube’s Recommends before meeting up in Tokyo and deciding to create a record together. The video follows an unseen viewer googling “Orono Superorganism” which is hilarious since there were some early rumors about whether or not Orono was a real person. Their two videos are examples of the current cultural climate where having an “influential” social account can make you famous overnight.

This could easily make someone jaded, but it hasn’t seemed to have that effect Orono who instead seems to be relishing the whole experience. Like any musician, she is excited to have her band mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine, a publication she grew up idolizing while living in Toyko.

“In my tweens, I was really obsessed with the Disney Channel, Glee and stuff like that, and would ask my Dad to get me TigerBeat or some teen magazine… and those were my favorite things,” she remembered. “Then I moved on to like Rolling Stone when I was obsessed with indie music like Vampire Weekend and MGMT. We did the photo shoot and the interview last week. I am going to tell Domino US to send me a copy because, yeah… I need that shit.”

Our chat ebbs and flows, powered by her joyful voice and excitement except for when we talk about the lonely experience of moving to a new city, far from family and friends.

“Technically I live here [in London], but it doesn’t really feel like I live here because I don’t really have friends outside of the band or anything,” she said. “If you ask me what my favorite spot is it would probably be the park nearby.”

It’s a feeling anyone who has moved away from home for the first time can experience, but like anyone who is going through something, she has been turning to music and checking out live shows with bandmates Emily and Harry. Most notably, Car Seat Headrest.

“I’m gonna be honest when I first started listening to him, I was very dismissive,” Orono admits. “I wasn’t aware of his Bandcamp days, but then I got to go to his gig in London and it was the best thing ever. I was so happy [at the show] cause I was kinda bummed out and confused with the whole moving to London with a bunch of people and it was stressing me out. I remember just going to that gig and after the show I was like, ‘wow, I am so happy right now.’”

It’s the same feeling I’m sure many people will experience listening to Superorganism for the first time. Their songs are adeptly constructed with soaring melodies and cascading harmonies, and the record flows from one track into the next seamlessly and it feels both fresh and nostalgic at the same time.

Orono writes music on the go, jotting down ideas and lines on her phone — living her life like any typical teenager does, but together with Emily, Harry, Tucan, Robert Strange, Ruby, B and Soul her art lives a life of its own, the life of a Superorganism. Whatever that may be exactly is beside the point — their music makes you feel warm, joyful, entertained and optimistic and we could all use more of that right now.

Superorganism is out now via Domino Records. Get it here.