slenderbodies: 'superpowerful', Searching for Novelty, and Sharing the Meaning of Songs
By: Ezzah Rafique | February 13, 2021
Photo of Max Vehuni and Benji Cormack by Alex Parker
It's no doubt that the indie-pop duo, slenderbodies, know how to beautifully create a dream-like sound through indie and electronic rhythms. Max Vehuni and Benji Cormack talk to ORENDA MEDIA about the creation of slenderbodies, exploring new sounds, and their singles 'superpowerful' and 'cherry blossom'.
Check out the interview below...
When creating you both met and decided to create music as a duo, did you guys always know what type of sound you wanted to create?
We met about 3 years prior to forming slenderbodies when we were freshman in college. We made all different styles of music personally and shared it with each other as friends, and this breadth of work I think lent itself to forming slenderbodies. When Max came to me with the first couple songs, I could hear parts of his past projects as well as my own in it, so it was easy to pursue. We also started the duo with limitations, which were 1.) only use guitar, bass, vocals and drums and 2.) sing in falsetto. These limitations helped us hone in on what we wanted to create.
How did you guys decide on the name slenderbodies? Were there other names y'all were considering?
Slenderbodies is actually an anagram of Nobles Desired, which was the sign that was always hung on the tree farm by my house in Santa Cruz. For some reason, they were always looking for that kind of tree to sell right before the holidays. It was late fall when we began the project, and we saw the sign a lot and one of the demos we had named ‘nobles desired’. We wanted to find a way to include it in the project, so we developed the anagram slenderbodies!
How would you describe your creative process especially with the two newer singles 'superpowerful' with Crooked Colours and 'cherry blossom'?
This project started with a lot of limitations, so this album has been all about breaking those rules. 'Cherry blossom' specifically was made using a ton of granular synthesis and 'superpowerful' is sang using a lot of full voice rather than falsetto. We went into the creative process without a concept, as we had with other records, and more of a mind to let the songs speak for themselves and inspire each individual story.
With 'superpowerful', how was the collaborative aspect for y'all especially with the majority of things being remote?
Working remotely is something we’re actually really comfortable with, this project began with sending projects back and forth using google drive. We used audiomovers’ listento so we could stream the daw in high def to Crooked Colours, so the process was really seamless from where we sit. There really wasnt much of an issue at all, if anything remote sessions allow everyone the space and time to develop ideas as they see fit, and present them to the rest of the group.
What was your favorite part about creating 'superpowerful', how do you want fans to interpret the song? What about 'cherry blossom'?
For both songs I think the joy really came together when they sat amongst the other songs that will be coming out soon. To hear that it feels cohesive and fresh was so incredible. As for interpretation, we want people to interpret in whatever way they feel passionate and connected to the track. I often think of Salman Rushdie’s quote, “Be sure that you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find yours” when I think about sharing the meaning of songs with an audience.
You guys add this really interesting dynamic in your music where each song deliberately has its own feel and groove, how important is it to y'all to create that type of sound?
I think we are always searching for novelty, something that makes us attached to a song in a way that is unique from everything else we make. We want to explore the world we’ve created with sound, while still making it feel cohesive. So in short, very important!
If you're ever in a creative rut, where do you guys pull your inspiration from?
We were just talking about this with our friend Lani Rose the other day. We believe a lot in input vs output, like the need of new experiences or information to be able to make new things. When put in this context, watching a film or documentary, speaking to an old friend, or practicing an instrument until a new skill or pattern is unlocked can all contribute to this. At the same time, stepping away and incubating music while working on another creative outlet, like drawing or photography can also help loosen up the mind.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live or a song you're looking forward to performing live when touring starts back up?
Cannot wait to play one of the unreleased upcoming songs with the world. All we’ll say is it has citrus in the name.
Is anyone y'all worked with whom you learned a lot from or left a long-lasting impression on you?
We talk a lot about how our biggest teachers is each other. I think if I was to name one thing that makes slenderbodies special it would be that aspect. We are always moving, growing and exploring within different facets of sound, and we are able to learn and grow in tandem with each other through communication and a sort of creative osmosis.
Lastly, what can fans expect from slenderbodies this year? Do y'all have plans to release more music?
More music, more videos, more livestreams :)