Our music commentator Luke Graves recently sat down with the Internet’s own Bobbi Superbody for a glimpse into the glossy-pop purveyor’s creative process and thoughts on youth music, Tumblr fame, and more.
By Luke Graves
Your work seems to exist somewhere between the heyday of ‘80s pop music and Carly Rae Jepsen singles. In your own words, who/what/when/where is Superbody?
Superbody started out as a process between me and my friend Caleb [Dills] where we just wanted to do anything and felt like we were making creative pop music—whatever that meant. We wanted to be expressive and not follow any scene, or any subculture, and just took from what was inside of us. That's really what we were trying to do—figure out what we’re good at and whatever it means to be a band and make a bunch of stuff. That’s what Superbody is: just a great way to feed my ego and make things.
Would you mind sharing a bit about your background?
I have supportive and incredible parents that have always urged me to “follow my dreams” and “You can do whatever you set your mind to.” So I feel this obligation to give back to the artistic community, if I feel like I'm good at it right now in my twenties, because I have the rest of my life to have obligations, or put food on the table, and things to worry about other than my own ego and my own narcissistic self-worth.
If I could still do marching band and theater right now, I would. I really thought about going to local theater clubs because I love acting so much. You see that with Superbody. I don't want to make music if it's not a character, you know? Like, why am I on a stage if it’s not character-based? Otherwise I'm just another white dude playing a song right now. I want to entertain people. Anyways, you got me going.
When did you first know that you wanted to devote yourself to music and, specifically, this unique brand of “Poptimism?”
I just hung out with with a bunch of kids in marching band that also had a garage band, and I was the least cool kid so they made me play bass. It’s still my favorite instrument, and I still write songs on bass because that's what I started playing. I can't play guitar worth a shit. I can get by. I can sample myself playing guitar, but I can't play a guitar. I know all the chords, and I know how to do simple shit, but I rip a bass and that's still what I do.
Can you describe your creative process and what your newfound independence as a solo artist affords you?
For the past year, I've just been demoing a bunch of stuff and producing myself and then outsourcing to people that want to work with me—producers that take a whole new spin on my stuff. If I were to put out music that I produced myself right now, I would just be a complete rip-off of what me and Caleb did together, and I don't want to do that. I'm not the production guy. I'm trying to be a better songwriter and just focus and try to hone in on pop songwriting. That's not an exciting career arc for me, to forever be “the ‘80s guy.” I want to move forward and just become a pop songwriter. I was born in 1994, you know? I'm a child of YouTube. I don't know who the fuck I would be without YouTube, like culturally, or what I would be obsessed with. I’m obsessed with these maximalistic, big ‘80s videos and am just trying to become a better pop songwriter.
Your previous album, Youth Music, is largely centered around themes of love, identity, and adolescent romance. What themes and ideas are you currently exploring in your work?
Most of the songs I write are just ideas, but then I get excited for tropey pop songs. There are a few songs that I've written that are actually close to me. I'm just trying to move towards a more novelty pop feel. I have no interest in being on anybody's “Indie Mood” playlist or some shit like that. At this point, I just want to make Internet content.
Photo by Bobby Lee Palmer
How do you grapple with genre and nostalgia today, when any element of any particular culture is available at the click of a mouse, thanks to the Internet?
Tumblr was my big music thing—I ran a decently popular music/narcissistic selfie Tumblr when I was in college, where I helped blow up a lot of little Bandcamp bands. This is back in like 2011-2012. That was before Facebook had the Share button, and Retweets weren't as much of a thing as they are now, so Tumblr was really the place where people blew up overnight. It was the first, crazy exponential Internet that I was exposed to. So, I became obsessed with that and became obsessed with music, and I was like, 'okay, making music on the Internet—anything can happen to me any day.' I guess not really so much on Tumblr anymore, but still, I could go viral any day, you know what I'm saying? That gives me hope as an artist. If this were the ‘90s, or whatever, I would have more reassurance if I was signed to a label and had distribution and all this stuff. But as long as I display it properly on the Internet, my email is always open.
I’m just ranting, but I don't even know if that's my strong suit. Or that people even want me as this strong, masculine, flamboyant figure right now. I don't know if that's what pop culture wants right now. That's just what I'm trying to do with my life–I just want a job. I want the American Dream, and two-and-a-half kids, and the white picket fence. I just want to find my place in media, in pop culture, because that's what I'm obsessed with. And even more than the music, I'm obsessed with the marketing and PR side of it. I'm obsessed with how pop stars pull off the shit that they do. Just with each release, grabbing a whole new generation of 14-year-olds. That’s why I love pop music, because you’re speaking to the children, you’re speaking to teenagers. They’re the people who are putting money into music—those are the people who are obsessed with music. I wanted to recapture how obsessed with music I was when I was fourteen and fifteen.
Your music and visuals appear to pay homage to a number of different cultural touchstones—what’s exciting or influencing you at the moment?
I'm really inspired by Top 40 and the people that are actually changing culture and how we perceive pop music every day.
What’s next for Superbody?
I'm about to put up my new single soon, and I'm really excited about it. I got to work with some really incredible people on both the song and the video. It's a pretty big project, and I'm very, very excited about it. Hopefully it doesn’t fail. But if it does, I'll start over again just like I always do, and I’ll go from there. The only things that are creative to me in the modern world, you have to be sweating when you are about to post them, you have to be stressed out. I want to make sure that you have an immediate reaction, whether that be positive or negative. I want people to hate me, to be jealous of me. I want them to not like me, but I also want people to love me. I don't want everybody to love me, though—that's pointless. I want to make art that is polarizing because it takes a chance. That’s what I'm going to do with my new single.
Last question: what would be your dream collaboration, mortality not a factor?
Either A.G. Cook or Sophie from PC Music or the producer John Congleton. He's like my favorite producer in the world when it comes to indie and rock music. I would love to work with him.
Photo by Pierre Pastel
This conversation has been edited and condensed for your pleasure.
Watch, listen, and discover more from Superbody at superbodypop.com.
Luke Graves is a latchkey printmaker and occasional writer of words based in Nashville. See more from Luke.
This interview is brought to you by Original Fuzz Magazine. Find more articles in this month's magazine, here.