Perth hip-hop collective SUPEREGO spoke to Purple Sneakers about their latest album, their sonic evolution, and everything in between.
Hailing from Walyalap/Fremantle, the experimental hip-hop collective SUPEREGO uncovers a riveting auditory journey with their highly-anticipated debut album, Who Are You Hiding From? which dropped on June 15th.
The album transcends genre boundaries, blending elements of rap, electronic, soul, and punk to curate a pulsating, dynamic soundscape imbued with quintessential SUPEREGO nuances.
Renowned for their profound influence on the underground scene of Australian alternative hip-hop, SUPEREGO boasts a history of sharing stages with stalwarts such as Midnight Oil, Sampa The Great, REMI, and Blackalicious.
This acclaim is further solidified by their triumph at the West Australian Music Awards, securing titles for the Most Popular New Act and Live Act.
Standing on the brink of legend status, SUPEREGO is an unstoppable force in pioneering innovative music. Their 11-track debut is an eloquent testament to the richness and diversity of Australian alternative music and hip-hop, brought to life with guest features from revered Australian artists including Cruz Patterson, Mali Jo$e, and POOKIE.
Discussing the focal track You Don’t Even Know, SUPEREGO explains, “This track captures an acute and antithetical emotional episode one goes through when facing this obstacle of self-rediscovery. A sequence of indignation, wrath and uncertainty followed by sombre, quiet and still moments."
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"The inner whiplash exhausts you to a point of momentary failure, leaving you wondering how & when you’ll ever find yourself again. Grappling with self-worth and your feminine or masculine insecurities.”
The album is “a broad meditation over 11 disparate songs, exploring shades of love and relationships, the future plight of us and the generations to come, on the drive to make something of ourselves, a snapshot of time - wrestling with identity and the world we occupy.”
They add, “It's a beacon, a satellite shot into orbit to hear something back.”
To celebrate the recent release of Who Are You Hiding From?, we had a chat with SUPEREGO about their origin story, their musical evolution, the inspiration behind their latest album, and everything in between.
PS: SUPEREGO, what’s the origin story? For those unfamiliar, how did you each meet each other and what compelled you all to create music together? Can you recall a particular moment when the unification of the collective became official?
S: We formed in 2015 under the name POW! Negro, which is now our MC Nelson’s solo project. 3 of us, Lachy (rapper/ producer), Rhys (Vox/producer) & Nelson (vox) went to high school together in Fremantle (John Curtin).
We met Toby aka Blunderland (vox/ producer), through a mutual high school friend and we met Kaprou (producer/saxophonist) through a local jam session that was run by some of the members of Koi Child.
Nelson was asked to play a solo set but was encouraged by Rhys that this was the perfect opportunity to start the band we’d been fantasising about making since highschool.
We had 2 weeks to make a set and gather everyone together, we can remember it being fun but probably sounding pretty awful. We all got along and enjoyed playing together and we’ve continued to create together and grow from there.
PS: The new album Who Are You Hiding From? is upon us. In light of this, we’ve been wondering, what or who are you actually hiding from? Is it rhetorical, or is there a figurative answer to the question posed by the title of the LP?
S: The title ticks a few boxes for us. I read it as hiding from ourselves; from creative expression, from familial or hereditary influences, from our identity as a collective and history as Australians.
I like that it asks a question of the audience as well - we want them to be reflective along with us.
PS: In a recent radio interview, you expressed that this album is the successor to your 2020 EP Nautilus - What’s changed since the release of that EP and how does Who Are You Hiding From? build upon the ideas presented on Nautilus?
S: If Nautilus was poking our head through the crack in the door, Who Are You Hiding From is breaking it down Jack Torrance style (see: The Shining).
We pushed ourselves way more creatively on this album, songwriting and production-wise. We’ve made an album that explores and smashes together genres in a way that feels very fitting for 2023. It’s less negatively self-critical than Nautilus in my eyes as well.
Through the writing of the album, we really got a strong idea of who we are as a collective.
PS: As a collective with five different individuals with your own artistic merit and experiences, what is one album which unites you all under one roof?
S: Maybe Madvillany.
PS: Can you explain why? Do elements of Madvillany appear on Who Are You Hiding From?
S: It’s maybe the coolest hip-hop album ever made. That whole album has so much character and references such a range of music. So many brilliant samples.
I feel when we explore different genres and sonic textures, we’re sampling in a way. Madvillany is such a collage of an album sonically and I think Who Are You Hiding From is similar in that, though in different ways. It’s like a sonic Pick n’ Mix.
PS: You describe this album as “a beacon, a satellite shot into orbit to hear something back.” Does this return to form feel like a foundational reset in some ways?
S: Definitely in some ways. We’ve been making music for quite a while now and there’s been a solid shift in our sound since we started. There’s a lot of people hearing us for the first time now as well which is really exciting.
We have a complicated relationship with our older music. I think we wanted to show where we are now and how much we have grown.
PS: It’s often discussed that you’ve transitioned from a traditional band on stage to a more elevated live performance, implementing more electronic elements to the set. What was the biggest complexity in building out the set to accommodate for the transient sounds of SUPEREGO?
S: It’s been a journey! Finding the right balance between live instruments, which provide stage energy, and everything electronic, which makes these songs hit sonically has been really challenging.
Like the album, the live set moves around a lot in that sense. Most of us aren’t big gear or tech guys, so figuring out how to make stuff translate and slap live has been a lot of trial and error.
Lachy has been the driving force in that stuff in a lot of ways. It’s really important to us to have a huge live show, maintaining that has always been priority #1.
PS: Naked Religion is a particularly interesting track and collaboration off the LP with Pookie. Can you take us through the studio session and how it all came together?
S: Naked Religion was produced by Rhys and for us it’s the biggest curve ball in the record in terms of vibe.
It was the last track to be finished for the album mainly because it took us a while to figure out the right person to feature on the verse. We had a few other potentials but POOKIE was someone we really wanted to work with for a while and the stars aligned with her being in Boorloo (Perth) and keen!
Her and another good friend of ours, Sepsi came through to our studio in Freo and smashed out the verse over some wine in about an hour or so. It was a super relaxed and fun session. We ended up getting pretty turnt and jovial afterwards at a Lazer Gator show.
PS: The process of making an album can take artists to various locations and places. Can you contextualize the key place(s) recording and mixing took place?
S: Rhys and Toby moved into a share-house in Walyalup (Fremantle) and created a pretty cozy studio out the back, so the majority of the record was created there mid 2021-late 2022.
That was the hub through it all. No idea how our housemate Henry put up with it all. We spent a couple of days south of Boorloo (Perth) near a place called Gnomesville (yep, actual gnomes live there), doing vocals and finishing of tracks.
When we were ready to mix the record we, decided to work with the legendary Antonia Gauci who works in Bulanaming (Marrickville, NSW), so we flew over for 4 days to finish it off with her.
PS: We hope to hear more from SUPEREGO post this debut album. Can we expect anything else on the horizon whether it be solo projects, touring, or other creative projects anytime soon?
S: It’s been exhausting to get this album over the line, but making music together is something that we all love. I hope we make more as SUPEREGO.
We’re broke as hell but hopefully can find a way to tour over east! Nelson (POW! Negro) is always painting and creating. Plus he and Kaprou + Ben Aguero are Myriad Sun and should release some more stuff.
Another Blunderland EP is getting finished. Lachy is making a game which is so fucking cool. We’re pushing Rhys to release some of his solo stuff because it's incredible - I know we’re all excited just to create again.