A Guide to Brooklyn with Superhuman Happiness in Brooklyn, New York
Judging from online live videos, a Superhuman Happiness show seems to play out like a well-rehearsed jam session or intimate dance party where the strangers beside you become your dance partners. This Brooklyn band experiments with everything from rock to funk. They break free from any one genre and instead create a sound of their own, waiting for the right minds to accept it and the right bodies to dance to it. In this interview, Superhuman Happiness gets real about the economics of making it in the music industry and loving the highs and lows of life in a band.
Members: Eric Biondo, Andrea Diaz, Sam Levin, Stuart Bogie
What is a perfect day in Brooklyn? Times in the park, a walk down a street seeing families from all around the world going about their day, a conversation with a stranger from a different country, drinks with friends, an amazing slice of pizza, hearing a great band play, dancing at a loft party somewhere in a warehouse district.
If Brooklyn was a person or character who would it be? Brooklyn would be a god that threw giant clouds of emotion upon masses of people: fear, hope, ambition, confusion, and whatever that feeling is when a bird craps on you.
What is the best thing about your city? Brooklyn has a long and rich cultural history. Artists from all the country, and the world, have traveled there to develop their work and commune with other artists. People like Chris Speed, Jim Black, Talib Kweli, Guru (of Gangstar), bands like TV on the Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Antibalas, all of these people came to Brooklyn to pursue artistic callings that could be incubated by a combination of the lower rents and large population of creative people.
What is the worst? The factors discussed above are diminishing as the rents skyrocket and many creative people are driven out. With little civic organization (compared to other places like Berlin) artist communities have little defense against the monied interests that are pushing them out of their neighborhoods.
What are some of your favorite places to tour? Southern France, West Africa, Japan, California, Vermont, Buffalo, and New Orleans.
What’s the hardest thing about being in a band? The economics. In order to operate you need a certain amount of capital without which you simply struggle to get above water. With file sharing and streaming replacing record sales, there are no longer organizations to offer musicians start up funds. At the same time, the musicians are expected by industry standard to cover most of the related expenses themselves.
What’s the best thing about being in a band? Making music on and off stage. Creating music in the studio and playing on stage are very different and stimulating experiences. Both are rewarding in different ways.
Which city has the best crowd and why? Every town is different for everybody! We love Brooklyn because our friends are there, but we also love to play in Burlington, Vermont. The audience has a culture of music appreciation and you can feel that from them, you can see it in their eyes when you play. Paris is the same.
What has surprised you the most about touring? How much planning it requires.
What inspires your songwriting? The infinite collective soul of the universe reveals particular aspects of sound and words to us. We try and organize those revelations in ways that sound like songs. It doesn’t always work out.
What does the band like to do for fun while on the road? Every now and again we catch a movie, or see a sight like Niagara Falls outside of Buffalo. We like to go dancing and hang out after shows. We travel with a comedian, Eric Biondo, who keeps us entertained.
What’s your favorite way to interact with fans, before, during and after the show? Before: With recorded music. During: With live music. After: Hugs! And the thumbs up crooked elbow handshake that dudes do. Anytime: Although Facebook seems such a disconnected way to connect it’s very handy staying in touch with folks from around the world.
What is the most useful career advice you’ve received? Lots of people have said “Do what you love to do.” And you really can’t be happy in the music business without loving the struggle and enjoying the high times.
If you could tour with any band or artist from any time in history, who would it be? Paganini, but that’s not accounting for the smells. Maybe Tansen, Rick James, Charles Mingus, ELO.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? We collect ourselves and say a few words of gratitude before we hit the stage.
How do you get oriented in a new city? Find a good coffee shop.
Which bands/artists are you listening to these days? Craig Finn, Autre Neut Ve, Caribou, Beyondo, Antibalas, Santigold, Rubblebucket, Will Butler, Alan Hampton, Colin Stetson, Hearing Things.
Brooklyn photos by Kristian Cruz.