Photo: Lonny Starsky

Q&A: Superdestroyer is anonymous but completely relatable on “I Don’t Even Know Who I’m Supposed to be Anymore” (BPM Premiere)

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Superdestroyer might not be making his identity known, but that doesn’t keep his music from hitting universal emotional nerves. In his new song, “I Don’t Even Know Who I’m Supposed to be Anymore,” he creates the feeling of empty confidence that comes with total awareness of your total cluelessness. And it’s all in under two minutes.

Accompanying the charismatic sounds of snotty vocals atop a mellow progression is a music video that’s like a testimony to why public access television must be revered as a legitimate art form. Superdestroyer isn’t looking for answers; he just wants you to vibe with his questions.

Superdestroyer is slated to release his new album Home Movies Are Time Travel August 14. Read some interview questions with him below.

Tell us about your upcoming release Home Movies Are Time Travel and the recording process, you home recorded “Home Movies” correct?

Yep that’s correct. I exclusively record at home, which I know has its ins and outs. Obviously, there are things that you can accomplish in a studio that you can’t necessarily accomplish easily—if at all–at home, but I personally find home recording to fit my chaotic writing process. Also, I think it also suits the project (Superdestroyer) well in regard to its sound and energy. Because I record at home, I’m afforded the luxury of sort of jamming with myself indefinitely without ever having to commit to any track within a song as an album moves along. Sometimes I’ll revise things months after I initially thought a song was finished, but because of the process I have and the people I work with, it doesn’t really inhibit the rest of the tracks moving forward or cost me extra, so I can move relatively quickly and cheaply which is important for me since I don’t have anyone else to split production costs with.  

For Home Movies, the album sort of came out of nowhere, really. I had a different totally finished album that that was in the early stages of the release process when I began working on Home Movies. I recorded the album in about a week and half in April. I was messing around on my guitar and came up with the riff for 1-800-GOLFTIPS and within a few hours I had recorded a rough version of the instrumental. When I did, I hadn’t really planned on doing anything with it, but I liked it and thought it could be cool to use in the future.

Wet Hot American Bummer was a re-record of a demo from 2017, so that is really where the idea of turning this into an album began for me. I had been wanting to re-record that song since I wrote it and I was quarantined and bored and thought, “I might as well”. I had recorded 1-800 the day before and I was having fun recording and figured I would keep messing around. I didn’t really expect it to inspire a whole album, but as soon as I finished recording that song, I had several song ideas popping into my head, so I just started recording them.

After about 5 days, I had the instrumentals mostly finished so I tracked vocals. ROCK$URF was the last song finished. It was a re-record of an old demo, but I hated the vocal melody I used, so I had planned for it to be an instrumental on this album. After listening through the album, I realized I didn’t want it to be nearly half instrumental so I probably tried out 7 versions of that song, with various lyrics and vocal melodies until I finally landed on one I liked. After I finished the initial versions of all of the songs, I went back through and re-recorded parts that I thought were weak or needed work. The very last thing I did was add backing vocals. I did those last because it helped me to listen to everything and see where I want emphasis, or harmonies, or areas that just need a stronger vocal presence.

A lot of what I do now really requires a lot of very patient friends who are willing to humor me and listen to various iterations of my songs. I try to make sure nothing is precious or sacred–any song can be cut or changed. I ask for legitimate feedback early on so that I can really get an understanding of how these songs sound to other people. Once you’ve heard anything 100+ times it’s really difficult to listen objectively, or even accurately, so their input really helped shape the album. Once I heard the finished product, I scrapped that other album I had planned on releasing and began working on getting this out instead.

-There are a lot of elements to the Superdestroyer sound, punk, electronic, pop, indie rock, how would you describe what you do and do you feel like it fits into one musical world more than another?

The best description I’ve found for what I do is “Post-Genre”. It doesn’t sound super cool and niche, which is a bummer, but it’s probably the most accurate label because it really captures my sound and intentions. I don’t really care about genre because I feel like it can be very constraining and stifle my ability to be creative–which isn’t to say that artists who stay within genres aren’t creative–but personally, if I set out to make a song within a specific genre, I’m going to immediately try to lean into some of the conventions that are inherent to that given genre.

For example, if I’m trying to make a pop song, I’m pretty much ruling out blast beats and yelling because I know once I add those things it’s delegitimized within the genre of pop. And that’s fine and I get that, and I don’t think people who like pop should have to like blast beats or whatever, but it’s also just not very fun or authentic to me as an artist. Instead, I’m interested in: what does this song evoke from me emotionally and intellectually, what am I trying to say, and how can I best capture it. I think lyrics are great for conveying emotion, but instruments and melodies are better. I try to focus on building the emotions on the sonic side of things and find lyrics that help connect some dots. So, I really let instrumentals just sort of go where they go based on how they make me feel. I hope that by doing things this way I’m able to capture the emotional side of things well in order to sort of examine the mundane and make it interesting and humanized. My goal is to capture the surreal and emotional nature of mundane, everyday life that we all experience and to try to relate to others through it. You don’t need to have some sort of movie-plot level love, chaos, tragedy, or whatever for your feelings to be real and valid, and for me its sort of therapeutic to explore the events that make me feel things in my everyday life.

If I were to tour though, I’d say I’d probably fit best into maybe a tour of punk or emo bands. I think energy-wise there’s a big overlap. I grew up in the punk and hardcore scenes so I think it would be the most easily recognizable there. I listen to electronic music and rap the most now though. I think rap in particular is so experimental and innovative. The artists making the instrumentals and performing vocals are so good at amalgamating multiple genres while remaining recognizable to fans of the genre. It’s really incredible how much talent resides under the wide-reaching label of “rap”. I find it pretty inspiring.

-We’ve heard you’re a pretty prolific artist, what else do you have in store for 2020?

Oh boy, yeah haha, I guess I can be. Since Home Movies was finished, I’ve recorded the majority of another album. I have all of the instrumentals mostly finished and all but 1 song has vocals, so I might release that this year. It’s a little darker than Home Movies but it’s in a similar style. I also hope to release a collaborative EP and a Halloween split. The songs for those already exist and are totally done other than some small production changes that we haven’t made yet. I’m not 100% sure of what will or won’t release this year but those are some projects that have been discussed.

Follow Superdestroyer on Twitter and Bandcamp.