It's a Friday night at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and local electro-pop band Super Stereo is getting ready to take the stage. The five 20-somethings (two gals and three guys) in the group are wearing sunglasses and coordinated gray-and-white outfits. They look crisp, clean, and cool, as if they're on some sort of mission. Considering the band calls their music "futurepop," it all makes sense.
As today's pop stars concern themselves with the size of their breasts or entourages, Super Stereo defines the next movement of the genre by creating an all-inclusive environment, unifying listeners and letting them know that no matter what their skin color, sexual orientation, or class, they're all invited to the party.
"Futurepop is electronic dance music with human themes and a wide range of emotions," says bass player Statz. "It's also a stylistic thing, where you're accepting of people's styles, and an attitude thing, where you're positive and accepting of people. It's not just music, it's an ethos — it's a way of thinking."
In addition to Statz, Super Stereo includes PM (vocals/guitar/vocals), T (vocals/synth/tambourine), Lo (vocals/synth), and B3K (drums/programming). The group just released its self-produced debut album, This Is Futurepop, in February, but has already garnered a national buzz with the help of MTV.
After signing with local label Fervor Records last year (PM started out as a songwriter for the label), the band flew to New York last fall to shoot a slick video for "Life Passed Me By," a song that pulses with digital snare and soars on a melodic, dreamy chorus.
Since debuting on MTV.com in February, the video has amassed more than 100,000 views and is ranked second on MTVu.com. Fervor's connections with the network, through licensing its artists' songs to TV shows, helped expedite the process, but Fervor CEO David Hilker isn't surprised the band caught on so quickly.
"What attracted me to the band is they have a broad appeal," Hilker says. "Little kids dig them, and they're kind of embraced by the hipsters. And with their retro-synth sound, they have people who dig '80s [music]. I also was attracted to them because of their strong work ethic. They're not afraid to . . . tour and work hard."
Yep, little kids even like them. The band has played everything from a kids' show to DJ sets to dive bars, often appearing with bands outside their genre because, the band says, the electro-pop scene in the Valley is still emerging. Their music has found even more national exposure, though, by appearing on TV shows such as Parks and Recreation and, next month, The Real L Word.
And it's all been a whirlwind since the band formed two years ago. The members found each other through social networking, bonding over a desire to launch a project that was about more than simply music. They discussed stimulating visuals and a strong message, too. The band's members say the chemistry they feel with each other has kept them strong. They're already writing a sophomore album and have plans for a West Coast tour this summer.
"I think, internally, one of the reasons this band works is there are a lot of different minds — kind of like a unit, where we all have our jobs; kind of like a space shuttle team," Lo says, explaining the influence that space and science have on Super Stereo's vision and lyrics. "And I feel like having two females in the band is pretty unique — and super-helpful if I ever forget my eye shadow at home."
Super Stereo's choreographed live shows are fun to watch. That's why Ignite Phoenix music manager Erika Delemarre decided to book the band for a show at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. "You can tell they truly enjoy what they're doing, and their positive energy is contagious," Delemarre says.
Delemarre also points out the impressive online marketing skills of the group. "The band members regularly blog about engaging topics that relate to their music, shows and fans, and frequently post funny behind-the-scenes video clips that keep their audience captivated," Delemarre says. "Between the blogs, videos and Tweets, the futurepop stars have developed a transparency that reveals they're all just ordinary 20-somethings with extraordinary passion to do creative things and share their music with the world."
The band is branching out from music even more with an upcoming comic book detailing the origin of the band. They plan on releasing follow-up issues about each member.
Super Stereo has lofty goals. They hope to be the biggest band to ever come out of Arizona. Considering the group can pack such venues as The Rogue, Rhythm Room, and Yucca Tap Room (which they'll play Saturday, July 9, for the venue's first all-ages show) with a diverse group of fans, it doesn't seem unattainable. Fervor Records co-owner and co-president Jeff Freundlich says the band's story keeps snowballing, thanks in part to their energetic performances.
"Their live show is killer," Freundlich says. "It's really like a big party. It's just guys and girls dancing their asses off. If you like that kind of thing and want to be a part of that, that's exactly what Super Stereo is."
And though it's as simple as getting people to shake their booties in unison, it's that kind of positive group thinking the band hopes to achieve. "Futurepop is dance music to get people to dance all together, from any walk of life, because when you're dancing, you're having a good time," Lo says. "We want people to forget their troubles, their everyday stress, and dance and be happy."
And if that's the future of pop, it sounds like a very fun place to be.