Take your protein pills and put your helmet on: Memba is taking its epic spaceship Saga EP series on a second plantary adventure.
Memba is part of Odesza‘s Forein Family Collective, and it goes with the territory that the New York-based production duo takes its visual conceptualism very seriously. Its Saga EP trilogy hones in on specific feelings via a fictional parallel universe. It began with 2018’s Saga-I, a three-track exploration of maximalist sounds, what members Ishaan Chaudhary and Will Curry described as “aggressive and loud.” Its story centered around a fictional, vice-ridden planet whose inhabitants gave in to all desires, good or evil, until their souls were spent.
Saga-II is instead a place of peace and innocence where childlike beings play and create without fear of judgement or failure, creatures who dedicate their life to art for art’s sake — because life can not last forever, and so one must make the most of it while one can. It’s a lesson the guys internalized during Saga-II‘s two-year gestation, and turning it over to the public is one of the most vulnerable but proud moments of their career.
The EP is paired with a 13-minute visualizer that aims to bring these concepts and emotions to life. Chaudhary and Curry filmed it with a small team, including Odesza creative director Sean Kusanagi, who Memba called “one of the most talented and creative people we’ve ever worked with in our lives” and cinematographer Jasper Newton, who also works closely with Odesza.
It’s shot across locations including India, Seattle, and NYC, and you can check it out below, but first, read through our track-by-track breakdown of the EP with Chauhary and Curry.
“1 More Mile”
Chaudhary: We wrote this one as the soundtrack to the arrival of Saga-II. It’s weird writing music, because you get an idea that comes from who knows where, and then you just start hunting it down and trying to make it. This song was a soundtrack to that experience of making something new and setting a beginning tone for the rest of the EP.
Curry: It’s trading from epic to pretty, rhythmic and spicy on the chorus. It’s a good contrast for that song, too — a smooth, epic orchestral build up, then some crazy poly-rhythmic drums at the chorus. It’s just fun.
Chaudhary: A cornerstone of our sound together, even though we’re all over the place, is this strong world influence… It’s soulful and spiritual, and it fits the tone of what we’re trying to talk about.
”Walls Down” (w/ EVAN GIIA)
Chaudhary: That one was really fun. We write with Emmy (Giarrusso) all the time, and this is a growth of our sound. It’s a powerful one. We were imagining her parallel self in Saga-II and trying to make a song for that character, which you’ll see in the video.
Curry: It honestly took two years to make. The first time we made it, it was cool and it was slower tempo.
Chaudhary: It was a good drop, but it wasn’t quite amazing.
Curry: I played it for Emmy, and she sang over it, and then it just sat for about half a year.
Chaudhary: We were playing it out in our shows for like a year.
Curry: As we were doing Saga-I, we were making crazier music; maximalist, aggressive and loud. I listened to that song again, and it felt like we needed to go crazier on it. That’s how it turned into that hype drop situation.
Chaudhary: When we played it out at shows, the crowd was down with it, but it wasn’t one you’d remember when you went home after the show. We’re trying to make songs that do that, so we went back in, and I’m so happy we did, because the second one claps. We used to go in the crowd, which is really fun. We get the actual experience and hear our productions in another way which is really dope.
Curry: It just feels like the soundtrack to that freedom we’re talking about. It really hammers in that it’s like flying through the sky.
Chaudhary: I’m really pumped for you guys to see the video, because I think the video is gonna really show it better than us saying it.
Chaudhary: Will noodled around on the guitar for a while, then chopped it up and we got that line. Sufi music has been something I’ve really loved, growing up in India. I’ve always wanted a song like that, and it really fit the emotion of this EP. “Schools Out” served as a North Star for the entire EP. It captures the childhood innocence feeling best of any of the songs. That’s why we decided to go to India to shoot that music video.
We went to Mumbai to Dharavi, the second-largest slum in the world. There’s open sewers, and the government neglects it. It’s a very difficult place to live, but it’s incredible, the spirit of these kids. We were in that for two weeks with a bunch of local kids. We didn’t want to work with trained actors. We just wanted kids that were from there, just to keep it feeling real. It was a crazy experience, and Will’s first time in India.
Curry: It was a life-changing experience.
Chaudhary: We got mad sick though, as you do in India. Will had a pinched nerve, and I was throwing up. But we still were there for 12 hours a day. Now, having the video, it just feels very fulfilling. I’m so glad we did it, because that video will outlast us all.
Chaudhary: We’ve been experimenting vocally and trying to say things [with a] message. I wrote the lyrics, and Will sang it. We played around with harmonizing until we got it right. It’s about the fragility of memories and how memories are kind of all we have. They can go away with diseases like schizophrenia, all these sorts of things. They’re just fragile.
“Alright With Me” (feat. Ricky James)
Chaudhary: Yeah, Rigatoni. He’s a Brooklyn homey that we met at an ODESZA show when they played at Barclay’s in New York. We met him out there and started chatting. We got in the studio together and “Alright With Me” was the first thing we wrote. We just felt his lyrics fit the theme of the EP so well. That was a lucky one
[Ricky James] is Boston-Italian. He’s the type of person who puts a smile on your face, just funny and happy-go-lucky. We love going in the studio with him. His persona just fits the EP. We had to have a whole section dedicated to him in the EP movie.
Chaudhary: I faced death quite young, and it’s something that affected me a lot. I think about it all the time. I was just venting to Will about it a little bit, and then we started writing that song. Sometimes, it just all comes out in one go, and pretty much five hours later, this song was outlined to where it is now. We just mixed it up for a year, trying to get it to sound right. There’s just a lot of elements in it, which makes it little difficult, but that one was obviously really personal.
The filming was pretty interesting too. We went to Bainbridge Island just outside of Seattle. We were at this guy’s house that’s been working on his house his whole life, and it’s not finished. The doors are open and there is wind coming in, some of the bathrooms work and some of them don’t. It’s wild that he lives that way. He’s such a free spirit. You couldn’t have made a better set. We got this actor named Paul, an elderly fellow who’s never acted before, and he was incredible. He should have been acting his whole life. He was so stoic and really cared about what it was about.
Saga-II is out now on Foreign Family Collective. Memba say they’re sitting on a ton of new music, feeling an influx of creative energy in the wake of the Saga-II sessions. A few more singles are planned before the end of the year, as is a nation-wide bus tour with Hermitude and Jai Wolf, two artists of whom Memba are big fans. Look out for Memba on tour in 2019, and check out both the Saga-II EP and it’s companion video below.