“You take one hat off, you put another hat on,” said composer, musician, and producer Stuart Bogie. Right now, he’s putting most of his energy into his latest project, Superhuman Happiness, who will be playing at Eclectic this Saturday night.
Bogie’s no newbie to the New York music scene. In the 10 years since he moved to Brooklyn from his hometown of Chicago, he’s played horns for TV on the Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Foals.
“As a session musician, sometimes you find yourself next to the creative spark,” Bogie said. “And you think, ‘Holy shit!’ I was there when that happened.”
His work as a session musician inspired the creation of Superhuman Happiness.
“I was working on so many records that were so close to what I wanted to be doing,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Man, I’ve just got to start making the music that I’m hearing and feeling.’”
Bogie first gained visibility as conductor, arranger, and composer for Antibalas, a collective in the style of afrobeat-progenitor Fela Kuti’s band, Africa ’70. How a man from the Midwest became the leader of a world music band may seem puzzling to some, but Bogie’s answer is terribly poetic:
“If your heart thirsts for a sound, that thirst becomes a powerful gravitational pull,” he said. “It’s irrefutable and undeniable, and it breaks through any cultural barriers. They say that converts make the biggest zealots.”
After returning from touring with Antibalas, Bogie set to work on the first Superhuman Happiness release, the 2008 EP “Fall Down Seven Times Stand Up Eight.” He said he wrote the CD himself, using songs that he had composed seven years earlier.
The EP features the funky afrobeat sound Bogie made his name on; by comparison, the new Superhuman Happiness single, “GMYL,” sounds rather mainstream in its thoughtful, but still danceable, electro-pop. Both “GMYL” and its fantastic B-side, “The Hounds,” feature vocals, unlike six of the seven tracks on “Fall Down Seven Times Stand Up Eight.”
Bogie said the new pop sound is a consequence of the medium.
“The avenue we’ve taken is that of the 45 [rpm record], so you only have three and a half minutes for your song,” he said. “If you want the chorus to have the emotional properties of a chorus, and you want there to be passages that have some poetry to them, it all works out to sound more like traditional pop music.”
Bogie’s new sound is frequently compared to indie rock. While on tour with Iron and Wine, he played his new single for the proprietor of an Amsterdam record store.
“He said, ‘So this is like New York indie pop, like Vampire Weekend.’ And I was like, ‘Well, shit.’”
However, Bogie is not aiming for one particular audience.
“We’re trying to make an honest reflection of life,” he said. “The sounds that we’re excited about have to do with the lives we’re living together right now. We’re not viewing our music in terms of history; what we’re trying to do is create melodies and rhythms that bring our hearts joy.”
Neo Sora ’13 invited the band to Wesleyan because of his friendship with its drummer, Miles Arntzen, who is also the leader of the opening act EMEFE.
“I think it’s going to be like a dance party, but even better because the music will be live,” Sora said.
So what should we expect from Superhuman Happiness?
“Expect dancing, joy, and for new things to happen,” Bogie said. “New for you, new for us.”
Superhuman Happiness will be playing at the Eclectic Society on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $2.