Sarsten Noice and Claire Morison are the dynamic duo behind Surprise Baby. Bringing together their individual skills as a musician, songwriter and producer, the two have concocted an addictive musical project. Built around the concept of self-discovery, Surprise Baby’s debut EP, Too Right, is an intimate and vulnerable listening experience, as they touch on tales behind their own experiences of self-growth, spirituality, and transformation.
Hailing from Northwest Montana and now based in Los Angeles, their roots and experiences have played a significant role in shaping their sound. We dig deeper into this, as the two open up about the journey they took on the lead up to this release. In this interview, we delve into the personal and artistic influences behind the EP, the therapeutic power of songwriting, and the significance of embracing honesty in their music.
Firstly, congratulations on the release of your debut EP, Too Right. The five-track release perfectly encapsulates your unique sound and covers some vulnerable and honest themes. How does it feel to finally have it out in the world?
It’s been a beautiful relief, honestly. This first EP has existed for so long just inside our heads and many different hard drives. We’re very proud of this collection of songs as a starting point, and are just as excited to keep working and releasing new material.
The EP touches on stories of self-growth, spirituality, and transformation. Can you discuss how these themes have personally influenced your journey as musicians and artists?
Because some of these songs were written years ago, naturally we have changed and grown as artists and people. The songwriting is a window looking in on different relationships, both personal, communal, and especially the relationship to self. A lot of it has to do with those sorts of existential moments that occur when trying to find your voice as an artist, or find purpose in the art you’re making.
You’ve mentioned that you use songwriting as a way to process your internal world and intense emotions. Could you share a specific song from the EP that was particularly therapeutic for you to write, and what it means to you?
“Ketamine” is a song about friendship. It came partly from the helpless feeling of not being able to reach a friend; wanting to be there for them and provide the reassurance that ultimately can only be provided by the universe/god/higher powers. Sometimes all you can do is remind someone of that fact, and in doing so remind yourself. “If you need a light I will fly to you, I’ll come inside and I’ll tell you the truth, that god will always be god, we are in her right hand, and we will surely know nothing again.”
“Poison the Well” delves into facing the consequences of one’s actions, “Motorcycle” is described as a song about escapism and “Bless the Loser” tackles the complexity of the human experience. With the EP covering a wide range of emotions, how important was it for you to take listeners on this journey with you and did you have any hesitations with being so honest in your songwriting?
No, being honest in my songwriting is the only way I know how to write, and I think a lot of the time it’s more interesting. Of course, fear is always present when being so vulnerable, but I’ve always connected most to artists who are vulnerable anyway. We all just want to see and feel and hear a reflection of how real and raw we are internally.
Do you have a favorite track off the EP?
“Bless the Loser” was a lot of fun to track – we recorded the foundation live to tape and really enjoyed delving into production and layering effects, guitars, vocals after the fact. It’s hard to pick a favorite but if I have to, it’s this one. It really captures the feeling of shedding skin, breaking out of a shell, feeling young and restless.
You’re both originally from Northwest Montana and now based in Los Angeles. Do you think your time in Montana had any influence on your sound?
Definitely. We grew up very influenced by the sounds coming out of Seattle and the Sub Pop world, as well as the weird folk of the indie northwest. Built to Spill and Modest Mouse were big influences. Having less access to live shows and having to make our own fun also maybe played a role in our gumption to make bands and write songs just to have something to do.
Have you come across any hurdles working together as very close, long-standing friends?
Honestly very few. Our closeness has always proven to be a strength, especially when one or the other of us has lost the spark. We are good at reminding each other why we are doing it in the first place; which is cause it’s fun as hell! Our ability to trust and be honest with each other is a really crucial component in our artist-producer relationship.
Your music is described as “rock and roll cowboy meets indie pop”. If you had to compare yourself to three other artists who would they be?
That’s a tough question. I think we’re still exploring how we want to sound on a song by song basis. We might sound similar to one artist in one song and a completely different vibe the next. Id say; Big Thief, Radiohead, Wunderhorse.
With the release of Too Right bringing 2023 to a close, what can we expect next year from Surprise Baby?
We are already hard at work on the next record, which will be a full-length and hopefully released sometime in the summer of 2024.
Lastly, how would you describe Too Right in just three words each?