True to its name, “Belong,” off of California alt-duo Slenderbodies’ debut album Komorebi, is a song about finding community.
“I think the song is really about finding a connection with people that might be very different from you, [and] doing it in a space that incorporates love of nature and spaces that bring everybody together,” singer-songwriter Max Vehuni tells EW, before performing the song for the latest edition of our In the Basement series with bandmate Benji Cormack.
The song, like the album itself, was born out of that love for nature, Cormack explains. While driving to a gig at Solaura Fest in Northern California, the duo saw a display of komorebi — a Japanese word describing the effect of sunlight streaming through trees. “We were just inspired to go back up to Mendocino, California, which is where the festival was, to write the record because it was the space that inspired all the feelings and concepts that drive the record,” Vehuni says.
The two spent their days in the woods writing songs with their guitars, something that was “different than anything we’ve ever done,” according to Cormack. “Both of us were raised in nature our whole lives, so I think to immerse ourselves in that again for our debut record really put it in a special place that felt nostalgic, but at the same time very fresh because of the experiences at the festival,” he says.
Slenderbodies first emerged in 2016 with their EP Sotto Voce, which took its name from an Italian phrase meaning to speak softly but with emphasis. The collection quickly caught fire on Spotify, where it racked up millions of streams without any label or radio support. The next year, the pair returned with a second EP, Fabulist. Its lead single “Anemone” garnered more than 30 million plays across platforms.
In 2018 and 2019, Vehuni and Cormack released two more EPs (Fabulist: Extended and Soraya) and landed gigs at the likes of Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, before finally releasing Komorebi via Avant Garden/Island Records in September. They then embarked on a 17-stop tour, which just wrapped up with an Oct. 23 stop at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.
The duo is excited about what comes next, even if they’re not yet sure what that will entail. “We just finished a tour, so we’re definitely going to take a moment to retreat to our havens and write more music and masterplan the next year,” Vehuni says.
Cormack agrees, adding, “I think everything is on the table but we haven’t laid out solid plans for anything yet. So it is a really exciting time. I think we’re just really excited to get back in the studio and write more music together.”