Surprise Baby Talks About Their New Single “Poison the Well” and What it Means to Them

Introducing Surprise Baby, the LA-based collaboration between musician Sarsten Noice and producer Claire Morison. With roots in Northwest Montana, they blend rock and roll cowboy vibes with indie pop sensibilities. Their upcoming EP defies genres, and the first single, “Poison the Well,” delves into facing consequences and the desire for change. Noice’s emotive songwriting offers a cathartic journey of introspection, encouraging listeners to reflect on desire and transformation.

Photographer: India Coombs

As musicians originally from Northwest Montana, how has your background and upbringing influenced the sound and themes in your music?
Growing up, we were very influenced by the indie rock scene of the Pacific Northwest in the late 90s and early 00s – some of the first bands we were exposed to and some of our favourites still include Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Elliott Smith, Postal Service, etc.  Earlier bands originating from Seattle and the Sub Pop culture were inspiring and influential as well. Themes that come through in Sarsten’s writing are very rooted in growing up in Montana and all that entails; rebel-cowboy culture, living off the land, native spirituality and stewardship, being surrounded by big and mostly untouched nature and a tortured-romantic quality that is indicative of the west, its dark history and its beauty. 

Your music has been described as “rock and roll cowboy meets indie pop.” How do you combine these elements to create your unique sound?
Besides the lyrical content that touches on that romantic/rebel cowboy quality, a lot of the guitar tones we chose to use reminded us of a sort of dirty, country rock sound.  We captured some of that country-twang in the lead guitar parts, and some of the vocal tones and harmonies are saturated and pushed in a very raw, classic rock and roll sound.  On the other hand, we listen to a lot of current pop music and are very influenced by those sounds and that high-fidelity, high quality production.  We incorporated samples and drum machines that Sarsten used during the writing process with the live versions tracked with the full band. In later sessions, we would integrate more “pop” production, although we have never played by those pop “rules” as far as song structure, timing, etc .  We tried to mix those pop, vocal-forward influences with our indie sensibility to convey all our influences and sounds that we love and are inspiring to us. 


The upcoming EP explores different genres and sounds. Can you give us a glimpse into the diverse musical influences and styles we can expect to hear on the record?
One of the tracks, “Ketamine” is sort of a disco-pop, psychedelic jam session that features both drum samples, a dueling minute-long multiple guitar solo, and at least 6 different tracks of layered percussion.  The first single “Poison the Well” is more of a moody, experimental pop song.  The opening and closing tracks of the EP both lean more rock, very guitar heavy and saturated tonally – the closing track emoting a palpable rock and roll angst.  The upcoming single, “Motorcycle”, is a softer, more beautiful, singer-songwriter vibe, full of harmonies and reverb.

“Poison the Well” is the first single from the EP. Can you share more about the inspiration behind the song and the story it narrates?
This song came from a place of frustration. Feeling some real growing pains, I was in love with someone I couldn’t have while also falling for someone who was getting hurt by the chaos. 

The track touches on facing the consequences of one’s actions and the desire for change. How do you find balance between expressing personal experiences through your music while leaving it open to the listeners’ interpretation?
I try to find a balance by drawing honestly from moments in my life but not lyrically explaining or telling a full story, which leaves just fragments of analogy and imagery that can be interpreted in more than one way. I do think if you listen to the lyrics the themes are clear but the way we get to them is not always straightforward. 

Lyrically, you mention using songwriting as a way to process your internal world and intense emotions. How does this cathartic process impact the overall creative direction of your music?
Our creative direction is very much dictated by our life experiences and chronicles that. The production and arrangement decisions in the studio are often fully instinctual and come from the desire to stay true to the emotion I was feeling when writing the song. Processing experiences and emotions via making sound creates a sort of audio diary or time capsules of feeling and energy for us. 


“Poison the Well” starts with a minimalist, eerie atmosphere and builds in intensity with layered textures and instruments. How do you approach the production and arrangement of your songs to create such engaging dynamics?
We’ve never set any real rules for ourselves as far as song structure or standards. A lot of the layering of production just comes from us experimenting and following our creative intuition to make songs and sounds we find really cool.  We are lucky to share a really strong sense of kinetic creative energy and are attracted to and inspired by a lot of the same kind of genre-bending, interesting shifts of tones and drastic dynamic changes.  

The upcoming EP will touch on relationships, self-growth, spirituality, and transformation. Can you elaborate on how these themes will be explored and expressed through your music?
Most of the lyrical content of the EP touches on all these themes and the instrumentation is meant to support and explore that. 

As a duo with a long-standing friendship and creative partnership, how does your dynamic influence the songwriting and collaboration process?
Honestly, our creative dynamic is almost seamless, with the exception of Claire’s lack of enthusiasm for excess synths and percussion.  One of the healthiest aspects of our relationship, besides an unfaltering trust between us creatively and personally, is our ability to express true brutal honesty with one another.  This is often alarming for anyone else witnessing our debates in the studio for the first time, but our love for each other is so locked in that it feels like fighting with family.  In reality, most of the time we are super in sync creatively and really experience a high-functioning flow together in the studio.


What are your aspirations for the future of Surprise Baby? Are there any specific goals or milestones you hope to achieve as a band?
Being able to keep making records is always one of our main goals. We hope to create a prolific and diverse catalog of music over the next few years.  The opportunity to go on tour opening for some of our idols and playing some larger festivals is a milestone we aim for. Also to have our music placed in film and television. And to grow the band and have more musicians playing in Surprise Baby. 

How do you see your music connecting with your audience, and what impact do you hope your songs will have on listeners?
We don’t really have any expectations for our listeners, except the hope that the songs make them feel something, which is a quality we always found in our favorite music.

Can you share any details about future projects or plans after the release of the EP?
We are already hard at work and having a lot of fun working on the second EP, as well as a separate double-single release produced with our friend Kenny Becker from GOON.  Sarsten is planning a mini-tour, release show and listening party.

Lastly, is there a message or takeaway you would like your listeners to have after experiencing your music and EP as a whole?
Poetically, this EP is a self help pamphlet written by a lovesick cowboy who thinks she can write poetry about god.  Whether or not that comes through is up to the listener. 


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