Lone thundering drums start it off, almost like a war cry, but soon enough, a wash of shimmering synth fades in and “Mikelah,” the recent single from L.A. band Superhumanoids turns out to be an epic love song fit for a John Hughes movie. But that’s not how it was conceived. According to the band’s bassist Max St. John, the track was born of a playground event he witnessed with his band mate Sarah Chernoff. “We were in a park in New York and we saw this really adorable overweight young child caught in the monkey bars,” he recalls. What the child’s friends were saying to her as they helped her out became the ethereal chorus: Mikelah, watch me. Mikelah, you’re so heavy. The situation also became a metaphor for the predicament of a difficult, entangling relationship, shaped in the verses by singer Cameron Parkins’ haunting baritone.
The song is a quintessential slice of the Superhumanoids sound, a diaphanous mix of light and dark elements put forth in the band’s tag line, “music to kiss the doldrums away.” Beginning in Parkins’ bedroom, the quartet formed a few years ago around some songs he had recorded on his own. “He and Sarah wrote a few songs together,” says St. John. “Cameron and I played in another band together and I heard the songs, got excited about them and we decided to play them live.” Soon they were all contributing ideas and collaborating on new songs, many of which will appear on the band’s upcoming full length. “We’re trying to make songs about sad things sound happy and vice versa,” says St. John. “We try to strike that balance when we can."