“Let’s just lean into the broken glass of it” – Too Birds on Lunch

August 9th 2023

The three members of Too birds stand in the center of the frame and lean over a table. One of them is looking away, one of them is looking down at the table, and one of them is looking at the camera and smiling.

  • :: Too Birds interview on Lunch with Isaac Ortlipp

Halfway through the fourth track on Soul of Too Birds, the lumbering, industrial hip hop production and bitcrushed semi-screamed verses abruptly fade out. A despondent minor-key string part takes their place. A guest feature from local multi-instrumentalist Nikodimos comes in and, like the backing track to a neo-noir film, the song turns sombre and self-reflective. 30 seconds later the infamous voice of Shadoe Haze echoes across the gloomy soundscape: “Damn, Son! Where’d You Find This?” No matter. The orchestra plays on, the tragedy doesn’t stop. The saxophone panics, screeching rapid arpeggios as thick bass notes collide with the strings. A voice begins a chant, but the words can’t quite be made out. The tension rises, and then just as before, it simmers away. A voice sighs: “Too Birds, man.”

This fleeting moment of ?apparent? sincerity is one of many on a record of biting, tongue-in-cheek lyricism and gleefully noisy electronic beats. The fourth album from Naarm artists Teether, Realname and Mr. Society, collectively known as Too Birds, Soul of Too Birds is an experimental hip hop record laced with sardonic wit and dripping with caustic irony. Yet it is also at the same time powerfully grounded and sensitive. The artists behind FBi Radio’s Album of the Week this week called in to Lunch with Isaac Ortlipp to tell us all about it.

“It’s an uphill battle for a lot of people just to feel well. So I think [disillusionment] is an easy feeling to lean into. But I think we have to keep the albums brief because you don’t want to dwell on that feeling too much.”

Soul of Too Birds explores themes of dystopia and the casualised suffering of contemporary 21st century life. Rappers Teether and Realname trade acerbic verses about fate, godlessness, identity, mental health and violence atop Mr. Society’s deep-fried and industrial production.

“It’s funny, we want to make serious music, but life just is too goofy for anything. We can’t make HBO drama. HBO drama does not exist in the world. There is no prestige real life. It’s all live-action Rick and Morty, unfortunately.”

Too Birds’ music reflects the voice of a generation corroded by all the human-made horrors of the world. Playfully nihilistic yet deep down still searching for genuine meaning and human connection, they (we) are forced to turn to humour as a coping mechanism, revelling in the chaos of it all lest it consume them (us).

The whole thing is deeply meta-ironic. With regular irony, the artist expresses meaning through joking language that normally signifies the opposite, as recognised by the audience. But with meta-irony, earnest and ironic intents become muddled – both the audience and the artists themselves are unsure about which aspects of the art are a joke and which are serious. Take, for example, the moniker of Too Birds producer ‘Mr Society’. The name makes you wonder, does he mean it earnestly, in a “we live in a corrupt and immoral society,” I see the injustice and face no choice but to revel in the chaos of it all (because I’m the Joker) kind of way? Or is it more in an ironic, ‘wE LiVe iN a sOcieTY,’ making fun of incels on the internet kind of way? The answer is I don’t know, he doesn’t know, and also both.



Through meta irony, Too Birds’ sarcastic humour shifts from an escape from reality to a reality itself, one in which we can simultaneously acknowledge and distance ourselves from the colossal social and economic violence that distorts our everyday lives. In doing so, we manage to feel at least some semblance of control. As Realname brags on ‘Sucks 2BU!’, “Self destruction was the only option laid out so we take ‘em!”

This underlying existential crisis is most clear on the final track of Soul of Too Birds, titled ‘Last Words’. The concluding two minutes of the album feature only a reverbed electric guitar, playing a gentle riff at a sliding tempo. All the bravado of the past seven tracks has fallen away, and underneath lies only quiet despair.

Even here however, the irony still persists, at once cheeky and self-reflexively depressing – the track is called ‘Last Words’, but there are no lyrics.

Listen back to the full interview with Too Birds on Lunch to hear them discuss their early musical influences, managing their independent record label X Amount, and selling the literal soul of Too Birds on Instagram (current asking price approx. $31,000). Catch Too Birds performing alongside Sevy, Sidney Phillips and Trophie at Oxford Art Factory next Thursday August 17, details here. Buy/stream Soul of Too Birds on Bandcamp below.


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