London based songwriter Symbol Soup (AKA Michael Rea) has released his debut single, ‘Overdressed’ via London tastemakers Sad Club Records (home of John Myrtle and Ellie Bleach).
Tender and conversational, Symbol Soup creates music that draws on everything from folk, country, indie and electronica. Growing up in Milton Keynes Michael drew parallels between the Buckinghamshire New Town and the American small towns he saw on TV, and this oddly Pacific Northwest perspective has influenced his music.
A perfect introduction to his laidback style, ‘Overdressed’ is a gentle character study, managing to be both wry and insightful at the same time.
“It’s a love song from the perspective of someone who’s overly cynical, and judges everyone around them as superficial or ‘Overdressed’” Michael explains. “They have a bit of an ‘us against the world’ mentality and feel trapped in a maze of surface-level interactions. They don’t learn a whole lot by the end of the song, but they are fully connected to one person, and that’s the connection to something deeper that they’re desperate for.”
The song is accompanied by a hilarious video based on a famous American hot dog eating competition, and directed by the up-and-coming director Kirsty Wells of Kondor Films
“This video is based on the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contests, which are endlessly fascinating – a baffling mix of sport, food, patriotism and commerce” says Michael, describing the slightly absurdist video. “Conceptually it doesn’t have much to do with the song other that the ‘I want more’ lyric at the start. We used the cheapest vegan hotdogs we could find, which were pretty inedible. To be on the safe side I bought 160 hot dogs, which was far too many, so for a couple of months after we were trying to use them up in whatever pasta sauce or curry we could force them into. Kirsty and Bea (Beatriz Fernandes, assistant director) did a great job of directing and my friend Rob gives an inspired performance as the hot dog.”
Since relocating to South London from Milton Keynes in 2021, Symbol Soup has become a valuable part of the local DIY community. This is in large part down to hosting the ‘Soupenanny’ shows at The George Tavern and The Windmill. These events take food bank donations for entry, showcasing like-minded acts such as Tapir! Blackaby, Lilo. Symbol Soup have also played support for the likes of Jerkcurb, Bull, Personal Trainer and Tummyache.
Symbol Soup is an artist that mixes talent, ethics and charm to truly make him a songwriter to watch as he releases more material in 2023.