INTERVIEW: Happyness | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Happyness’ name has become ubiquitous. Appearing on one-to-watch lists far and wide, and seemingly the support band du jour, the London-based trio are still in their adolescence, having only released their debut album, Weird Little Birthday, in July last year.

On their recent American tour, the band admit that they pretty much made it up as they went along: “We met a lot of cool people and tried to encourage them to like us and buy our shit.” There is no master-plan here, no algorithms; just a trio that are aware of their desires. Refusing to be pinned down to merely one instrument, the band prefer to collectively take on instrumental roles (and interviews, seemingly). “We made the album in our own studio and had loads of random pieces of gear lying around, we’d all just end up with a certain instrument in our hands and run with it. If something worked with someone playing it, we wouldn’t change it needlessly, so we all became quite fluid instrumentally.”

The disjointed elusiveness of the band adds to the mystical allure – their Twitter bio reads simply: ‘Positive but non-committal’ and is apparently lifted from a quote by chef Gusteau from the animated Disney/Pixar film, Ratatouille – their pop-culture references are bizarre, yet tasteful, their lyric from Montreal Rock Band Somewhere won the NME Award for Lyrics of the Year, thanks to its nod to Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and his imagined bald scalp (“I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair/There’s a scalpless singer in a Montreal rock band somewhere”).

Happyness leave a wry smirk on your face, there’s something unsettling, yet beautiful, about their blustery slacker-rock

Last year, the band self-released their astonishing debut Weird Little Birthday, with singer-guitarist Benji Compston drooling witty, poetic quips amid a pleasant filling of plush instrumental parts on behalf of bassist Jonny Allan and drummer Ash Cooper. Yet this year’s progressions meant that their signing to Moshi Moshi Records prefigured a re-releasing of Weird Little Birthday. “I think we felt that the record could go a little further and be heard by some more people. There was only so far we could go the first time around, both financially and in terms of actually getting it out to people, so I think it’s made sense to give it another go.”

American producer Adam Lasus worked with Happyness on the album; known for his unorthodox use of analogue recordings to obtain an optimised sonic recording result, during the post-production stages of the album the band would have regular discussions with Lasus over Skype about the mixing process and final refinements. “His style definitely affected the record, it brought everything together and contextualised a lot of the sounds and spaces we’d tried to make. We started working with Adam while we were still tracking the record, so having his style in our minds as we actually recorded the songs must have affected the process before we even got to mixing.” Despite Lasus’s quest for a perfect pitch through analogue devices, the subconscious model of Happyness that was pictured by both the band and Lasus was one captured in blissful lo-fi broods.

Happyness leave a wry smirk on your face, there’s something unsettling, yet beautiful, about their blustery slacker-rock. There are undertones of a wrangling honesty that the band eloquently propagates; the beginnings of the band may have occurred at breakneck velocity, but the trio are seemingly unafraid of what the arbitrary future will bestow upon them.

Happyness play Think Tank?, Newcastle on Saturday 9th May.

Image: Olivia Irving

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