Happyalone have come from a galaxy far far away, via Cork, to achieve major success, writes Ellie O’Byrne
They've come from the Andromeda Galaxy, but more recently, they’ve come from The Sesh, and they’re going straight back to it after.
The 22-year-old bleach-blonde lead singer of Cork band Happyalone, who likes to be known as Baxter Robot, has a bottle of wine in the inside pocket of his brown overcoat.
What’s the vintage? “€4 Aldi,” he says cheerfully.
Vocalist Robot and bassist Slee have escaped a house-party in a student-friendly area of the city to do an interview. As long as their real names aren’t revealed.
They’re sticking to a backstory — and names — that appear on their Spotify page: they’ve come from the Andromeda Galaxy to change music as we know it.
Robot, with bandmates Slee and North Head, have emerged with much fanfare onto planet Earth’s Irish music scene since Happyalone’s formation just a year ago.
As unwilling to be pigeonholed as they are to depart for interview from the stage personas they’ve adopted, the idiosyncratic trio describe Happyalone’s mood-driven eclectic electronica as “genre fluid”.
Emerging seemingly almost accidentally as streaming sensations after they knocked together a magnificently moody track called ‘Colours’ last November and released it on Spotify to have it reach number one in the Irish Viral charts within weeks.
They’ve released a series of four songs under the collective title of ‘Season IV’ and are about to drop a concluding single,’ Go Slow’, to coincide with an end-of-year Irish tour.
They play Other Voices in Dingle this weekend and won 2FM’s “Play The Picnic” competition, winning a slot to play Electric Picnic.
They’ve attended London Music Conference, and have just launched their own record label, Real Fear Records.
Months ago, the band quit their UCC Music degrees en masse, in the first flush of success, and promptly enrolled themselves in the school of life: they’re treating the band as a full-time job and learning as they go.
“We’re running it like a business,” Robot says.
“We’re getting up in the morning and sending emails. People think that being in a band is smoking joints and drinking cans. It’s not any more. You can’t be successful like that. “
“I had no doubt in my mind that leaving college was the right thing to do,” Slee says.
“I just have that feeling that I know this is going somewhere. I don’t see why I can’t see if I can make my own success with the lads, instead of having a piece of paper that says I barely scraped through an arts degree.”
“I hated college,” Baxter Robot adds, sitting forward with sudden vehemence. “It’s not necessary. I taught myself more about Ableton on YouTube than I could learn in college.”
Happyalone are of a generation that navigates a postmodern landscape where technology is dissolving institutions. Genre, record label giants, college education: all can be evaluated and discarded when they’re deemed defunct.
“There isn’t the same need for major labels anymore,” Robot says.
“It’s better to be independent because you can wholeheartedly have creative control over what you release and when. Spotify is a major label now, Apple is a major label.
“But it’s all smoke and mirrors and social media now: how many clicks, how many followers, how many streams.
“When we were in London, we met A&R people who said, ‘your music is fantastic, but you don’t have enough followers. You need 10,000-20,000 followers.’
On the homegrown music scene, the band are fervent supporters of their peers: they envision their fledgling record label, on which Go Slow is being released, as a collective of “creative like minds” including videographers and graphic designers as well as musicians.
Then they’ll have their own festival. And their own stage at Electric Picnic within three years. And they’re working on an audio-visual stage show that is going to be “the best thing that has ever happened”.
The Andromedan-Corkonians are unashamedly earth-conquering in their ambitions; for Happyalone, the only way is up.
“We’re serious,” Robot says. “When we say we’re going to do things, we just do them. People go ‘oh, that’s really ambitious,’ but we’ve never said we were doing something we haven’t achieved.”
Remaining dates in Happyalone’s winter tour are tonight at Other Voices in Dingle and December the 6th in Dali in Cork. www.realfear.co