It’s no secret that I’m a little obsessed with the Irish music scene, specifically the scene here in Cork City – just ask any of my friends. There are some really great bands making waves here. One of those bands is Happy Alone – a “genre-fluid-alt-pop” threesome. I had a little chat with frontman Fionn Tobin, a.k.a. Baxter Robot.
I knew the first thing I had to ask Fionn about was the band’s name, which has changed twice in the short time that I’ve known him. I wanted to know why. According to Fionn, there was much deliberation involved but eventually the band settled on Happy Alone, a name which is “subjectively positive and negative depending on one’s own state of mind and interpretation.” Fionn went on to describe how he believes “one can be happy alone in a state of bliss” away from the outside world. The band’s aim is to make people happy with their music whether that be alone or as an inclusive act of listening and experiencing. Keeping on the topic of names, and just for a little fun I posed the question, “If you had to change the name of the band but could only change it to the name of a TV show or movie, what would it be called?” Fionn’s reply? “Peep Show.” I don’t think that needs any elaboration…
Fresh off the release of their new track ‘Colours‘ last December, I asked Fionn how it felt to finally have music out in the world under their new Happy Alone identity: “It feels like a weight off our shoulders and the start of a new movement. The reaction has been overwhelming.” Most impressively, the track was produced “from the comfort of [Fionn’s] bedroom” but that definitely hasn’t hindered the quality of the track. The track sounds excellent to me – and I know lots of people agree.
Anyone who has followed the Cork music scene for a while will remember when Happy Alone were known as Blaming Hannah. I was curious to find out why the band decided to move away from this identity and create a new one. “Blaming Hannah was, for me, writing based on what I thought songwriting had to be.” The band realised they wanted to make way for more experimental songs and writing music from “a more emotive place that you can’t always vocalise.” Along with the newer, more fluid and ambient sound, Happy Alone also brings with it a new aesthetic – something which the band do very well in my opinion. “Our aesthetic stems from our take on modern pop culture partnered with urban subculture. Our aim with the aesthetic is to create visually stimulating pieces that intrigue and captivate.”
Happy Alone definitely don’t have any mad notions of taking over the global music scene overnight – because let’s be real, that’s almost impossible. Instead, when I asked where he hopes the band will be this time next year, Fionn replied that “hopefully this time next year we’ll have played a few of the bigger Irish festivals and have cultivated an active and loyal fanbase that’s willing to allow us to experiment with our music.”
After listening to their new track ‘Colours’ – which is fantastic, I’m obsessed – I was curious to know who the band’s influences and inspirations are. For Fionn, Jeff Buckley, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz; formerly Blur) and Thom Yorke (Radiohead) are the ‘Holy Trifecta’: “I’m inspired by many things but mainly its the need to figure out oneself before death and all the ins and outs along the journey,” he adds. Fionn attributes his infatuation with music to his father: “he would constantly blare all sorts, from Supergrass to The Stone Roses to White Zombie. His eclectic taste in music has really rubbed off on me.”
In terms of ‘big future plans’, there’s nothing the band can disclose as of yet. Of course, there’s more tracks to be released – ‘Colours’ is just the beginning. In fact, their newest track ‘Ur Eyes’ was released on the 22nd of January – a song which is “like nothing you’ve ever heard before, but have always wanted to hear” according to Fionn, a track well worth checking out. Keep a special ear out for their track ‘Oxygen’ – Fionn’s personal favourite. ” It tells the tale of caring for an individual with an eating disorder and being so consumed by their love that you would do anything to help them, even take a bullet just so they will hold you as you bleed.”
“A breath of fresh but slightly polluted air” is how Fionn would describe Happy Alone’s music to someone who knows nothing about music. So, if that’s what you’re into, keep a watchful eye on these guys. For more from Happy Alone, check out their Facebook page, @HappyAloneHappy.