Fall In Love With Lovechild's "Happiness One"
We love Lovechild. Here at The Music Mermaid, we find ourselves enormous fans of the NYC-based folk-rock group's quirky psychedelia and lush Americana arrangements. Lucky for us, and for you, the band is back with yet another dreamy single, "Happiness One."
"Happiness One" is Lovechild's longest track to date, a sweetened slow-rolling confessional clocking in at just over five minutes. You don't notice it, though, because time stops with this song. We don't count the beats per minute or recognize the halfway point because "Happiness One" is merely awash in spellbinding melody, suspended in time like a state of sonic limbo. This is the power of Lovechild: they don't quite make music. They make magic.
The track begins with a rousing piano rhythm, classic in its subdued uptempo solo, before frontman Leo Liebeskind's emotive voice, soaked in a sweet ache, comes in above some woozy guitar work. The arrangement is minimal, as is the vocal line, each giving space for the other to offer up various moments of profound impact. It's a soft crawl before the choir effect sneaks in, layers of dreamy vocals singing the chorus above the quietly tropical instrumentation. Next comes warbling synth, like the sound of a wailing dreamweaver in the reverie that is "Happiness One", in the vein of The Beatles' Abbey Road experimentation. The rest of the song moves on slowly with more sentimental harmonies and gentle bass and guitar rumbles, before it's closed out with the tender buzz of harmonica.
In just five minutes, the masterminds behind Lovechild sweep listeners out of time and space and into a wistful ballad that transcends what we know about the listening experience. "Happiness One," though sparse, is packed with emotion, an enchanting piece of psychedelic love.
Listen to "Happiness One" below and read on for an exclusive interview between The Music Mermaid and Lovechild's Leo Liebeskind. You can connect with the band on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bandcamp.
The Music Mermaid: You guys just released “Happiness One,” a misty, wistful ballad. Can you talk a little about the track and the inspiration behind it?
Leo Liebeskind of Lovechild: I wrote this song all the way back in the spring of 2014, when I was 20. I’d just dropped out of college for good after a “year off" and I was still at the end of a long phase of fully trying to process a binge of psychedelic experiences I had put myself through while I was still a student.
My girlfriend at the time and I had just gotten back from a tension-filled vacation we had taken to Spain and Morocco, and despite obvious and strong love and care for each other, it felt like our relationship was on its last leg. I wanted to write something that was real and showed pain, but that also showed what it meant to me to grow alongside someone I had gotten the chance to share love and joy and happiness with, someone who supported me through my ups and downs and goods and bads. I remember sitting down at my piano immediately when we got home and being very happy to be reunited with my piano and my room, and the song came out over the next week or two.
TMM: Though most of Lovechild’s songs adopt that warm poetic touch, this one certainly seems to build even farther than that. The emotion is palpable. What made it that way?
LL: I think the song was able to live its own story which is kind of the beauty of it. I wrote it about a month before I formed the first lineup of the band that eventually became Lovechild. We played our first two gigs at the Sidewalk Cafe on 6th street and Avenue A and this place Goodbye Blue Monday in Bushwick that closed years ago, and [the gigs] were horrible, but I closed both sets with “Happiness One” by myself on piano, and that was probably alright.
I haven’t seen any of the people who played those shows with me in months and it’s not until years of lineup changes and countless rehearsals and gigs that the song is finally seeing life. And while I could easily be frustrated that here I am releasing a 4-year-old song, that would be foolish and shortsighted. I’ve had the chance to grow and become a better person, a better musician, and a better friend alongside some awesome people and talented musicians who I get to call my bandmates. We’ve had the same lineup for almost two years now, busting our asses through life in New York, and the songs we play have grown from “my” songs to “our” songs.
When the time came, we laid down the final tracks in a few quick weeks, and everyone in the band was able give the song their own touch and put their own musical voice into the recording. So, I hope that “Happiness One” can be a testament to the work we’ve put into figuring out our sound and the progress we’ve made since we all met.
TMM: This song took four years to fully come to life. Why do you think you’ve held onto it for so long?
LL: Some things take time.
TMM: What does it feel like to finally let go of it?
LL: I’m proud of the recording, so it feels good. The song itself means a lot to me. I don’t know if releasing the recording really changes anything about that, but I’ll be happy if people hear it and relate.
TMM: Lovechild claims “Happiness One” as an “introspective song about love, life, and the pursuit of both those things” -- and indeed it is. What other songs close to your heart follow this same trope that you might recommend for the rest of us hopeless romantics and happiness seekers?
LL: Well I’ll start by saying we have another song called “Happiness Two" that will be on our debut record, and I’d definitely say that anyone who likes “Happiness One" would like “Happiness Two.”
But for me, the best, most moving art of any medium has always been art that is able to be uplifting and inspiring without shying away from the intense negativity and darkness that surrounds all corners of the world. That’s what I was aiming for with “Happiness One.” Lots of artists have done this well -- Joni Mitchell’s Blue album is a pretty good example. Most everything by Blake Mills and Frank Ocean. “Because” by the Beatles. Pretty much all of Abbey Road actually. A young, new artist I like called Rex Orange County has his own song called “Happiness” that I think does this well. Anything that hits at a tender spot inside!
TMM: What is the songwriting process generally like for you? Did penning this tune drum up any revelations?
LL: There’s definitely no formula to songwriting for me other than persistence to pursue the craft and be hard on yourself and your own ideas. I like writing in all different moods and in all different ways. Sometimes it’s a melody first, sometimes it’s lyrics, sometimes it’s a chord progression. If it comes together and there’s something worth remembering, I’ll remember it.
TMM: My favorite part [of "Happiness One"] is that brief choir section marking the halfway point of the track that returns near the end. What was the thought behind adding that piece?
LL: It’s always our first instinct to add harmonies to most of our recordings, but we felt that any harmony vocal lines we were trying were getting in the way of the lead vocals. The lyrics and melody of the chorus -- “I got a friend... she brings me happiness” -- are pretty simple, so harmonies were just taking the umph away from the lead vocals and the lyrics rather than enhancing them. Also, we always felt like this song has had a sort of singalong type quality, so we went for that. Wyatt (our bassist and producer) and I overdubbed a few layers of our voices to get a choir effect, and it felt right.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what else can we expect from Lovechild?
Leo Liebeskind of Lovechild: Like I said earlier, hopefully “Happiness One” can be a testament to the time and work the band and I have put towards sculpting our sound around my lyrics and singing. So that being said, you can expect more fully realized Lovechild recordings in the near future, with a debut album coming down the line. Certainly not everything we make will be this firmly placed in the drippy, psych-folk sound of “Happiness One,” but there is plenty more to come, and I strongly urge any listeners to do everything in their power to make it to a live show sometime soon!