Happy For No Reason is a band that is the antithesis of their name. The band based out of Portland Oregon celebrate every single one of life’s precious moments as two of their members are literally happy to be alive. Comprising of Jo Alexis (vocals and percussion), Neil Goldstein (guitar), and Mark Pritchard (flute), the founding members of Happy For No Reason navigate the rich waters of Jazzy Folk with a pinch of rock, a dash of soul, and even a touch of Bossa Nova.
Their jazzy folk rock single “Canaries (Hot Summer Night)” was revived from Neil and Jo’s early music careers. Neil wrote this chord progression with a jazz band in 1974 and Jo wrote the lyrics in 1991. They put them together one night in 2015 to make the song we hear now. It’s an example of how many of their songs came together.
“The lyrics are about my boyfriend who was working in Harlem at the time and I went to visit him knowing we might break up,” says Jo. “Breaking up when you are still in love is painful but the song has turned into a raucous uptempo sing-along, like the rat pack with a female lead!”
They finished recording, mixing, and making the music video during the pandemic. A friend of Jo’s told suggested the lead vocals were initially too aggressive. So, Jo bought a new microphone and redid her parts, also learning how to use Logic, the DAW (digital audio work station) and spent many hours comping the flute and piano solos.
Their video for “Canaries(Hot Summer Night)” depicts the band on a steampunk style ship, captained by Jo. They are on a mission to catch a canary. The ship and crew are eventually wrecked and never catch the canary. It’s a metaphor for self-destruction, you want something so bad that you’re willing to ignore red flags.
We spoke with Jo Alexis about the video:
Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song specifically in this way?
We didn’t actually choose it but trusted the animator to come up with something fabulous! I saw one of his videos on YouTube and looked him up. He does a combination of live action and animation and I thought it would be amazing for this song!
What was the inspiration behind this video?
Honestly, we gave Christian Bolorinos, our director/animator/producer complete creative freedom on this so all of the ideas were his and we showed up in costume and followed direction. He is SUCH a joy to work with and has an incredible sense of humor! I was delighted with the result and so was the wonder world. The video has acquired 136k views on Facebook and is also a favorite on my YouTube channel.
What was the process of making this video?
The process was so much fun! We rented a studio in Portland and showed up in steampunk outfits(during the pandemic so we wore masks except when shooting!). We shot the music video in Portland but our director, animator and script writer, Christian Bolorinos, was in Barcelona. So we FaceTimed with him during the shoot which actually worked out really well! He directed us from Spain and we just followed his directions. I rented boat props like a steering wheel and a nautical telescope and of course, ropes. We used a fan to make it look as if we were in a terrible storm. Here are some cool pics of our shoot with the band in steampunk costumes.