How can one question be so obvious, so simple, and yet so vast and all-encompassing of the entire life experience? Writing, performing, recording and making a video for a song called “Are You Happy” seems like a sucker’s bet, a guaranteed washout, but AV Super Sunshine has a rare kind of honesty, an almost naive desire to hear a chorus of yesses blasted back at him. He and his partner-collaborator-muse Philomena ask one of the oldest questions on Earth to another one of their joyous musical starbursts. But how does AV claim to know what happiness is? The Wisconsin native battled his way out of a lengthy, mineshaft-black depression, and after the dust settled, he roared back into music-making as if his life depended upon it. “Baby Goodbye” hit #7 on the Billboard Hot Single Sales chart and from there, he kept topping the Starfleet DJ Pool charts and winning over tens of thousands of fans around the world. He’s made a life out of crafting mind-altering EDM, rootsy rock, and uplifting soul. “Are You Happy” is his latest sonic supernova.
The first single off Candyland Remixes Vol. 1 wraps the fairly intimidating conversation starter in electronic bubblegum fun. The tune is all about one person’s search for, and journey towards, happiness. The analog-fuzzy group chorus hammers the question home like a bug-eyed carnival barker, impossible to ignore. However, the contentment promised here is very real. Instantly catchy, “Are You Happy” wastes no time getting to the good part, with a knee-bouncing synth riff reminiscent of Lipps, Inc. or Deee-Lite’s more obscure stuff. Warm, angular guitar chords provide propulsion as AV takes lead vocals, and Philomena drops some serious diva backups, hitting highs that rival her platform heels. Produced by multi-platinum studio whiz Michael Bradford (Madonna, Anita Baker, Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart), this isn’t just a perfect end-of-the-night club track; it’s a perfect anytime-any-day headphone jam.
Directed by the song’s own siren Philomena Victor, the video is a head trip in every color on the spectrum. A madly grinning Lego MC flanked by cheerleader dolls presides over a stop-motion Formula One race, getting the crowd of fellow Lego-folk revved up by repeatedly invoking the songtitle. Meanwhile, AV and Philomena cruise through an enviably lazy afternoon, its visuals filtered through a psychedelic lens and neon 80’s VHS effects. They road trip it, windows down, through the woods in a magenta jeep and hit an empty golf course. Their impractical classic rock finery stands in stark contrast to the manicured, uniform green of the links. Is that their secret- just do you? Maybe it really is that simple. Give it a shot, think hard, and dance freely.