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Camden Crawl & Ray-Ban: Let's Buy Happiness

The Gateshead five-piece played sunny Camden last weekend, crammed into Ray-Ban's double decker bus venue

TextSam BallardPhotographyRobin Sinha

Camden Crawl has come a long way in its relatively short 10-year existence. From humble beginnings where the entire festival consisted of a 15 band line-up; to its current format, where 50 venues, sprawled across north London, host music, comedy and art installations. It’s a growth that hasn’t gone unnoticed, and this year’s partnership with Ray-Ban is further verification of the regard that the festival is now held in. The sunglasses manufacturer has played an unrivalled role in developing the image of popular culture over the last 70 years – from Bob Dylan to General MacArthur – and for this year’s Crawl they put on something a bit special: a double-decker bus-cum-venue parked right in the heart of the action.

Amongst those playing the stripped down sessions were Let’s Buy Happiness. Playing a leading role in an overflowing North East scene, LBH has its roots firmly planted in 90s American guitar pop. What’s perhaps more interesting is the fact that the band has its own label (Ghost Arc) – more a means to an end in the early days, now it’s about maintaining control. Those who can, do. We crammed the Gateshead five-piece onto a tiny sofa just before they went on stage, just after they got their hands on a few Ray-Bans frames, to find out more.

Dazed Digital: How did you guys come to form?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
We were quite young when we started, only sixteen, and for the first month it was without Sarah, who’s James’ sister, although we never actually played live without her. She did a track with us live and from there got more and more involved and that’s how we created our first EP and it became what Let’s Buy Happiness is today.

DD: How does it feel to be asked by Ray-Ban to play?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
Really good, everything’s going well at the minute. We’re pretty booked up over the next few months. We’re also playing the North East Invasion at Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City and we’ve just been booked to do Radio 1’s Big Weekend, which we’re very happy about. Then we’re going to do a support dates with Frankie and the Heartstrings and Lounge on the Farm too.

DD: Can you describe your sound?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
North American indie is what it usually says in the magazines so I suppose I’d better just say that. We like the sound of Death Cab For Cutie but some of the tracks we’ve done recently are a bit heavier.

DD: And you release your own material?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
Yeah, on Ghost Arc records. It’s the best way to do it, at the minute anyway. When we started the band we hadn’t had any offers to sign so we put it out ourselves and it’s worked really well. If we can do it ourselves what’s the point in having someone else do it?

DD: How’s the album coming along?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
We’re in the process of writing it now and we’ll be going into the studio towards the end of May. We’ll record four tracks there and that’ll either be an EP or become part of the album. We’re just building up a catalogue of recorded material at the minute.

DD: Do you all come from the same place musically?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
In a roundabout way, yeah. We’re obviously not all identical but that helps: coming to the band from different places adds to the music. We’re all big Death Cab fans, Bonobo, Panda Bear, The National and then a lot of 90s American stuff: American Football and pop music

DD: What’s the music scene like in Newcastle at the minute?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
It’s really good but there’s such a lack of venues. The live scene itself is really vibrant, and as far as new music goes, there are bands like Grandfather birds, Vinyl jacket, Mammal Club and Frankie and the Heartstrings who are doing pretty well. There’s a lot of communal band practice going on too. We all practice in the same block so we’ll appear at each other’s gigs.

DD: What does the future hold for Let’s Buy Happiness?
Let’s Buy Happiness:
Keep touring, keep playing and build toward making the album. Then start headlining our own shows and start earning a wage!

Keep an eye out for more Camden Crawl/Ray-Ban related articles on Dazed Digital this week