Happiness can creep in during the weirdest of moments — something Singaporean singer Linying knows well. On her new song, premiering exclusively on NYLON today, she encounters the emotion during a morally ambiguous rendezvous with a guy, who maybe already has a girlfriend and definitely doesn’t have good music taste. “But I’ve been so scared for so long about what the aftermath of heartbreak would look like that now, watching myself be cared for, attended to, appreciated and savoured like a peach in peak ripeness, feeling a freeness I never thought I’d feel – I’m filled with indescribable relief,” Linying tells NYLON of the track. Ethically, it’s all very gray but the song, an impossibly bouncy pop tune, beams in yellow.
“Happiness” is newest single from Linying’s forthcoming EP House Mouse, out Friday, Nov. 16. And despite its emotional complexity, it exudes its titular emotion through a vibrant pallette of bright boops and Linying’s own playful syncopated delivery: “You’re so polite-lite baby, lite-lite baby/ Even when you’re pulling my hair.” But it’s her lyricism that takes the cake, though: vivid and romantic descriptors of feeling “ripe” and “organic” like a fragrant bowl of tropical fruit. If she’s at fault she doesn’t feel it — it’s an anthem for being selfish and indulgent with yourself.
Those themes extend to the “Happiness” music video which plays like an impossibly luxe vacation blog, which it sort of was. She shot the visual with a friend, Michelle, during a 10-day trip to the Philippines, where they gorged themselves on fruit, surfed in the ocean, and thought about shooting the music video as the last task on the list. “I’d scramble into an outfit and full makeup once we saw that the light was good, and we’d shoot without a plan, looping the song over and over but never getting sick of it,” Linying says. “The significance of ‘Happiness’ just keeps compounding and expanding, for me!”
Linying, a rising voice out of Singapore, is a recent signee to the Canadian label Nettwerk, and even grabbed the attention of Troye Sivan in a recent video. Hear “Happiness” below.
What are you up to right now — describe your surroundings.
I’m alone in a very noisy, gaudy dimsum restaurant in East LA. There’s a curved entryway of very ornate columns in front of me and I’m sitting under an enormous seashell-shaped chandelier – fluorescent lighting everywhere! This was meant to be a quick grocery run but I got sidetracked, somehow convincing myself that I was just going in to “check out the menu.” Now there’s a half-eaten bean curd shrimp roll on my plate… I also just got yelled at by a server, which makes me feel at home. It’s so great!
What's the story behind “Happiness?”
There’s a disproportionate amount of emotional complexity to “Happiness” for me, for a song that brings me such simple, senseless joy every time I hit play on it! The situation is morally murky, off the bat, with a cosmic shower no girlfriend could possibly approve of, and the way I let our incompatible music tastes slide in the name of the Moment (my Lord, my Savior!) – but I’ve been so scared for so long about what the aftermath of heartbreak would look like that now, watching myself be cared for, attended to, appreciated and savoured like a peach in peak ripeness, feeling a freeness I never thought I’d feel – I’m filled with indescribable relief! In a nutshell: I’m gonna be okay.
What's your earliest music-related memory?
Maybe listening to “Love Potion No. 9” in my parents’ car? My dad was often the one ferrying my brother and I to and from school, and he always had the BBC on, so when Mum was driving we’d get to listen to her music. “Love Potion No. 9” and “Hotel California” were the first two songs I’d ever heard that I remember thinking, “This might be my favorite song,” about. Looking back on it now, something about the jangly minor chords and very vivid storytelling must have captivated young me.
Troye Sivan recently reacted to your song. How did that happen?
It’s wild, isn’t it?! He was on tour in Asia, and a local media outlet named Bandwagon conducted an interview with him, and I think the editor was playing him songs by me and No Rome to get his reaction. I’m very tickled at the point in the video where he breaks a very long silence by saying, “It’s super sexy.”
What's the last album you played in full and really enjoyed, and why did you like it?
Dave Harrington’s new solo record, The Pictures… I’ve been painting to it, running to it, cleaning the kitchen, staring out the window to it all week. I just ordered the limited edition cassette off Bandcamp. I just think it’s so gorgeous, moving and intimate, and I love how every song seamlessly flows into the next. I found myself gravitating to the same songs each time I listened through, and made a note of my favourites (“Love of the Game,” “Talisman” and “My Father’s Name”), but there really isn’t a point because every time I want to hear any part of it I feel I must hear all the parts that came before it. That’s a new feeling for me, and though I know nothing about its back story, it makes me think of loss and memory and consolation, and I think it’s such a special record.