Michael Simmons – Happy Traum EP

Daryll-Ann broke up in 2004, yet the band, together with Johan, is still seen as the flagship of the Dutch Indie Pop, a ship that has been sailing through the low lands since the mid-90s.

On April 24 this year, the Dutch record label Excelsior celebrated its 25th anniversary in the Amsterdam Paradiso. Daryll-Ann performed a one-time reunion. It was enchantingly beautiful. Jelle Paulusma is a great singer, and Anne Soldaat is an even better guitarist. I’ve seen a lot of concerts this year, YEAH, but it doesn’t get much better than that night in Paradiso.

When I saw on Bandcamp that Michael Simmons (Sparkle* Jets UK, Yorktown Lads) is going to release (Sept. 9) an EP covering only songs from Daryll-Ann’s Happy Traum, the band’s masterpiece, I was curious as to how that could have happened.

Michael explains: ‘Sometime around 2014 or 2016, when I was working on getting the Yorktown Lads LP pressed and looking for plants, I was watching a YouTube video about a pressing plant that had run on local TV in Amsterdam. It showed them putting together these fancy box sets of a band called Daryll-Ann, that I’d never heard of before. I wouldn’t have noticed, except that they called them a Power Pop band, which obviously made me wonder what they sounded like. I found the album and Happy Traum on Amazon music or something and downloaded it.

Back then, I did a lot of riding around town on my bicycle, listening to my Bluetooth speaker, and I fell in love with many of the songs on that album. And I immediately kept thinking about how fun it would be to record them for myself. When I really like a song, that’s often my reaction. Recording songs gives you extra time and intimacy with the material. It’s just like seeing an attractive person and wanting to get to know them better. Earlier this summer, I was again riding my bike around listening to that record and thinking I should just pick a few songs and do it.

So over the course of a few days last month, I just did, and Big Stir Records was kind enough to humor me and let me release it. It is a personal vanity project, but I hope that people will hear it and learn to love the songs like I do. My entire experience with music has always been wanting to share; whether it’s playing songs for people, which I’ve done since I was a little kid, or recording them, It’s all about sharing.

Regarding the song themselves or why I chose these, these, in particular, were the ones that really floored me off this album. There are other great ones on Happy Traum; they have a great catalog anyway.

I tried to get a copy of that box set for myself. Honestly, until I saw the documentary, I had never heard of Daryll-Ann, and I think only maybe one other person I know has any idea who they are. And I’ve been screaming about it ever since I found it telling people to check it out, and I don’t know if any of them ever have. So by making this little record may be just a few more people will be won over.

What I like about the songs is that they’re just really beautiful, and they can be sunny and dark and happy and brooding all at the same time. The guitar work is really interesting and kind of similar to the weird style that I play. I added a little more keyboard to it because that’s what I’m into now. I recorded the whole thing in about three days. I did the drums in 20 minutes and then did the rest, almost all by myself.

Susan from Sparkle* Jets UK, who would come by the house for a rehearsal, and I said, ‘Do you wanna sing on this?’, and she sang a few lines in five minutes. And there’s also a harmonica track by our friend Greg Carrol. I’ve never done harmonica on anything, and having that new texture was fun; ironically, there was a harmonica on the original that I hadn’t really thought about. I wasn’t trying to replicate that part; I just let him do whatever he felt like doing, and it came out really nice.

I’ve already talked about this for longer than it takes to listen to it.’.

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