The members of Happy Landing, a local indie folk band, released their debut EP on Aug. 7, 2020, and since then, they’ve amassed hundreds of fans.
The band came to be after lead singer and songwriter Matthew Hendley spent a semester in New York studying at The King’s College and interning at CBS with 60 Minutes.
Hendley, a senior journalism major, has been playing music for as long as he can remember, and Happy Landing is reviving his passion for it. Only thinking of music as a hobby, he didn’t consider pursuing his passion as a career, but during his internship in New York, he said the only thing on his mind was music.
“I really enjoyed the internship, but every single day I was constantly thinking about music, and writing music and starting a band,” Hendley said. “That’s when I realized maybe I should keep pursuing music.”
The band first debuted its EP “She’s Got Brooklyn” with a backyard release party last August. Hendley said he did not expect the show to attract as much attention for the band as it did. What he thought would be a “one and done” performance for the band became a stepping stone for him and his bandmates to release more music and even travel to perform.
Happy Landing’s latest single “Coastal Town” was released on March 26 and can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music.
With COVID-19 restrictions weighing heavily on the band since its inception, booking shows has been difficult for Happy Landing. After Gov. Tate Reeves and the Oxford Board of Aldermen lifted mask mandates in the state and Lafayette County, Happy Landing has found luck in scheduling live performances. The band’s next show will be held at Proud Larry’s on April 9.
For Hendley, the unique name Happy Landing holds childhood memories of summer days spent playing music with his family when his grandfather would tell stories about his time spent in the U.S. military.
He explained that before soldiers would jump out of airplanes, they would say, “I hope you have a happy landing.”
According to Hendley, his grandfather named the property he lives on “Happy Landing” because he hoped it could be a place where his family could come together.
“Since that’s the first place I started playing music for people. I was like, “oh man. That’s the perfect name for a band,” Hendley said.
The band can be described as indie folk, but after consideration, Hendley and his bandmates decided to create their own genre of music. They call themselves America’s first skate folk band. Hendley described their sound as relating to artists such as The Lumineers, The Head and The Heart, Mumford and Sons, and Vance Joy.
“We all kind of dress like skaters,” Hendley said. “We wear Vans, and we kind of dress hipster. I could totally see someone riding a skateboard down a hill, like shredding down a hill, listening to Happy Landing.”
After spending the last four years studying and pursuing a career in journalism, Hendley has decided to take a different route after he graduates. He will be putting off journalism to fully pursue his passion for music.
Vocalist and international studies major Keegan Lyle said she and her bandmates are eager to share their music with the world in the future. They plan to continue playing live shows as often as possible.
“I see us putting out our first full-length album, making a name for ourselves and going on tour,” Lyle said. “It’s idealistic, but with the people and passion we have in this group it is totally possible. We are all determined to make things happen.”
She said that balancing time with the band and her pre-existing schedule has been difficult but challenged her and helped her grow as a person.
“Being in this band has already added a whole new dimension to my college experience, and I get really excited thinking about how we may be able to continue playing together after we all graduate,” Lyle said.
Hendley has high hopes for the future of Happy Landing as they plan to relocate to Nashville within the next year. He thinks the raw talent that each member of the group brings to the table gives the band the potential to go far in the music industry.
“The future of this band could drastically change at any moment,” Hendley said. “I believe in my whole heart that this band could and should be able to make it.”