Modern Life Elixir talk new album, Y2K revival and lotto tickets

We catch up with Canadian band Modern Life Elixir fresh off the release of their latest album  ‘You Don’t Have To Shovel Sunshine’ 

By now we hope you’re all up to speed with ‘You Don’t Have To Shovel Sunshine’, the latest album from Canadian band ​​Modern Life Elixir.

The 14-track project leans into technicoloured, Y2K textures, while tracing ideas of belonging and fleeing one’s home. There’s Mario Kart samples and rap-rock cuts, alongside hooky guitar lines and glitch pop. 

Modern Life Elixir review happy mag

All of it points to a band who’ve clearly mastered their sound. Below, we caught up with Modern Life Elixir for a deep dive into the creation of ‘You Don’t Have To Shovel Sunshine’, the idea of chasing the sun, and their affinity for scratchie lotto tickets.

Catch our full interview with the band below, and scroll down to listen to their new album.  

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: Not too much! Working at my day job and making music, I wish there was something more exciting going on but that’s okay. 

HAPPY: Tell us a little about where you live, what’s the scene like? What do you love about it?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: I live in a suburb outside of Toronto. Where I grew up, where I went to school, and where I live now, is all along the coast of Lake Ontario. It’s a fine place with its ups and downs.

The music scene here is interesting, I’m new to playing shows and being in a band, so I learn something new or meet someone new every time we play a show.

I may not be the best person to speak on it, all I know is some great bands are from here. There are lots of cool venues with a long history in the music scene.

What I like about the area is that it’s a versatile place. You can go downtown with all the noise and construction, drive north and get lost in farmlands, or you can go to the water and hang out alone. 

HAPPY: Your new album’s title, “You Don’t Have To Shovel Sunshine,” is a cheeky riff on Florida’s slogan. What inspired this theme of escaping the cold for sunnier pastures?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: The ideas started from a vision board I had of surf shop t-shirts and magnets from that area.

I have a lot of nostalgic memories of Florida, and the inspiration of ‘escaping the cold for the sun’ came about while drawing comparisons between taking a physical trip down to Florida, and the mental trip I was taking when looking back on those memories.

They were the same action being taken on two different levels, and at their core is a longing for escape to somewhere that seems better than where you’re at right now. 

HAPPY: The album’s drawn from the experience of Canadians flocking to Florida in winter. Did you witness this phenomenon firsthand, or draw inspiration from stories?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: It’s not something I have witnessed first hand. I know some people whose grandparents/parents leave Ontario for Florida during the winter months.

I think statistically there are a couple thousand Canadians that make the trip every winter, and I drew inspiration from this idea of being able to avoid the negative aspects of our environment all year.

Winter is not just a cold time of year temperature wise, but it really messes with your psyche, so the idea of ‘skipping out’ on that aspect of Canadian life was interesting enough to draw inspiration from.


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HAPPY: The album delves deeper than just a sunny escape though. Can you elaborate on the idea of seeking out easier paths and the emotions behind it?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: In my own life I don’t like to travel, I get incredibly homesick quickly, and I was trying to examine this part of me that so desperately wants to see the world, yet is so content with staying in the same place forever.

I wanted to open the album by looking at where I live the same way you’d view a place like Florida. Ontario has no ‘keys’, it is not a small island, but it feels like that to me.

A lot of the lyrical content is examining myself and people around me, in an attempt to figure out how to find ‘sunshine’ without having to leave.

HAPPY: The record channels a lot of early 2000s influences. What drew you back to that specific sound, and how did you modernize it for a fresh take?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: I think being a young and impressionable age around that time keeps me influenced by the sounds of that decade.

I don’t think it’s ever been incredibly purposeful on my end to try and sound like the early 2000’s, it’s a product of my age and the time I grew up in.

Modernizing the sound to me means leaning into my influences, but attempting song structures or instrumentation that is different enough to not be repeating the past.

When I hear something I’ve made and I’m drawn to it, I often get the feeling that ‘I have heard this before’, while simultaneously thinking ‘I have never heard this before’.  The key to making it work is realizing both are true, and can exist at the same time.

HAPPY: “Grass” is an album highlight. What makes this track so special for the band?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: I’d like to think there is a certain sound that comes out naturally, when you’re not trying to do something specific or write the greatest song in the world.

That’s when it’s just pure fun, and songs like this come about. I’m not entirely sure what makes it special, but maybe that’s why it is special. Something subconscious that only comes out when you’re feeling it, not thinking it.

HAPPY: Tracks like “Daylight” and “Dog” sound like pure, unadulterated fun.  Is there a specific energy you try to capture when writing these upbeat anthems?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: Our drummer Dave, and bass player Trevor, always have really humorous, and well thought out ideas for songs, so Daylight was an attempt at writing a song based on one of Trevors ideas.

There was no specific energy we were trying to capture, I just knew the guitar riff had an easy going momentum to it, and lyrically

I was trying to write about seeing dancers outside of their place of work, which given my awkwardness and lack of experience with that specific subject matter, I think resulted in something light hearted and fun that can hopefully be interpreted in a few different ways.

‘Dog’ is the same deal. I wanted to attempt to find ways to mix house/trance synths with a heavy metal lead, and the rest followed.

They were both born out of experimentation in terms of how we usually do things, so the energy was never specific, but somehow worked its way in to match what the songs are about.

HAPPY: “Psych” throws it back to early 2000s rap-rock.  Do you see yourselves revisiting these influences in the future, or is this a one-time thing?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: I can see us trying something similar in the future – we’re influenced by a lot of different types of music, and although there are some elements I can’t picture happening again, it’s still one of my favorite songs on the album, so there is something to take away from it. 

HAPPY: With this album under your belt, where do you see Modern Life Elixir heading next musically?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: It’s so hard to say, I find that around this time of year, we put something out into the world and I’m left thinking that’s all there is to give.

Then I get inspired by something down the line and it’s a chain reaction of events, to the point where this time next year I’ll have a whole other album that hopefully retains what makes us sound like ‘Modern Life Elixir’ while experimenting with some new sounds.

Right now, we’re focused on playing shows all summer and making our live set sound as good as possible. 

HAPPY: What makes you happy?

MODERN LIFE ELIXIR: Cats and dogs, scratch off lotto tickets, making new music, and practicing live with Dave and Trevor are up near the top of my list.

They are incredible bandmates that support my writing and share a similar vision as to what this band looks like in the long run, and it is usually the highlight of my week to hang out and make some noise with those two.