In the Middle with HONNE
Ever since the pair of producers met at uni, electro-soul duo HONNE have been crafting their own, deeply personal brand of late night R&B. Bringing together soul, synth and funky bass with intimate lyrics, many have affectionately dubbed the band “baby-making music for the 21st century”. Currently touring their heartfelt debut Warm On A Cold Night, we caught up with singer and co-producer Andy to talk soul, stylistic influence and surviving a zombie apocalypse…
So, where does the name HONNE come from?
It comes from the Japanese word for “true feelings”- very personal emotions that you might only share with close friends. I’m quite a fan of Japan myself, but it was actually James who stumbled across the word! We just thought it suits what we do.
And does that mantra of “true feelings” feed into your music?
Well I write a lot of the lyrics, so the songs always tend to be about things personal to our lives. But we found the name about five or six songs in, so the name kinda fitted the songs rather than the other way round. Choosing a band name is so hard though! We just didn’t want it to be rubbish, but I guess all band names are rubbish ‘til you make something of yourself.
You’ve got a very warm sound, bringing elements of soul together with electronic backing. What influences your style?
When we first started writing, we listened to a lot of James Blake and this band called Rhye- real late night sorta vibes, so I guess that’s where we get that. Then I also love Ink, more late night R&B stuff. James actually loves Michael Jackson too; that was the first gig he ever went to. He said the guy had a jetpack and a tank onstage…
There’s some very personal songs on Warm On A Cold Night; are they addressed to anyone in particular? Or is it a more general message?
I guess yeah, they are addressed to the special people in our lives, in a way. But they’re not all necessarily dedications of romantic love; some of them are more general, or concerned with friends, family and platonic love. And our early single ‘Love The Jobs You Hate’, that line was actually lifted from a Mr Muscle advert, after an argument I had with a housemate… So there you go!
What’s your creative process like? How did the two of you start making music together?
Well, me and James met at uni on the first day, and found we liked a lot of the same music. We used the same software too, so within a couple of days we were writing together. Over the last eight years, we’ve almost become the same person! Kind of like an old married couple, actually…
You mentioned jetpacks and tanks before… Can we expect any of that from you at Brudenell this month?
Haha, I’ll try and make that happen for you! But yeah, we’ll play a bunch from the new album. We want to try and perform some stuff from our old EP’s too, cause it’d be a shame to leave those tunes out.
Now for the wildcard… There’s been a Zombie apocalypse, and you can pick three tracks to get you through. You game?
Haha for sure man. Let’s go!
Okay, so first up you need a tune that’ll help you run like hell from zombies.
Hmm okay. One that I’d run like hell to… Probably something by The Prodigy. Yeah I’d go with ‘Breathe’. That’d definitely get me running!
Next, you’ve found a hiding place, and you need a song to keep you sane at night. What do you go with?
Right. I’d go with this tune by Chance The Rapper. His this song called ‘Angels’, it’s just a really positive, happy song. It sounds like everyone was smiling when they did their vocal takes, you can hear it in the music! That’d keep me feeling upbeat, and like I’m not gonna get eaten by zombies.
Lastly, we need a soundtrack to your heroic last stand…
Okay, I’m trying to picture it here. I guess ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or something. I don’t wanna go with that, but I can’t think of anything else. Actually, you know what, it was the first thing that came to my head. And it would look pretty epic…
Well, thanks very much, Andy! We look forward to seeing you in Leeds.
Yeah for sure, hopefully we can catch up there! See ya.
You can catch HONNE at Leeds Brudenell Social Club on Thursday 27th of October.
Interview by Sam Corcoran