In the Middle with Black Honey

Ahead of their huge UK tour and Live at Leeds performance, Eva sat down with Izzy, the “Queen of the Outsiders” and singer of Black honey, to find out more about the band.

You have a cinematic, whimsical, Tarentino sort of aesthetic associated with your music – has this always been the case for you or was it born with Black Honey?

It was a really good mix of the two. When we decided we were going to call ourselves Black Honey I was in an era of really experiencing cinema, and my ex-boyfriend showed me a Wes Anderson film for the first time. I was like – this is me. And at the same time he showed me David Lynch and got me the twin peaks boxset and I would just be watching twin peaks all the time writing songs; thinking yeah, this feels like me; this kind of music and this kind of visual.

How important is that visual identity now to you as a band?

Credit: Charlotte Patmore

It feels like a blessing and a curse. People tell us all the time “your band is only doing well because you’ve only got strong visuals.” Or you’ll get complimented on your aesthetic before you get complimented on your songwriting and that is so bizarre. To me aesthetic is just the way I can control the perception of us, and change how I view what we make and what we do, and the story I have to tell. I wonder if music videos will even exist in the future, or if it’ll just be Instagram, all behind the scenes videos.

Some of your lyrics have the imagery of James Dean, Lolita, Stick and Poke’s – are the lyrics at all autobiographical or more to fit in to that conceptual idea?

They’re really autobiographical. Every single word is the truth. I usually find that when I’m writing songs I’m either writing premonitions to myself with a weird sort of – I don’t think it’s actually real or applicable – and then two months later I’m like, right okay; that was just my subconscious trying to tell me something. Or I just sit and write a poem, and then, if I’m lucky, I can manifest an entire song from it, exactly to how that poem was originally spurted out. When that works for me I find that quite a rewarding time, because I find that sometimes music can be really jeopardising of poetic vision – you’re always trying to find a rhyme or something that adulterates the honesty of whatever the first thing is that came to you. So when it does happen it’s so rewarding – I love it.

Would you say you’re a writer before a musician then?

Kind of? Like I’d say I’m … I feel like naturally I’m a drawer, actually. I’m really good at drawing. Maybe not now, because my passion is music so I work hard to try and learn all the things in music that I think can be used to express myself, and I love music more. Drawing and poems are so important because I started a journal when I was 14 after being sent to the doctors for really bad mental health, and I got diagnosed with ADHD, and they gave me a journal to see if I could cope a bit better, and draw and write and stuff in that. I suffered from really bad nightmares as well, so I would draw the nightmares down and write my feelings out, and I think that became a really inherent part of my creative process, and I’d say that’s sort of a blueprint of everything I do now.

Are you ever scared about putting that much honesty into your work?

It’s really scary. You get used to that though because you sort of learn like – if something feels really uncomfortable you’re like, right, here’s the juicy bit. If it feels really cutting or really hard to say then that’s what you should be saying.

Do you have any fears with your music?

I worry about social media ruining my life. I think it is making me insane, like with my self-worth; it’s messing up my head and making me feel like I’m not good enough. And I’m pretty sturdy – it takes a lot to bum me out about something, because I know who I am, I know what I fucking stand for – and if it’s bumming me out, what’s it doing to everyone else?

One of my favourite songs off the record is Blue Romance; is there any interesting story surrounding that track?

Yeah, so – the stick and poke mention earlier was funny because my ex-boyfriend was covered in tattoos, and I practised my stick and poke on him. I wanted Blue Romance to be a twisted sort of love, like blue velvet, where the love that you have is really beautiful but it’s got this really very heavy, undercurrent to it. I’m really interested in the relationship between light and dark, and where darkness takes the relationship. Just a classical love story. It feels like a screenshot of a still in time.

Is your stage persona much different from yourself in everyday life?

Oh my god, yeah. In real life I think I’m very introverted, and very weird. I think I’m a big loser. And I like that- I like being a loser. Now. Now I do – now not having to be in school it’s great. But I think on stage its sort of like – I feel like I’m Queen of the losers. Or something. Queen of the outsiders.

Soon to be hitting the streets of Leeds at Live at Leeds, before heading off on a headline UK tour in May, “you can expect some unexpected pieces of music.” So, whatever you do, make sure you don’t miss Black Honey and their eclectic, enchanting sets.

Header Image Credit: Charlotte Patmore