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In Conversation: Black Honey - We work with stale pale males

by Alicia Pollitt. Published Sun 01 May 2022 12:05

Shaping a western universe out of squalling guitars, vivid colours and cinematic vignettes, there’s no other British band out there like Black Honey.

Bursting onto the scene in 2014, the four-piece indie rock band flecked a barrage of piercing screams and twanging surf-rock with their debut track ‘Spinning Wheel’ and have continued to build their own surrealist world ever since.

Having perfected the indie game over the years, their long-anticipated second album, ‘Written & Directed’, is out now and sees a reestablishment of their sound through infections 90s style rock riffs and dark instrumentals.

Exploring modern-day womanhood through strong indie-rock tracks, ‘Written & Directed’ was inspired by an appreciation for Tarantino and makes strives to fill the void for female voices in the music industry which, during our Zoom chat, Izzy B. Philips touches on.

PR: Let’s get straight into it! I saw that you were looking at hiring women/non-binary people as a director for your next music video. I like how you specified the terms in your posts and was wondering why hiring a woman/non-binary person is important to you?

“I think because, firstly, most of the people we work with are white stale pale males and with our music being about the female lens and repurposing the gaze of rock ‘n’ roll, shooting a video directed by only males is weird right?”

PR: I think that’s a great philosophy and respect you for making that move.

“It’s passed the point of why is it important as now it’s something that I can’t control [hiring/having more females in the industry].

“We finished this tour once and I think it was with Of Monsters and Men. The day it finished, they said to us that Black Honey is great because it will always be me so even if we tried to be anything else, we just couldn’t.

“I also want to be able to give people the right opportunities to explore their own talents! I think that’s quite important to us.”

PR: In an old interview, you mentioned that your journey to becoming a band was different to how you’ve seen others do it. Are you able to elaborate on that?

“Basically, we rehearsed for four years solid before anyone gave us a look over. We released music without a press photo for roughly a year and it worked out.

“When we did start touring, it went really fast. We didn’t sign a major label deal and walked our own path to do everything independently. It felt non-conventional in a way but right for us.”

PR: Sticking with approaches, what is your approach to writing? How do you craft such catchy tunes and where do the ideas come from?

“It varies! Sometimes it’ll be a band effort and sometimes I’ll do it on my own.

“Recently, I’ve been writing loads with other people because I’m trying to learn about the process and working with people that are interesting and inspiring to me. I just love collaboration.

“I think there’s so much protective, almost narcissistic shame, around having to be the sole master of every single aspect in this universe and now, I want to focus on bringing in other people’s ideas. There’s nothing to be ashamed of about that. I have nothing to hide.

“No old dude is telling us what we should make. It’s all me and I like working with people because their job is to understand my vision. Creating relationships like that works really well for me.”

PR: I think there's something special about collaborating with people who understand your vision. It helps you get the best out of your creative side. I understand that you’ve mentioned ‘Written & Directed’ is inspired by Tarantino as you’ve also mentioned that you’re a big fan. What parts were mostly inspired by him?

“I wouldn’t say it’s any of his existing films because I feel like that would be artistically invasive to the vision he worked hard to create. I feel like it would be a bit cheap to ride alongside his current films.

“I have written a song for Pulp Fiction. Now that is a piece of work! The thing I like about Tarantino is that he inspired me through the way he protects women. Having said that, I know it’s a problematic hero to have as I’m still learning about things he did that weren’t cool.

“Artistically he’s still a huge inspiration in terms of everything I’ve learned but yeah, I’m still figuring the rest of it out.”

PR: Going off of what you’ve discovered, is it important to you to separate art from artists and the things they’ve done or is that something you find hard to do?

“Separating it might be healthy but I also don’t think we’re going to be doing anyone any favours by still streaming artists’ things because we like their art. Like, if we’re aggressively streaming Michael Jackson, I don’t know.

“We forgive humans more than we should have historically speaking but I think it’s important that we reconsider listening to their music if they’ve done so much f*cked up shit.

“I’m upset that we can’t listen to Michael Jackson in the same way anymore. ‘Thriller’ comes on every Halloween and that’s fine if it’s on, I just wouldn’t actively go and put it on if that makes sense.

“I now have a conscious understanding of the person behind it rather than hearing it and seeing what they’ve done. I’m being aware of it all.”

PR: I get that, it’s better to be aware of it and aim to separate it when/if possible. Moving on, when did you first discover that music was something you wanted to do?

“I was awakened in school. We had the most boring music classes ever and I hated them. They always had those weird Casio keyboards that you can never programme the sounds of.

“One week though, we did ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles and I remember feeling like I could deeply relate to the longing for something.

“I remember being like wow, Paul McCartney is never going to get back whatever he’s lost again. How profound.”

PR: With remembering those moments, do you have any fond memories of realising you had a talent?

“Oh my god no. I’ve never felt like I’ve had a talent.”

PR: You know that’s not true! You guys are great.

“I’ve honestly never felt it! Like yeah, I’m talented at this but I’ve never truly felt it or have any fond memories of realising I was good at this.

“If I had to pick, maybe a school concert I played once? I played a song and I liked it, that’s the closest I can give.”

PR: Concerts! We love them. Do you have any pre-stage rituals?

“I do a little run-through of chords I want to revise and a shot of tequila! We also like a good band hug.”

PR: Shot of tequila hahaha, that’s great to hear. Finally, what else can we expect from Black Honey for the rest of this year?

“I’m doing a lot of guest appearances at other people’s shows over the next month and we’ve got a few festivals lined up. We’re playing the main stage at Reading & Leeds this year. You can maybe expect some new things too!”



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