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Honey Magpie talk to Purple Revolver all about their second album Midnight Morning, vulnerability and nostalgic feelings

by Khyle Medany. Published Wed 09 Dec 2020 11:00, last updated: 07/12/20

Honey Magpie are back with their second album, Midnight Morning, we spoke to them several years ago when their debut, self titled album was released.

Now, we've had the pleasure of speaking to them again a few months after their new album is out. In this interview, topics delved into include embracing vulnerability, evolution of artistic style and the under-appreciated process of putting together a great track-listing. You can check out our interview below:

PR: How was the process of releasing Midnight Morning, it was released later than anticipated, did 2020 inspire any last minute songs or influence the album in any way? What were the biggest challenges in releasing this album later than expected?

HM: We didn't add any new songs. The album was already complete, we were just hoping to be able to wait out Covid and do a live release show in the fall. That ended up not being possible, so I'd say the biggest challenge was that disappointment, and not being able to tour to support the album.

PR: While we’re discussing the process of putting Midnight Morning together, you released some songs ahead of the official release, how did you decide which songs to let us listen to first? What was the thought behind the track listing for Midnight Morning? It kind of feels like people don’t appreciate the art and the flow of a well put together track list these days. Can you tell us about that?

HM: In terms of releasing singles, I think we just tried to make our best guesses about which songs would resonate the most at which times. We originally planned to release just two, but when we delayed the album, we decided to release a few more while people waited for the release date.

In terms of ordering the album, we were mainly looking for a good flow from track to track. I think we wanted to start with Midnight Morning and end with Smallest Grains of Sand because they were good representatives for the theme of the album. But other than that, we just tried out different orders until we found one that sounded good.

PR: Now the band has gone through some changes in the last 3 years, being cut basically in half, you’re now a duo, how has that adjustment been?

HM: The adjustment has been pretty smooth. We're collaborating with another singer-songwriter and a violinist now, so our sound is going to stay pretty similar: three-part harmonies and classical strings. But just being in a band in general has been a challenge this year because of Covid, since we can't perform live, and even struggle with livestreaming safely.

PR: Do each of you have a favourite lyric from the album? While it might be a tougher question, how about a favourite song?

HM: I don't know, it's hard to choose! For me (Pippa), one of my own lyrics I like a lot is in Baggage and Walls "and I'm glad for / every tool I've kept out." I like it because in the chorus before, I say "and I'm glad for / every tool I've picked up" and I think it's funny to use the word "tool" in very different ways in the same song. That lyric was also a change I made right before we recorded, and I was happy I added in that joke at the last second.

In terms of favorite songs, I really love a lot of them, but one of Rachael's that I'm constantly praising is "The Old Routine." I think the imagery is really good and the parallels between the present and the past are really well-done, and it's sweet without being even a little bit sappy.

This is so tough!! I (Rachael) will also say I love that lyric in Baggage and Walls. It's even better to know that it was added in at the last second. I also love all of the lyrics in Sweet Tooth. But my favorite lyrics from it are: "He'll grind you like an organ till your pins and staples cry, grind you like an organ till you die." The idea of someone grinding the organ to make the music of its pins and staples come out, is such a perfect metaphor.

It's hard to pick a favorite song! I think they have all been my favorite at various times. Sometimes I'll listen to the album and be like, oh this song! I like how it came out! Right now, I have been doing that with Sweet Tooth. It's such a cool song, and I feel like I am always discovering new things that I like about it. I also love the bass line at the end. Another song that has a special significance to me is Smallest Grains of Sand. I wrote it at a time when I had these really intense feelings of nostalgia and longing, and that song helped me to process those feelings. The same can be said about When the Darkness Comes. Whenever I sing those songs, I experience those emotions again, and in a way that honors them.

PR: Now your debut album, Honey Magpie, for me at least, as mentioned previously, had an Autumn vibe to it, while it was great to listen all year round of course, it was a gorgeous experience listening to it when walking through autumn leaves. It was also filled with fairytale musings, they pleasantly continue on Midnight Morning, and as hinted at in our previous chat Pippa, there’s a darker tone to it, Sweet Tooth especially haha. Tell us a bit about that song?

It's kind of funny, but Sweet tooth wasn't originally a Honey Magpie song. I (Pippa) thought it was a little too dark for HM, and was planning to record it solo at some point. But our former violinist found it and wanted to do it, so we started playing it.

I wrote about this song in detail on our Instagram a while back, so I'll just paste what I wrote here:

"I (Pippa) have been a huge Dostoevsky fan since high school. If you’ve read much Dostoevsky, you probably noticed a motif of organ grinders in his work. A barrel organ plays the same song over and over, and only when the grinder turns the crank. So I thought it was a great image to represent lacking agency and being forced into repetitive drudgery, and it’s something I’ve wanted to use in a song ever since I read about it. When I started writing “Sweet Tooth,” a song about a woman in a terrible relationship, I knew it was a perfect fit."

"Daughter all my faith in God's been pulled out like a splinter / but if that faith's still stuck in you, then pray you'll be a spinster

For me (Pippa), this line is the apex of the song. I’m an unmarried woman who lives alone and likes it. But there’s not much in pop culture celebrating my lifestyle. Heterosexual marriage is still framed as a woman’s ticket to happiness, and being single, especially as you get older, is framed as a terrible fate to be avoided at all costs. So, I wanted to write a song that subverted that narrative, where spinsterhood is the ideal life that can save you from certain misery, rather than the other way around."

PR: What do you both think are the biggest changes on this new record compared to your debut album?

HM: I think the biggest change is this album has a greater range, both emotionally and musically. Honey Magpie was overall warm and sweet, but this album has songs about sadness, disappointment, and nostalgia. To me (Rachael), this album feels fearless and vulnerable. We sang about topics that are not often talked about, like fear of failure. We also weren't afraid to make a ridiculous bop of a song about unicorns and rainbows.

PR: What’s the overall message you’d love listeners to come away with when listening to Midnight Morning?

HM: Our biggest hope is that these songs resonate with people. We want listeners to feel comforted in that no one has it all figured out. If they feel like they should be further along in their career or life, maybe they will hear our songs and stop being so hard on themselves. We hope that they experience the wide range of emotions on this album. We mostly hope that they feel like they're "riding on a unicorn that is also a pegasus" while listening to Dancing under a Rainbow.

PR: Huge thanks again for your time and the remarkably beautiful music you’re continuing to pour out, it’s certainly appreciated. Until next time Honey Magpie! :)

HM: Thank you Khyle!!! Maybe we will see you at a show in person one day.

Big thanks again to Honey Magpie for chatting to us again, Honey Magpie's music can be purchased here

Follow Honey Magpie on Twitter @HoneyMagpie, Instagram @HoneyMagpieBand and on Facebook at HoneyMagpieBand



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