Smooth. This is how best to sum up the music by Andy and James, the London-based duo behind soulful electronic group HONNE. With a sound you can’t help but nod your head to, each song has the ability to both emulate and mute city life.
If you haven’t already heard of HONNE, you will soon. Having just played a sold out gig at The Laundry in Hackney, a hugely popular set at The Great Escape festival with stretching queues, and most recently a performance at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend – plus upcoming festivals Field Day and Latitude just around the corner – the pair are clearly on the cusp of something big. Get to know HONNE a little better before everyone else in our exclusive interview.
Why HONNE – what’s the name all about?
Andy: HONNE is a Japanese word. We kind of stumbled across it, but looked into it and discovered its meaning. Basically it means true feelings, but it’s a bit more complicated in that it’s feelings you keep to yourselves or share with only your closest companions. It’s a huge part of their culture. And there’s tatemae [Tatemae Recordings is the name of their record label] as well, which is what you give out to the public – it’s kind of your public display. But we fell in love with the word HONNE, and we thought it worked really well with the music that we were writing and what we were talking about. And Japan – I love it. James has never been. It’s so good. I’ve kind of been there a lot, well not too much recently, but spent a couple of months there in the last year. And I think it’s a great place, and I really want to go back. Hopefully we’ll get together with the band.
How did you meet and actually begin the band?
Andy: We met six or seven years ago. James was the first person I met at uni, and vice versa. It was love at first sight, obviously.
James: A couple of days later we started just writing music together, and we’ve written music together pretty much exclusively for all that time, but it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that HONNE was started.
How would you describe your sound?
James: We like to describe it as the kind of music you’d listen to on a late night drive. Driving through a city with the windows down on a warm night.
The video for Coastal Love is pretty unusual. What is the story behind it?
Andy: We received this treatment from the director, and when we first read it we were like “Hmm. Interesting…” But actually we fell in love with the idea. It was hard for us to work out what it would look like, but we spent a bit of time speaking to him. And I’m so glad we went with it because it turned out to be amazing.
James: When we first saw it we were quite taken aback, because every single shot we feel is beautifully executed.
Your work with music has been described as a ‘steady rise’, but it actually seems like it’s been quite a quick process. What has it been like for you?
James: The internet has made it possible for it to work like this, hasn’t it? We released our first track in July last year… I guess it seems sudden to people, but before that we’d written together for almost nine months. So we had something like fifteen songs before we even showed our friends. And then by the time we’d released Warm On A Cold Night, we had loads of songs, and now we’ve got almost double that. So it was a long process for us, and really hard to hold off.
Andy: We always wanted to show something online. It was so hard.
James: The first song we wrote we were like “we want to put this on the internet now!”. People picked up on it really quickly on the internet which was really overwhelming. A real relief.
Andy: It’s really exciting. It seems like there’s all these little things happening. It’s just great.
James: Yeah, but it has been gradual in the sense that we’re doing more and more all the time.
James: We’ve got quite a few festivals lined up over the summer. Another release will be coming out, another EP in the next couple of months.
Andy: We’re just working on the album, which will hopefully be coming out next year at some point. It’s all just building up to that, working out which songs to use, because as we said earlier we’ve written a whole load. So just working out which ones will go together best.
HONNE are at Field Day on Sat. 6th June – limited weekend tickets available here.
Watch the video for their latest EP ‘Coastal Love’ below, which is available to download here.