Like a rare Pokemon or the Australian women’s rowing team, it seems that HONNE have just appeared out of nowhere.
The East London electro-soul duo dropped their debut album, Warm on a Cold Night, last week to rave reviews but it wasn’t too long ago that they were just starting out.
Producer James Hatcher and Singer/Producer Andy Clutter first met at university a few years ago and bonded quickly over music, in particularly Radiohead’s In Rainbows.
‘I don’t think it can get any better than that album,’ James says.
Originally from West England, the duo now both reside in East London, a place which they describe as a hub for musical and artistic talent.
‘Everybody we know lives in East or North-East London and everybody is a musician, so you’re completely enveloped within this scene,’ Andy explains.
Naturally, their home has driven HONNE to work on their craft daily and become more refined musicians.
‘I live with 3 other musicians and there are sounds coming from every wall and floor. You’re talking about music all the time and sharing it and getting inspired by it,’ Andy says.
The first years were a learning curve for the duo, working tirelessly to improve their production and songwriting skills. As their skills grew, they began to experiment to find a unique sound. The duo stumbled onto the hybrid genre of electro-soul, which they affectionally dub as ‘baby-making music’. They quickly began writing Warm on a Cold Night and suddenly their dream turned into a livelihood.
But really, for James and Andy, it was only a matter of time.
‘Being in a band and touring and releasing music is something we always wanted to do,’ James explains, ‘but for some reason it wasn’t the right time before, so when we sat down and wrote Warm on a Cold Night, we threw everything into it.’
Indeed, the duo had each been writing songs on their own for a long time. Andy began recording his own songs at age 12, teaching himself guitar, drums and bass.
‘It was just my own little thing’ Andy says.
‘Andy has actually recorded a full album by himself…and you know, it’s actually pretty good,’ James chuckles.
With the writing of Warm on a Cold Night, HONNE aimed to instil electronic music with what they deem as ‘normal songwriting’. In something as subjective and varied as music, I was interested to hear by what parameters the duo defined as normal within the craft of songwriting.
‘What we like about traditional songwriting is that there is a story involved. There is a beginning middle and end,’ Andy explains, ‘obviously we listen to electronic music and are heavily influenced by it. Don’t get us wrong, we love it. But with electronic it can become quite repetitive and we wanted to take elements from both and mix the two’
In the simplest of terms, HONNE aim to deliver songs that can either be blasted on a Funktion One’s or performed with merely a piano and vocals and still stand up.
‘We didn’t really want to go too far into the electronic music where there isn’t really a song behind it’ James adds.
While HONNE is a two-man project in the studio, on the road HONNE comprise a 6-person live band, featuring guitars, drums and supporting vocals.
‘With a live band, every show is different,’ Andy explains, ‘We never wanted to be two guys stuck behind a laptop.’
Moving forward into future recordings, HONNE expect to expand the live instrumentation.
‘I would love to get some live drums on the record moving forward. At the moment, it’s all heavily programmed. But on a couple of songs, we have used samples of an actual drumbeat. But I would love to get an actual drummer,’ Andy says.
A critically formative time in the band’s development was spent with stints living in Japan. Japanese culture plays a highly influential role in their aesthetic and image. Indeed the name HONNE itself means ‘true feelings’ in Japanese.
‘Before I went to Japan and load of my friends were in love with it and that got me intrigued with it.’ Andy elaborates, ‘My girlfriend lived there and I was like right I’m going to do that too. It’s a crazy, it’s amazing and completely different to what we’re used to’
The time away became a creative drive for the duo, spurring the creation of a number of new songs including ‘No Place Like Home’, which is about the feeling of loneliness Andy suffered in a city with a population of 13 million people.
Nevertheless, with all this action and growth I had to wonder if HONNE have any plans to visit our shores.
‘We’re working on it and hoping to come in January but we’re abit worried we might melt. It’s hot in January isn’t it?
You betcha mate.
‘We'll just get off the plane and evaporate immediately.’
Well we sure hope not.
HONNE's debut album, Warm on a Cold Night, is out now
Alex Capper, once affectionally called by Ross & John of 3AW as the '7 foot fucker', loves the Essendon Football Club, stalking reddit and dabbing. He thinks he can speak French, but he can't.