TGW Q+A: Hello Honne

Less than a year ago, HONNE, aka singer Andy Clutter and producer James Hatcher released their debut single Warm On A Cold Night, sending the worldwide web into lusty, nocturnal meltdown (see: winning the internet). Their newly released debut album ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ explores the quest for real and lasting love in the digital age.

Let’s get one important matter out of the way before I introduce you properly to this act. Goodness knows we can all go far with people’s names and characters from books, mispronouncing them wildly to anyone within earshot – Honne is a Japanese word used to describe a persons true feelings and desires, and it’s pronounced ‘Honn-nehh‘.

The lusty, late night romp of lead single Warm On A Cold Night could not be further from the reality of South West student-life that the band emerged from. Seemingly out of nowhere, but actually through hard work and dedication, this pair of part-time music teachers from Bow in East London perfectly bottled the slightly drunken summer night, and produced an album. Producer James Hatcher describes their sound as,

‘…the kind of music you might listen to on a late night drive in the summer through the city with the windows down, cool breeze coming in. Bathed in the city lights.’

 

HONNE’s debut album captures, they say, the good days and bad of relationships in 2016 – a time where we’re told to settle for nothing less than a soulmate and yet risk treating dating like any other online experience, browsing endlessly, swiping left or right, and weighing up any of the overwhelming number of choices all around us.

 

Intrigued, we invited James Hatcher to complete a Q+A with your ‘Garb Wire’, to demonstrate his willingness to complete even the utmost of banal administrative tasks. Thanks, good sport.

 

TGW: Can you tell us about the inspiration for the lyrics in Someone That Loves You? 

JH: The idea behind those lyrics came from Izzy actually! We’re still trying to find out the answer to this ourselves. We’ll get it out of her next time we see her!

TGW: How did Izzy Bizu come to appear on the song?

JH: It all stemmed from Twitter. She mentioned that she’d been listening to us, so we reached out and said we should hang out and write a track together. Within a week or two she was around at our studio and we made this track. There was lots of laughter, pizza and dancing. It was kinda like a chick flick. Haha. It was pretty much finished in one day. A lot of the best tracks happen that easily and quickly.

TGW: Your album Warm On A Cold Night ‘strives for love in a digital age’.  Can you explain more what this means to you? How has ‘the love story’ changed from say, 20 years ago? Can people really find ‘the one’ anymore?

JH: Well I am the prime example of love in the digital age. I (James) met my girlfriend on Tinder. Yikes! Not sure I should admit this, but still.

‘I am the prime example of love in the digital age. I (James) met my girlfriend on Tinder.’

But I think we’re pretty romantic guys, and when we say ‘striving for love in the digital age’, we mean bringing it back to what really matters; kind words, loving gestures, treating people right (check out track ‘Treat You Right’ 😉 ). Not constant texting, short attention spans, and staring into your phone rather than enjoying being together, which you see time and time again these days.

TGW: How do you feel the transformation has been from being part-time music teachers in Bow, to internationally regarded recording artists? 

JH: It’s been a pretty mad and surreal experience. I think maybe it seems like it’s been a fast transition from the general public’s perception. But to us we’ve been working so hard, writing so much music, being patient and excited for a long time, that it seems very gradual. We’re always raring to go and want to play bigger shows, meet more people and see more of the world.

TGW: Do you find it easy to delegate to producers, or are you pedantic about your work?

JH: Ermmm. We’re definitely on the pedantic side. Someone we work with has referred to us as being anally retentive, which we take as a compliment! We produced the album ourselves and we love that side of it. Having said that, we absolutely love working with other people, and if someone has a great idea we are always up for giving it a go. Collaborating is something that we’ll be doing more of going forward, so watch this space! [TGW editor note to James: Thanks for making me check correct spelling of ‘anally retentive’.]

TGW: Your music has been described as ‘both quintessentially of the moment yet charmingly gentleman-like in your worldview’. Who are your biggest music heroes from the present and the past (or, in fact, the future)?

JH: Ohhh the futureee. I have been to the future, and there is some incredible music, but I can’t tell you without altering the time line. Sorry.

When I was a kid I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. MJ was the first gig I ever went to, at Wembley Stadium, and it blew my mind. He had a tank onstage. How can anyone compete with that? And still to this day he’s a huge influence on me, along with Quincy Jones’ production of course.

‘Right now we are loving Chance The Rapper. His album is incredible. Anderson Paak too. Rhye are great. And Inc. – two brothers from LA who make amazing R&B (and who, my sources tell me, are dropping a new album very soon). Another love of ours is Bon Iver, who I listen to almost every time I’m travelling.’

TGW: Where were you when you learned that David Bowie/Prince had left this earth? 

JH: Such devastating news and huge losses. They’ve inspired so much over their careers, we can’t even begin to imagine.

I remember when we heard about Prince. We were waiting back stage waiting to play a show in London. Everyone was so shocked.

TGW: Your music sounds like…

JH: A late night drive, it’s summer, the windows are down, there’s a cool breeze flowing in through the windows, you’ve got no destination in mind and you’ve got your loved one in the passenger seat next to you.

TGW: Who do you dream of collaborating with?

JH: Probably the ultimate right now would be Kendrick Lamar. Everything he does is gold. And we love how his production spans so many genres. It’s really inspiring.

TGW: Do you see the natural connection between music and style? 

JH: They go hand in hand. Music sounds a certain way, but when you listen to music it also puts an image in your head. And it’s important that style enhances that in some way to make the whole thing makes sense.

‘Music sounds a certain way, but when you listen to music, it also puts an image in your head. And it’s important that style enhances that in some way to make the whole thing make sense.’

TGW: If Alessandro Michele got in touch and wanted to use your music for a Gucci runway show, what would be your first response?

JH: Here is a download link, take your pick.

TGW: What are some of your closet favourite songs?

JH: Well we’re 90’s boys really, so we grew up with some real classics. Bills, bills, bills by Destiny’s Child will forever hold a place in my heart. Craig David‘s hits. Good to see Craig back in the game now too, he’s still got it!

TGW: What is the newest song that you’re listening to at the moment (on repeat)?

JH: It’s not new but we only found this yesterday – ‘Why iii Love The Moon‘ by Phony Ppl.

TGW: Is Glastonbury the ultimate festival to play at? If not, what is yours?

JH: I think it might be. I think the ultimate experience as a musician is probably the main evening slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. I think it’d be an emotional experience. We might need a few more people to know about us before that can happen!

TGW: Which band or artist from your childhood inspired you to become a musician? 

JH: Jeff Buckley was a big one for both of us. I was obsessed, read the biography, got the DVD. His voice, guitar playing and songwriting were all hugely inspirational.

TGW: 1989. Taylor Swift or Ryan Adams?

JH: Ohh a tough one. Maybe Ryan Adams, purely for the nostalgia.

TGW: What is your current style obsession?

JH: Trainers. We have so many pairs of trainers now, it’s getting silly. I’ve recently started branching out into white trainers, which is a big move for me.

TGW: What are some song lyrics that have stuck with you? 

JH: I love these lyrics by Thom Yorke. It’s in a beautiful song called ‘The Eraser’:

The more, the more, the more you try the eraser

The more, the more, the more that you appear.

TGW: Some people believe that being happy can stifle creativity. What’s your experience?

JH: I guess it depends on how you write and what you’re writing about. For me, I have to feel calm and relaxed to be able to write. If I’m unhappy, anxious or nervous I find it hard to focus on what I’m doing.

TGW: What’s your warm up ritual just before you walk on stage?

JH: Andy is a bit of a pacer. He walks around and sings quietly. It’s not as creepy as it sounds.

When we play live we play with a drummer, bass player and backing vocalist. So just before we play we huddle and get ourselves psyched up for the show.

‘Andy is a bit of a pacer. He walks around and sings quietly. It’s not as creepy as it sounds.’

TGW: Have you ever been to Australia?

JH: Andy has travelled round Australia for a bit. I spent a month on holiday there too actually when I was younger with my family and we went up the East coast. It’s a great place and we’re reallllly hoping we get to play there soon.

TGW: What’s next for you?

JH: Tomorrow we head off on our US tour. Then we’ve got more festivals, a European tour, UK tour, another US tour, shows in Japan and South Korea. So yeh, quite a lot of touring basically. And of course we’ll be writing tracks for our next record. And hopefully visiting more parts of the world over the next year!

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