If you follow these pages closely, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the soulful embrace of electronic-pop outfit, HONNE. When the duo of James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck burst onto the scene at the tail-end of 2014, we had a feeling they were destined for great things. And with the release of their debut album, Warm On A Cold Night, they’ve lived up to, and well exceed our expectations. Naturally, when we were asked if we would like to chat with the boys earlier this year, we jumped at the chance.
In our brief conversation, we discuss everything from the origins of their name, their fascination with Japanese culture and the sound that has garnered them a legion of followers. Read our full conversation below.
According to Wikipedia, Honne and Tatemae “are Japanese words that describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires (本音 hon’ne ?, “true sound”) and the behaviour and opinions one displays in public (建前tatemae ?, “built in front”, “façade”).What is your relationship with Japanese culture and what role does it play in your music, if any?
It kind of started when a few of my friends visited Japan. I (Andy) heard so much about it from them and was so intrigued. Then the opportunity came around and I lived out in Tokyo for a couple of months and completely fell in love with it. Aesthetically, it’s amazing, and culturally it’s so interesting. We ended up writing some music whilst I was in Tokyo and James was in London – our track ‘No Place Like Home’ is one example. It’s a very inspiring place.
Speaking of Japanese culture, can you tell us what is written on the cover of your new album?
Yes – so it says our name, the album title and then a personal note from us which reads:
“We are delivering our new album ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ to you. Please dance, sing and enjoy! – from HONNE.” + Soul / Electro duo have just released their debut album with little melancholic mood songs mixed with dance tracks!
How would you describe your “sound” in three words to someone who hasn’t heard your music?
In an interview with FACT, you revealed that 80% of your music listening is done in the car. With that in mind, what’s your favourite song to listen to on the road?
If it’s a long journey and I (James) need something to relax, I’ll go for Bon Iver. Anything by him. But let’s go with “Perth.” But if it’s a hot day and the windows are down, it’d have to be “Why iii Love The Moon” by Phony Ppl.
In a separate interview, you told presenter Julie Adenuga that you had written 15 or 20 songs before you released your first single. Was it always your intention to release a full body of work? Have any of those songs you discussed gone unreleased?
Yes it was. The album was always the end goal. We wanted to write a lot and make sure that all the songs on the album were special and brought something unique to the table. It’s easy to write 12 songs and settle on that and say ‘there, the album is done’. But we wanted to go further than that. And yep, some songs that we were really passionate about but needed it a bit more work will hopefully be on the next record or released in some form between now and then.
Songs like “Good Together,” “It Ain’t Wrong Loving You” and “Take You High” all have a distinct gospel feel. Who or what is the influence behind this sound?
That’s true. We’ve always been into the harmonies/chords used in gospel and soul music. And whilst writing those songs in particular, I remember us turning to each other and saying ‘ah man, how good would a gospel choir be on this?!’ – so we went for it, got into a studio with the House Gospel Choir, and they worked their magic.
You recently embarked on a North American tour with fellow Brit and frequent collaborator, JONES. What’s one thing you’ve learned about her since beginning this tour?
Well we already knew how talented she is having worked with her a lot. Going on tour with her gave us more of a chance to hang out and party with her a bit, so maybe all we learnt is that she’s great fun to go out with too!
Your music is often described “romantic,” and, at times, “sexy.” Why do you think you gravitate towards this sound?
We are both quite romantic guys. We’re both in relationships and have had very positive experiences so we wanted to get that across in our music. A celebration of love and romance and all the great things they can bring.
Love is a difficult thing to quantify, much less, get right. What do you think makes a good relationship?
For me (James), it’s about fun. If you’re both still having fun when you hang out, that’s all that matters. And stuff like giving each other space to do what you need to do, trusting each other and compromising, all make that much easier. These days, I think some of these things are more challenging because it’s so easy to communicate with each other 24 hours a day via text or call, or see what’s going on via social media or whatever, and it can be detrimental. That’s just my opinion.
Lastly, if you could listen to one of your own song’s with a significant other, what would it be?
I think “Til The Evening.” It’s all about spontaneously escaping the city with a loved one, with no destination in mind.
(Bonus: The last song on your album “FHKD” is one of my personal favourites, but I haven’t been able to decipher it’s meaning. If only for my own personal interest, can you tell me what “FHKD” stands for?)
Of course! The letters are abbreviations of the main lyrics – Fight it, hide it, kill it, deny it.