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HONNE im Interview: “We stopped second-guessing ourselves”

HONNE Interview Untoldency
Was würdet ihr tun, wenn die Welt in einer Woche untergehen würde?

Diese Frage haben sich Andy und James von HONNE in ihrem neusten Album gestellt. LET’S JUST SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? erschien Freitag letzte Woche, und Sarah hat mit den beiden bereits ein paar Tage vor Release zum Album gesprochen.

Sarah: Hey, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your new album! How do you feel, just a few days before the release?

HONNE: Thank you for having us! We’re feeling very good. The process of creating an album from start to finish is definitely a long one, so it’ll feel great to finally put these songs out into the world and see everyone’s reaction.

Sarah: That’s great to hear! Was the process of creating this album different to the last ones? Since you mentioned that this time you “were on a mission to make it as satisfying to listen to as possible”?

HONNE: I think this was the first album that we’ve written where we stopped second-guessing ourselves. It’s very easy to over analyse when you’re 6 months into writing an album. But with this one we just wanted to write great songs. If the song made us feel something and took us where we wanted to go, we put it on the album. The result is quite a varied selection of songs, stylistically. And that’s been fresh and interesting for us.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s definitely refreshing to listen to, from my outside perspective, as well! The first thing I noticed about this album were the many collabs with other artists. What made you choose to feature all these different artists  – especially after your last project not having any features at all?

HONNE: Yeah so this is the other big change. Over the last 7 years of being in HONNE, we’ve met and become friends with so many amazing artists at festivals, on tour, on social media etc. And we wanted to bring some of these amazing voices to our music on this album.

We are passionate about unique and interesting voices. Voices that you can hear for 2 seconds and are instantly recognisable. So that’s what we were looking for. And somehow we’ve managed to convince all these amazing artists to join us on these songs. It’s really special for us and we’re so grateful to Khalid, Griff, NIKI, Pink Sweat$ and Sofía Valdés for taking these songs to another level!

Sarah: I think my favourite feature is Coming Home feat. NIKI, your voices fit together so perfectly. (And the song makes me feel nostalgic for some reason) Now, I don’t wanna put you in a tough spot and ask which one was your favourite collab… but is there one that’s special in some way?

HONNE: You know we couldn’t possibly answer that question! The way in which one of the collabs came to be is one of my favourite stories though, because it was such a coincidence. And that was NIKI (like you mentioned). We’d been big fans of NIKI for ages and messaged her on Instagram years ago but she’d never seen it or replied. Then back in January 2020 we were in LA in Gold-diggers Studios, in a session with Dâm-Funk. As he was about to leave he said ‘oh by the way, I bumped into Pomo in the hallway, he’s in a session with NIKI a couple of rooms down’. We were very excited. But it turned out that Pomo went and told NIKI the same, and she was equally as excited!

Anyway, we ended up going into their studio and having a big chat, eating some food and sharing music with each other. We played NIKI ‘Coming Home’ and cheekily suggested that she could sing on it, and to our surprise she was up for it! A couple of days later we went back to the same studio with NIKI, and ‘Coming Home’ was born. It was one of those times that you read about happening to other artists, but never happens to you. So that was a stroke of good luck for sure.

Sarah: That’s such a sweet story – it just seems like it was meant to be!

Now, if we’re looking at no song without you, it is obvious that the prevalent topic is love. What are some topics you worked through on this album?

HONNE: Having been with my partner for 14 years, of course writing about love is going to be something that comes naturally to me. So this album, like a lot of our albums, is always going to continue celebrating that. For us, love is the most important thing in our lives.

But we delve into different aspects of relationships. The importance of communication and openness in ‘Talk To Me’, and asking for help and support in ‘Heartsong’ and ‘Easy On Me’. 

Aside from love, ‘Three Strikes’ is one of the more reflective songs on the album. I’m sure this song will mean different things to different people, but for me it’s about those moments in life when you just don’t feel yourself and all you can think about is retreating into yourself. Speaking as an introvert these are thoughts I have quite often and it feels like you have a huge weight hanging over you. Hopefully this song will offer some comfort knowing that it’s okay to feel like this way.

Sarah: Ahh, yes, as an introvert myself I can definitely relate to that.

Some other thing I’ve noticed is, that ‘no song without you’ is in all lowercase letters – but LET’S JUST SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?  is in all uppercase letters. Does that add to your album concept and is there a story to it? I mean, in BACK ON TOP there’s a line that says: “I go from lower into uppercase”, so I feel like it was definitely an intentional choice made?

HONNE: Well spotted! That’s one of our favourite lines on the album actually.

There’s not necessarily a story to it. But with each album we think about every detail of how it will be presented, and this is one of those details. I’m not sure why, but ‘no song without you’ felt like an all lowercase album, sonically speaking. But this new album feels uppercase. It’s bright, bold and open.

Sarah: Well I’m glad I caught it then! And yeah, that makes perfect sense!

So… I love love love the dream edits (gotta say I’m a sucker for slow songs) – do you have any plans to release remixes of this album as well?

HONNE: Thank you! We love making those versions of the songs. It’s really fun to have the chance to show the songs in a different light.

We’ve already released a stripped back version of ‘Coming Home’ with Niki – it’s called ‘COMING HOME feat Niki (Long Distance Recording)’. I can’t promise anything, but it’s always possible that some acoustic versions will appear at some point.

Album Cover / Art Director: Daisy King

Sarah: Let’s jump to a different topic: How did you come up with the cover for this album? The colour palette is so beautifully curated.

HONNE: So it all started with the idea of the light beam. Rather than being an alien abduction or something ‘sci-fi’, for us it represents hope – a light at the end of the tunnel. And us hugging on the album cover essentially answers the question that our album title poses. If the world was ending a week from now, we would stay close to the people we care about the most. The colour palette is beautiful isn’t it! We can’t take credit for the whole thing. We worked with an amazing creative team, led by Art Director Daisy King. She has played such an integral part in making the visual world of this album come together.

Sarah: Your last release was in July 2020 – did covid speed up album cycles for you? (Since there were no live shows last year, and basically everyone just stayed home for a while)

HONNE: The short answer to this is – yes most definitely! Under normal circumstances we would tour for about a year and a half to two years after releasing an album. So being at home gave us time to continue being creative in the studio.

Sarah: Our last question is always asking for an untold story: Something you’ve never shared in an interview before but want to share now. That can be anything from a funny tour anecdote, a random fun fact or just something you really want to tell your fans in Germany.

HONNE: Ok, here is a little story about sheep (from Andy) – I grew up on a farm and I used to go out into the barn and sing and dance amongst all the sheep. They would stare and “baaaa” at me. I honestly thought they loved it, until one day, from out of nowhere a ram came in from the side and head butted my body knocking me down onto the floor. It hurt, a lot and I ran home crying. It was way too embarrassing to tell my family about it so I just kept it quiet. There isn’t really a moral to the story but it does make me realise that I’ve always liked performing in front of an audience even if they do tackle me to the floor halfway through.

Hier könnt ihr jetzt noch ins Album reinhören! Sarah’s favourites sind COMING HOME, BACK ON TOP, HEARTSONG.

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