Black Honey are the exceptionally talented and artistic Izzy B Phillips on vocals and guitar, Chris Ostler on guitar, Tommy Taylor on bass and Tom Dewhurst on drums.
‘Like the idea of Lana Del Rey singing girl-group pop accompanied by indie shoegazers? Try this Brighton four-piece.’
Arianne met up with them (sadly missing Izzy but hey three outa four ain’t bad) to discuss life since their outing in to the popular indie music community.
How would you say your sound has evolved over time and how would you describe your sound and look now?
Tommy: Well I definitely think we have really polished it up over the years. It was pretty garagey and rough around the edges. I mean it still is in a way.
Chris: I guess the thing is, going into a new album as well, we’ve tried to polish it up a little bit, like we take influences from different places like hip hop drum beats and things. We’ve got some keyboards going on in some of the new tracks which is a new realm.
Tommy: It’s fun though because we’ve always had quite short attention spans, it’s quite nice to try new things. It’s good to always be excited about what you’re doing.
Chris: Also going along with the polishing it up, on the record it sounds quite clean and in your face but then live we make it much heavier . I like the split between live and recording, it really excites me.
How do you approach writing your lyrics and melodies as a band?
Tom: I write them whilst I’m on the toilet: it’s the only place I can do it. This is where I come up with the best ideas though …
Tommy: This would explain why you’re on the toilet so much then?
Chris: Unfortunately, the person who needs to answer that question isn’t present, she writes pretty much all the lyrics …
Tom: Izzy writes poems about experiences she has and then puts it into music, I think that’s her process. It changes but you can tell when you hear a new song from her and you can trace back to the event.
You’ve described listening to music while living your life as if you’re living your own movie. Can you talk a little about how this influences the writing and videos?
Tom: A lot really, as you can see with what we are wearing! [points to t-shirts to illustrate the point] Chris watched something in his Gran’s house, I watched a western and what did you watch Tommy?
I’d say an American rom com …
Chris: I’d say when the song is written, there is always a sort of a picture in our minds; Izzy especially when she writes the lyrics. We try and almost make like a film scene in our head and make it into the music. Izzy loves doing the videos and things like that and getting what’s in her head out. It’s like having a song that’s a soundtrack to your life in a way.
With this in mind, do you see the video you will make as you write the songs?
Tom: I reckon Izzy has even written a song from video ideas before, that’s how much she has it in her head.
So, which film or cinematic moment best describes your life?
Chris: I mean it’s gotta be something Tarantino hasn’t it? Or like Grand Budapest Hotel collectively.
Tom: I like it when Thelma and Louise drive off the edge of the cliff, that’s like that’s what life is based on at the moment.
Tommy: We are always about five seconds away from disaster, or something like that: we haven’t quite gone over the cliff just yet.
How important is artwork to you as a band?
Chris: Very much, it’s all linked.
Tom: It’s like when Izzy has the song, she has the artwork and the video there.
Tommy: Izzy definitely visualises everything.
Tom: We actually make the artwork ourselves at the moment, so Izzy will have the idea and i’ll create it on the computer with her.
Chris: It all just comes in one big package really. The artwork, the videos and the songs. Kind of like one big bubble.
Can you talk about how important photography and social media are to you as a band in terms of spreading your message?
Tommy: I mean apart from the music it’s pretty much the most important thing.
Chris: Yeah, I don’t really like it if I’m honest. But I don’t do much of it. It’s gone from being a cool kinda new exciting way or showing yourselves but it’s almost too much now. But it’s still a necessity. It’s like choosing what to put on it and what you say and when you do it.
Tom: It’s like if you don’t do it, you suffer. It’s a good tool to get a message out though.
Tommy: There are so many photographers now, but it kinda takes the mystique away. We were pretty fond of the idea back in the ’60s and ’70s that you’d hear a band on the radio and it wouldn’t be instantly accessible to look them up.
Yeah, It’s a case of if you wanna know who we are come and see us?
Tommy: Yeah, I would much prefer that, it adds more tension and, again, mystique to it.
Chris: Another way of looking at it is like Kanye West, who removes everything from his social media and then will suddenly reactivate all of his accounts because he has a new album coming out. The 1975 did it as well didn’t they.
What’s next on the cards for you? We hear there is a debut album on the way?
Chris: You might be right. We are very excited to announce that. We have been recording for the past few months and it’s almost finished and aiming to be out towards the end of the year.
Tommy: If we don’t have too many creative differences in the mean time.
Chris: If our songs sound anything like our dress sense right now we might have something to worry about. Also we’ve got some festivals coming up like Bestival, Big Truck, Lattitude. Ohh … we’re playing with Queens of the Stone Age as well in Finsbury Park, very excited. Iggy Pop will be there as well. And Queens [of the Stone Age] are like my favourite band of all time.
Well he [Josh Homme] has got very nice eyes …
Tom: Really? Ohh well I will be looking out for them then, but they are probably one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.
You have a reputation for being a fiercely independent band- how do you balance that with surviving in this current industry of ours?
Chris: Firstly, that’s amazing that we are known as that, pretty cool.
Tom: We mostly and financially do it by selling our merch at these gigs we have been doing and to keep everything ticking through we need money from everything. Basically everything we earn goes back into it.
Tommy: It’s a lot of hard work, I mean we all still work jobs to keep the plates spinning. But it definitely doesn’t feel like a chore, it’s something we all love doing. It’s really hard these days unless you’re like one in a million that signs to a huge shiny record deal.
Chris: But that also has its down sides. We’ve known a few bands over that last few years and we think, yeah they’re gonna be the next big thing and they release an album and it doesn’t have the promotion it deserves or they don’t even release an album and they just disappear. It’s such a shame. I’m happy with how we have done it as we are in control of everything.
To keep up with them, Black Honey can be found here: