When you ask Andy and James (no surnames necessary) to describe the musical aesthetic of HONNE, the bandmates don't struggle to find the right words. "We always like to think that you can imagine yourself driving late at night with the windows down, warm summer breeze coming in," Andy says slowly. "With a loved one," James chimes in. " A bit romantic... Hot and steamy," adds Andy.
We have been crushing on the London-based duo ever since their song "Warm on a Cold Night" crept into the cracks of our hearts and heated them up. To our dismay, both lads are taken but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate sources of their inspiration. For Valentine's Day, we premiered HONNE's music video for "Woman," a tender tune that is generally about caring for someone.
Before they headed down to Austin to steal the hearts of everyone at SXSW, we kicked back with the guys and had them dish on what they've been cooking up in the studio and on modern-day romance. Read their thoughts, below.
How did you both get into music?
Andy: It started really young for both of us, I think. I just remember going back to being in primary school and having a real interest in instruments. I started learning guitar at an early age, and also started writing songs, as well. They were probably pretty terrible when I was younger. But it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. And you’re the same, aren’t you?
James: Yeah I think I had piano lessons when I was younger but when I was about 11 or 12, I remember I picked up the guitar for the first time and got completely obsessed with it. From that moment, I was like “I wanna be in bands. This is what I’m gonna do.” I didn’t want to go to uni and study and everything. It’s weird. I think that’s the age, maybe, when you start to get obsessed with something long term and you really get going with that.
A: It sounds a bit weird, but at school, if you played guitar, it was just another interest that people could latch onto. So it was quite nice to do that and have people go, “Oh, wow, you can play that song, that’s cool.”
When you were growing up, were you listening to a lot of R&B music, since you make electro soul kind of stuff?
J: You couldn’t really escape it when we were teenagers in England.In the ‘90s, it was huge.
A: Yeah, it was a mixture. In my house, I’ve got two sisters, and they both listen to stuff, and then my parents also listen to different stuff. So growing up, my music taste was quite eclectic. But there was definitely a lot of ‘90s R&B floating around at school and that sort of stuff.
J: I guess we were both into quite a mixture of stuff, weren’t we?
A: When we first met, the kind of electronic side of things has come from, I guess, bands like Radiohead and their more electronic stuff. And you got me into Moderat and Modeselektor and that kind of stuff. They’re like German electronic artists, and they’re really really cool.
How did you guys meet? I read that you met in school, but how did you become friends and collaborators?
J: It was all quite sudden. We just met on the first day of university. We were just in the dinner queue at the same time, and we just started chatting and within a couple of days we were writing music together. That was six or seven years ago now. I think that’s why this has worked so well—because we know each other inside out, and what makes each other tick or makes each other annoyed. Writing music, I’ll know whether an idea that I come up with is something that Andy’s gonna be interested in.
A: In terms of how we do it, in the writing process, it’s normally a separate thing. Because we’ve known each other for so long, we know what works and what doesn’t. We can afford to be apart when we’re writing. So James will quite often come up with music, and I’ll do lyrics and melodies, and it’s all separate until the very end when we get together and finish the track up. It works quite well just because we can be really productive and be working on various things at the same time.