Music

What Would HONNE Do If the World Ended in One Week?

The British duo is out with a new album.
IMAGE HONNE
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It’s no surprise that Honne have played here in the Philippines more than a few times (you know, back when in-person concerts were still a thing here). The British duo’s chill, breezy beats have struck a chord with local listeners and, judging by their live shows over the years—each one bigger than the last—fans just can’t seem to get enough.   

Outside of singles and EPs, Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher a.k.a. Honne have released two studio albums and are gearing up to release a new one. Let's Just Say The World Ended A Week From Now, What Would You Do? was    written throughout the course of 2020 and sees the duo exploring previously uncharted territory. 

“In the past, we’ve limited ourselves,” they say in the official release about the new LP. “We might get to a section of a song and things are getting really exciting, but we then pull ourselves back and say, ‘Can we really do that?’ Now, we’ve sidestepped the rules and done whatever we wanted to do.”

The band is also playing the virtual G Music Fest 2021 alongside other musical acts, including frequent collaborator Beka, Vance Joy, SB19, I Belong to the Zoo, December Avenue, The Juans, and Silent Sanctuary. The music festival will be broadcast on Globe’s official Facebook Page

Photo by Globe.
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Meantime, Honne found time to go on a quick chat with a few local music journalists about what it’s like to create during the pandemic, how they settle the inevitable creative differences, and what they would do if the world would end in a week. Excerpts: 

How are you guys doing? How’s the pandemic treating you?

Andy: In the UK things have eased up a little, but obviously we're approaching our winter. So that's a bit of a question mark. We don't know what is going to happen really. But the nice thing is that some live music events have been going ahead, which is quite good for everyone. I think everyone needed a little bit of a boost so that was nice.

What about you James?

James: Yeah, very similar. Andy and I are lucky that we live very near each other. We moved at the end of last year, down to southeast London, so there's more parks around here and it's a bit more spacious so it’s been a bit easier than before, when we're in like a more hectic area of London. 

Going into the whole pandemic situation, I'm curious how easy or difficult it was to create, or the process of being creative during the whole lockdown. How did it affect things like, inspiration or thinking about themes for the songs? 

Andy: Yeah. It's very tricky to be inspired, especially when you can't go out and do something or you can't see your friends and your family and all these people that you love. 

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But it's kind of a funny story, so the first single, “What would you do?” which obviously our album is named after, and which obviously draws upon this question, “Let's Just Say the World Ended a Week from Now, What Would You Do?”, we wrote that before the pandemic had even started. So I know it sounds like a very ominous question and one that might have come about since COVID, but actually that song was there beforehand. And, obviously, it became very relevant, since the pandemic. And the meaning of that song has really changed and developed into something different. So that's kind of interesting.

And the other thing I would say is that we quite often write about things that are very close to us, and a lot of the songs are kind of about love and relationships, and I'm just very fortunate that I've been in a long-term relationship. And yeah, so I kind of just write about what I know. And that that hasn't changed for the last 14 years, so there you go.

James, do you want to add anything to that?

James: Yeah, in terms of like the process, Andy and I might have been apart, but still writing music together somehow. That is kind of how we started out, like we live separately, and I write music on my computer at home, and he would write music in his place. So we kind of have identical music setups, our individual houses, so that we can just open (a file) and then we have just a dropbox that we can open projects that each other are working on and fiddle with them and work on them. We’re lucky that we're able to stay collaborative and all that kind of stuff. Even though we can be in the same room together for a lot of the time.

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You must have a harmonious relationship that's why you're working or doing things together, but how do you settle personal and creative differences, whenever you're working on a project? Is it a given that you meet halfway or someone really needs to give way. 

Andy: It's just an arm-wrestle. (laughs) No, me and James, well, we've known each other for probably 14 years now. We've been working on music together so we know each other very well and we're very, very good friends. And yeah, there's always going to be—and there still are—slight clashes, but I think we've gotten better (handling them) over the years. We've kind of formed into one person. The normal way we work it out is that we just kind of have a bit of time apart, whether that's like, if we are together, we might have a lunch break, separately, and then when we come back, we'll have agreed on one thing.

What can sometimes happen is we think the opposite then, so we're now arguing again but from each other's point of view. But yeah, we never really bicker about too much and we get on and just do what we have to do. 

James: I would also say, fortunately, because we've worked together for so long, that we both know what the end result is that we're aiming for. Like, we'll talk about what we want it to be, like the song or whatever it is, and then we're both working towards the same thing. I think when it's right, we will both agree that it's right. If it is actually when everything's falling into place, and it's what we wanted to do, then we'll know it. But yeah, it's just working together to try and try all these different things to get the right result.

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James: I think our band is much like a relationship. Compromise is probably one of the most important things that has given us longevity.

You guys have a lot collaborations with other artists. When you wrote the songs did you have the collab artists in mind already or like the song always comes first?

James: It's always the track first. Sometimes it could be quite quick like we’ll have a song written, and we think, ‘How good would Niki be on this, or how good can Khalid be on this,’ or whatever. And then we message them and try and make it happen. But yeah, we never write music thinking, “Let’s write a song that we're going to ask this person to be on or anything like that. 

Andy: Yeah, cuz if we were that. And then they decided that they didn't want to be on it, then it would just be kind of a waste. 

Like for example the song “Coming Home,” that has Niki on it. We wrote that, just a couple of days before we before we even saw or met Nikki for the first time. It wasn't really a finished song, but then we just randomly bumped into Nikki, and me and James just said to each other “How good would Niki be on ‘Coming Home?’”, the song that we wrote a couple of days ago. So yeah it kind of was a magical coincidence that she was just in the right place at the right time.  And we were big fans, and she was a big fan of us. So, there you go. Perfect.

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Have you guys figured that what you would do if the world ends in a week?

Andy: We’d build a bunker in our garden. That’s we've been working on for the last three months. 

James: The truth is we're both real like family orientated people. Our families are from the countryside. So we'd go back home and just hang out with all our family and all the kids and grandparents and all that kind of stuff. A bit of a boring answer but that's the reality, all the matters is family and love and having nice people around you. 

Andy: Yeah, it's the same for me. What would I do differently? Just eat any food that I can get my hands on. I'm not worried about body weight or anything like that, just go for it, you've only got a few days left.

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Paul John Caña
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