Music

British Electro-Soul Duo Honne Talk About Their Manila Tour, Asian Culture, and Being the New Generation’s Idols

We talk to Honne about their international reach, Japanese roots, and more.
IMAGE Warner Music
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They’ve been described as masters of “baby-making music” and “bruised romantics,” but to Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher of electro-soul duo Honne (pronounced "hon"), they’re still just trying to keep true to the name they chose for their band. Honne, pronounced "hon-ne,"  in Japanese refers to one’s “true feelings” or “true sound,” and that’s been the guiding principle of the two lads from the West Country of rural England since they started making music together over six years ago.

Known for their sultry sound made for late-night drives in the rain, Honne encapsulates all the complicated intricacies of love in the 21st century. Paired with their pseudo-vintage, electro-pop sound, it’s no wonder they’ve gained listeners in every corner of the world—particularly a loyal base in the Philippines.

We have Karpos Multimedia to thank for bringing Honne back to the Philippines for a Manila-wide mall tour with indie-pop group joan from November 7 to 13. Despite being in the city for only a week, their shows drew crowds by the hundreds, all of whom eager for a taste of Honne’s soulful vibes. Esquire was lucky enough to catch up with the duo before they left for another show in South Korea, and this is what they had to say.

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Andy Clutterbuck (left) and James Hatcher (right) of music duo Honne

Photo by Warner Music.

ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: Does it still blow your mind that you have fans on the other side of the world singing your lyrics?

ANDY CLUTTERBUCK: A hundred percent. It always blows our minds. English is not particularly the first language [in most places], and people are just singing our words back to us. It’s crazy. I think we’re still surprised to still walk out on stage and see people even at the shows.

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JAMES HATCHER: I don’t know when that’s going to change. Probably never. We’ve been doing this for four, five years now.

ESQ: Where was your favorite location in Manila to perform?

JH: BGC, I think that was the favorite. It was fun because it was outdoors. It went as far as we could see in all directions. It’s a nice feeling.

ESQ: What made you decide on the name Honne?

AC: We’d kind of written seven or eight tracks before we even had a band name. I was living in Tokyo for a little bit with my wife. James found this Japanese word that means “true feelings,” and it fit with everything we were and all the songs we had written so far. And it was nice that it was just one short word, but it kind of summarized a bigger thing.

JH: It means a bigger thing [too].

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Honne performing at Central Square, BGC 

View this post on Instagram

I wonder if anyone could top this crowd last night ????

A post shared by HONNE (@hellohonne) on

ESQ: Aside from the name, how else has Asian culture influenced your sound?

AC: For me, it’s not really a case of influencing the sound but just the content, the stuff that we write about. “Location Unknown” is a song about being away on tour and we come to Asia quite a lot. That song in particular is about [how] touring is great and a fantastic experience, but obviously, you miss people back at home and it’s just about getting back home as quickly as possible, which makes it sound pretty negative about being away.

ESQ: Do you prefer going on tour or staying at home to create music?

JH: I think a mixture of both is essential. Because you end up in the same room everyday writing music, and then you release it and hope people like it and they want you to come on tour to see it.

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Going on tour is how you see the fruits of your labor.

[After] all the time you spent locked away in your studio, you then get to hear people sing it back when they come to the shows. Seeing your work visually, that’s pretty exciting. And you get a bit of like cabin fever-y, like you need to get out of the house and see the world.

ESQ: Who have been your biggest influences in music?

JH: For me, growing up, it was Michael Jackson. More recently, [it’s] people like Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper, and Bon Iver.

AC: I think Radiohead, [because despite] the ever-changing landscape, they just pick something and then choose to do that and it’s completely different to what’s been done in the past.

ESQ: Is it surreal to consider that you’ve become the influences of younger musicians even abroad?

JH: Oh, really? That is surreal. We do get people going to gigs and stuff and they’ll say that and that just seems mental to me. But, [it’s] very humbling.

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James (right) and Andy (left)

Photo by Warner Music.

ESQ: Can you guys describe your dynamic and why it works so well? James was also your best man to your wedding.

JH: We’re kind of like opposites in a lot of ways, but we have a lot of similarities. Andy’s an introvert, and I’m an extrovert. Andy thinks a lot and keeps things to himself and likes to work alone. And I, talk a lot, think out loud a lot, and like to be around people as much as possible.

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We each have strengths and weaknesses and we kind of fill in each other’s gaps. At the same time, we both came from a similar background. We met at university, but we both grew up in the West Country, so in the middle of nowhere in rural England. We tried to entertain ourselves in the big city. We just work really well together.

ESQ: Any plans to come back to Manila?

AC: Yes, always. We want to come back and play in an arena, so if we can make that possible, that would be great.

Honne in Manila

View this post on Instagram

Halfway through our Manila takeover. It’s been wild! Who’s caught one of the shows?

A post shared by HONNE (@hellohonne) on

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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