British electric soul act Honne have been building quite a name for themselves this year, with performances at major festivals like SXSW and Austin City Limits. (The moniker is a Japanese word with no exact English meaning, but roughly translates to one’s true feelings and desires.) We had a chance to hear more about the duo’s journey before their October 7th show at Paradise Rock Club – read up on what singer and producer Andy Clutterbuck had to say about growing up listening to Michael Jackson, making music exclusively at night, and album art.

KB: The collaboration with Izzy Bizu came about thanks to Twitter. Who are you guys looking to collaborate with in the future? Have you found other collaborators or actively searched for other collaborators on social media platforms like Twitter?

AC: Twitter has been quite a useful tool for us in that respect. We love speaking to people whether that be fans or other artists and given that we are traveling around most of the time, Twitter helps us out quite a lot. Re: collaborations, we’re definitely going to be doing more in the future, but at this stage that’s all we can say.

KB:  You guys have played some big festivals recently. Did you have a favorite, and why?

AC: We’ve had a busy year of festivals throughout Europe and on this tour we’re doing some over in the US. In fact, we just played the main stage at Austin City Limits. We stepped out of our tour bus to the sounds of Kendrick Lamar’s band sound checking and later got to watch his set from the side of stage. We won’t be forgetting that anytime soon.

KB: There are a number of instances where the minimal vocals are dropped in favor of a chorus of voices (“It Ain’t Wrong Loving You,” “Good Together”). Is there any motivation or explanation for how you decided when to incorporate additional layers?

AC: We always wanted to get a choir on some our tracks. We love the power and energy that it can bring to the table. I remember the day we recorded them at the studio, both of us had the hairs standing up on the back of necks the whole time.

KB: You’ve mentioned in the past that you’ve borrowed 80s style drum and snare elements, like the Simmons snare that Michael Jackson used. What are some of 80s records that you think influenced this album’s sound?

AC: James grew up listening to Michael Jackson. It was the first live gig he went to. I’m sure you’d be mesmerized as a kid if you went to see someone perform and there were tanks and jet packs on stage. A lot of people have mentioned Hall and Oates to us but we hadn’t really dived into their catalogue until long after we started.

KB: How do you think the fact that a lot of your music was created at night affected the sound?

AC: It’s affected it hugely. We love being creative and writing during the night. It’s just feels like we can be more intimate and open about things at this time. It’s a bad habit and I realize we need sunlight to survive, but I will quite often leave all my curtains closed during the day to help me get in the night time zone for writing.

KB: Your album art is quite interesting – nearly all of the releases have consistently had a strip of Japanese characters on the left side. Could you tell me more bit about that, and the decision to have what seems like abstract water ripple imagery?

AC: So the word Honne is a Japanese word. That’s the main reason for all the characters, aside from the fact we love the way they look. And the album image came pretty naturally too. The picture was taken on the night of one of our London shows. It’s great to know exactly where it came from and we felt instantly connected to it because of that. The last thing we wanted was for it to come from a Google image search 😉

KB: Please describe your sound without using genre names. (For example, The Kooks described their latest album as “percussion sonnets.”)

AC: Of course. We like to think it’s music you should listen to on a warm summers night as the sun sets. If you can drive, put the album on, wind the windows down and go somewhere you’ve never gone before. If you can’t drive – Uber.

You can catch Honne perform live at Paradise Rock Club this Friday, October 7. Tickets are available online.

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