INTERVIEW: HONNE Gives Advice To Aspiring Producers, Talks Debut Album and Dream Collaborations
  • MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2016

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

There are a lot of love songs in the world. Like, a lot. How many love songs are there? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions, probably. And electro-R&B duo HONNE threw fourteen more love songs into the world when they dropped their debut album Warm On A Cold Night earlier this year. When it's put like that, it sounds pretty dull, but when you listen to the music for yourself, it's some of the most refreshing stuff we've heard in a while. It's soulful, feel-good, and has an overall positive vibe that is impossible to get tired of. HONNE's music is so romantic, we could almost be convinced that they invented love songs. We had the opportunity to talk to one half of the group, James Hatcher, about the making of the sensual record and what's coming up next for the duo.



KIRSTEN SPRUCH: How does it feel to have already sold out so many shows with just a debut album under your belt?

JAMES HATCHER: It feels really good. We're just happy to finally get it out there. We wrote those song over two and a half years and we're really, really proud of them. And also, now when we play shows, people know pretty much every song we're playing because they're all on this album. Whereas before you're playing a selection of music that you put out and they didn't know about it before.

KS: And how do you feel like the songs are translating live?

JH: I think really well... I hope so. When we play live we have a drummer that is an amazing gospel-style drummer, bass player, and backup vocals, and they bring so much energy to the set because the music is quite chilled out when we record it. It's quite downbeat but live and live instruments make it all come alive and give it so much energy.

KS: Which song off the album were you most excited to share with people?

JH: I think "Treat You Right." I'm not sure why - it's just got this nostalgic, summery kind of feel and we just really love that song. We love playing it live.

KS: Is there a song that was particularly challenging to write in the process?

JH: I think our favorite songs are the ones that came really naturally. Like "Someone That Loves You," the one we wrote with Izzy, was written in basically about six or seven hours in one day. And then it just didn't stop for the next couple of days or anything. A day or two and then it's pretty much completely done.

KS: What was it like working with Izzy on that song?

JH: Amazing! She's so cool. We were on Twitter and we saw that she mentioned that she'd been listening to our songs on a blog or something, so we followed her on Twitter and wrote a message saying that we should get together and write a track. Didn't really have a purpose for her or for us, but she was like "Yeah, definitely!" She came around a week later and really, she was just so chill, so talented, really lovely to work with and we're really good friends. It's great.



KS: Your whole album has a distinctly smooth, sensual sound. Were there artists that you were listening to in that process that influenced that?

JH: I think from the start, Andy and I have always really liked soul music, but not traditional soul music. And that's what we wanted to get across in all our songs, and I think you get that. It's also playing that with the electronic elements that brings that kind of thing up to date. We like James Blake, big fans of Kendrick Lamar and - and that kind of stuff. But to be honest, sometimes if I'm writing music I try to listen only to us, so that I'm writing a HONNE song rather than mimicking anything else. It sounds strange but sometimes I have to get into that headset since this is my time and we need to sound like our band.

KS: How do you usually start writing a song? Piano? Or do you usually start with a beat?

JH: It's always music first, really. Andy drops down the lyric ideas now and again when someone says to him "oh, that's interesting," but normally it start the music. Me and Andy both write the music but separately. Often it can start with a sound pull or a beat or some piano chords and it really gets us to be creative.

KS: How did you get into producing?

JH: Well Andy and I met at university and at that point we've both done a bit but not loads. Then we had laptops and Logic. And I guess over those few years, when we weren't doing HONNE, we still taught ourselves and each other how to do all these tricks and get everything sounding good. I guess it's a real progression. It takes hours and hours and there's no way around it. You just got to spend time learning how to do that kind of thing.

KS: Do you still use Logic now?

JH: Yes, yes we do. We do use Ableton a bit as well. Do you make music as well?

KS: Yeah, I use Logic too, because it's kind of similar to GarageBand [laughs].

JH: Yeah, it's a natural progression isn't it?

KS: Yeah, but I feel like most electronic artists use Ableton, so I was just wondering when you mentioned Logic.

JH: Ableton's really good for that bass stuff, older stuff usually, and making clunky beats and everything.

KS: Do you have any advice for people who are just starting to produce themselves?

JH: Read stuff. There's a lot of good things online. YouTube! There's amazing stuff on YouTube. Also the best thing you can do is work with other producers, friends - just watch how they're doing stuff, because if they're nice people and the kind of people you want to be working with, then be open to sharing their secrets and how to do things. We've honestly just learned so much from other people.

KS: Are there any people that you would love to work with? Dream collaborations?

JH: Right now, it's rappers. We'd like Chance the Rapper, we
d absolutely love to get a chance to get after him. And Kendrick. We played Austin City Limits the other day and woke up in the tour bus outside the main stage that we were playing and Kendrick Lamar's band was sound checking. And they just sounded so good. We didn't get to meet Kendrick but his band was very nice. We'd love to get some female vocals on a track as well.

Well, we wouldn't be surprised if HONNE and Chance The Rapper came out with a track one day in the near future... But until then, check out our session with the band live from EAR Studio:

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