Indie bands can only dream of the success Honne have earned over the past few years. A band you wouldn't find on the radio, but if your Spotify recommendations were tuned right — and if you were hanging with the right crowd — Honne's music would inevitably reach your ears.
Their pleasing, atmospheric brand of electronic pop is an amalgamation of R&B, soul and synth-pop — buzzwords that any up-and-coming act would wear as a badge of honour — but Honne has pushed their sound to astounding heights, due in part to their razor-sharp consistency in imagery and lyrics, and their ability to maintain a sound that is both inviting and mysterious.
It's no wonder, then, that their music has reached far and wide, from the winning sensuality of 2014's Warm On A Cold Night to their ambitious latest album, Love Me / Love Me Not. Their return to Asia this year, which includes a slot at forested getaway LaLaLa Festival, is minted by instantly sold-out shows and a fever high of anticipation.
We speak to James Hatcher of the duo about their watershed years, favourite moments in Asia, and when we can expect a new Honne album (hint: it might be sooner than you think).
It's safe to say Asia loves you! With this being one of several Asian tours already embarked upon by the band, what can you tell us about your prior experiences in the region:
Favourite food you've tried?
This is a tough one. I'll name a few… Thai green curry, ramen, sushi and gyoza.
Favourite sights you've seen?
We've loved wandering around all the cities we've visited. Some favourites would have to be Shibuya in Tokyo, the Botanic Gardens in Singapore and Hongdae in Seoul.
Favourite personal moments?
Our last show in Jakarta was an incredible moment. We didn't realize quite how many people would be there, then we walked out onto the stage and looked out to a sea of people singing and dancing along to our music. Very special.
There's a lot of great moments outside shows too. Going out for Korean BBQ after our gigs in Seoul, or for some late night ramen in Tokyo and Osaka with our band mates, and friends who live in those cities, is a lot of fun.
Love Me/Love Me Not has been nothing short of a hit with fans! Could you tell us what went into the making of the album? How was it different from making Warm On A Cold Night, if at all?
It was quite a different process actually. We'd been quite inspired by a lot of hip-hop/rap music and production since the first album, and we really wanted to channel this inspiration into the new record. So we focused a lot more on groove and beats, along side making more use of samples.
We also decided that we wanted to collaborate a lot more on Love Me / Love Me Not. We'd met and connected with so many artists and musicians whilst touring the first album, so the prospect of getting in a studio with them and seeing what we could come up with really excited us. So, we ended up working with artists like Tom Misch, Anna of the North and Nana Rogues.
What's one studio habit that you're aiming to get rid of and why?
Andy and I have both just finished reading a book called Ikigai. One of the chapters is about the importance of finding a state of flow in everything you do and avoiding distractions.
This year, I want to get rid of the habit of checking messages and emails whilst writing music. I'll set time aside to do that at intervals during the day. I think this is important for everyone to remember if you want to be productive.
There's a two-year gap between Warm On A Cold Night and Love Me / Love Me Not. Can we expect a new Honne album in 2020?
I think 2 years is a good round number, so yeh, why not!
While you're playing in bigger venues as each year passes, do you feel the disconnect from audiences?
No, we don't actually. I think one of our strengths is making sure that we don't just get up on stage, play our songs and leave. For us, it's important that we connect with our audience, talk to them, tell them some stories.
And when we do that we always come away feeling a connection with the audience we've just played to. It's been an amazing few years of live shows, hearing people sing our songs at the top of their lungs is still one of the most fulfilling feelings we can experience as artists.
Tell us what Honne has in store for fans in Asia!
We're in the process of designing all new visuals which are looking very exciting, and we can't wait to show them at the shows. All the production will be fresh with a brand new set too. It's gonna be special!
LaLaLa Festival is renowned for its unorthodox festival location — within natural forests. Is this something that you're looking forward to?
Absolutely! We were hanging out with Oh Wonder the other day, who I believe played the festival a year or two ago. They were telling us how beautiful the location is. So we're very intrigued and can't wait to check it out ourselves.
— Daniel Peters
Honne will be performing at LaLaLa Festival on February 23rd. Check out the band's full list of Southeast Asian tour dates below.
20/02 - Thunder Dome Sports Complex, Pak Kret, Thailand
23/02 - LaLaLa Festival 2019, Bandung, Indonesia
01/03 - KL Live, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
02/03 - KL Live, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11/03 - Capitol Theatre, Singapore
12/03 - Capitol Theatre, Singapore