From Nickelodeon viewers to ten thousand strong audience shows, Rebekah Rennick chats to LA based duo HoneyHoney about wholesome beginnings and humble motivationSince Mumford & Sons shuffled into popularity circa 2009, all waist coats, bearded faces and an aura stinking of rich mahogany, folk rock has nestled itself quite comfortably in the casual listeners’ music taste. In an era of genre mutations, American duo HoneyHoney are a dense blend of bluesy folk, supported by budding banjo accompaniment and woozy vocals that cocoon you in a warm blanket of wholesome country twang.
The collaboration between vocalist Suzanne Santo and guitarist Ben Jaffe has seen HoneyHoney release three albums since 2008. A musical partnership that was molded following what was an informal introduction through a mutual friend, the pair soon discovered their musical inclinations folded together seamlessly. However, their first experiences as artists were a far cry from the position they now hold in the music world.
“My first experience was singing ‘Part of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid. I was in fifth grade. I wore a fin and owned that shit. That was the real launching pad for my career,” Santo jokes. While Jaffe reveals, “I made all the kids I invited to my bar mitzvah listen to my band play. It was important in learning that just because you want to play doesn’t mean people want to listen.”
With Jaffe composing music for Nickelodeon cartoons and Santo catching supporting roles in shows such as Law & Order, their past endeavors make the duo an interesting pair.
Their light-hearted response is testament to what they’ve been creating these past few years. With an imprint of vintage Buffalo Springfield and a hum of Rickie Lee Jones echoing through their repertoire, HoneyHoney are simply a hybrid of diverse sounds and melodies. “The music that we make has always been pretty personalized. That’s kind of the only way to do it as for as HoneyHoney goes,” they assure Otwo.
“As far as characterizing our work, we simply want to make well-written, badass tunes that we’re proud of and that are fun to play. Until we launch our electro robo-pop career infused with animal noises and heavy breathing, we will stay true to the good ol’ fashioned personalized story telling that we love so much.”
On the surface, it may be easy to dismiss HoneyHoney as another humdrum, even predictable, boy-girl folk pair. Their charming, fiddle soaked melodies are perfect for those lost, lazy days that characterise youthful, sun-drenched summers. Yet, they possess a confidence that focuses your attention on the finer details of their musicianship.
“Our creative process is almost a daily routine of practicing, writing if we’re working on a record or writing for other people, building our video content online with solid live performances and HoneyHoney arts and craft hour, which consists of sketching animals and building little villages out of tooth picks and tongue depressors.”
Similarly, in terms of their lyricism, witty hooks and underlying smirks are felt in many tracks. “The lyrics come from the banging of the head against the desk or bed until something comes out that’s halfway decent. Every once in awhile something flows out seamlessly, but it’s generally just the act of trying that does it.”
Their honesty is what makes this west-coast duo so frustratingly likeable, as they proclaim themselves, “We’re trying to be good humans, and write songs that don’t bullshit around. As far as being an artist, it’s an ideal to shoot for. Trying to create beautiful things and be honest about it.”
There’s no Kanye-style ego bubbling within this pair that could overflow at any given moment, and coupled with the magnetism between the two on stage, it’s difficult not to get caught up in their string infused world.
“Our latest album that we just recorded and are currently in the process of mixing, has brought up some real feel good thunderbolts to be honest with you. It’s really cool to have our previous albums that we’re very proud of and to continue to evolve and move forward.”
They coyly confess, “As far as performing live, we had a truly humbling moment in front of 10,000 people a few years back in Chicago when the power went out in the middle of a tune. The crowd proceeded to join in with handclaps to the improvised tune of ‘Old Joe Clark’. It was awesome and terrifying.”
Riding on the cusp of something quite special, HoneyHoney deserve all the success they are reaching out for in the headline pathway created by Marcus Mumford & Co. Cotton shirts and unshaven faces aside, however, this pair hold the purest form of personal motivation.
“We want to inhabit the positive potential of ourselves as deeply as we can. When people live that way, reality becomes easier and easier to accept. And goddamn if we’re not trying as best we can.”
Aiming to be the best they can is exactly what this band should be striving for. As Otwo always says; aim for perfection and fall somewhere short of above average.