It’s been a tough year for musicians and fans alike, with optimism for gigs and live music rapidly dwindling and growing glacial. However, ever the fanciful, cinematic body of indie-rock brilliance, Black Honey have begun the burst of musical revival with their latest album, Written & Directed. We chatted to lead vocalist and glimmering feminine icon Izzy to hear more about the circumstances surrounding this release, and the wonderful lyrics and tracks themselves.
Speaking of lockdown, Izzy says with her usual candid openness that it’s “been shit.” “Especially in lockdown three,” she details, “there’s been a health scare in the band which has really put things into perspective. And to be here now, putting out a record feels like we’ve climbed Everest to get to it. So the fact we’re all standing and we’re going on tour this year is a miracle to me.” She explains gardening kept them busy for the first lockdown, “dog, for the second lockdown. And then my main hobby for lockdown three was mainly crying in my pants,” she laughs. The group seemed to have found solace in each other and their music; “It was good to be back with the boys,” she confesses. “I hadn’t seen them in three months and then last week we just went around town together to look at all the billboards because there wasn’t much else we could do.”
For most, the recent virus has seemed to be drastically polaric, growing to be inspirational or detrimental to one’s creativity. “I’ve felt really uncreative,” Izzy says, aligning herself with the latter idea. “Everyone seems to be smashing it and making lots of stuff and I’ve been really terrible. I’m just trying not to beat myself up about that. To be positive and think about self care, work on some of my traumas and that kind of stuff … which in its own right is its own hugely draining experience and I find it very hard to do, but also feel very lucky that I got to do it with this time frame allocated. I don’t feel necessarily the positive effects of all of that yet.”
When we sat down with Izzy for our first interview, alongside their exceptional debut record, the front woman spoke about the fear she felt about social media “rotting” her brain. Now, the band have found ways to use their socials for good, though it inevitably remains partly deterious. “If it was ever going to rot my brain it thoroughly, thoroughly has now. I wish I could go back to when we first spoke, two three years ago – and be like oh girl, you think its hard now? Jesus Christ. The only thing i’m better at now is just going on to each platform and firing off the posts as quick as possible, and getting off there. I’d love to be at a point now where we had to do absolutely nothing, I really admire bands who don’t have to do anything on socials.
However, fans of the band have proved a beacon of light in this murky social cloud. “We’ve got a facebook group and a discord chat, and we’ve got zoom parties every month or two months with about a hundred people and that’s been amazing. It’s just been a beautiful moment for us to all get to know each other more, and know they have their own relationships which is so sick – and everyone’s becoming so much more of a unit and working together. That’s when you’ve made something more than just a few songs.”
Speaking on the darker tone of this record, Izzy muses that the band have always “had a heavier, darker side anyway.” “For us,” she explains, “it felt sort of natural to go back to some of those references. And I am that person; I am quite a dark, pessimistic person that does have a regular dialogue with some of the darker narratives in life. So to not do that would be kind of misrepresenting me. Not that I did misrepresent myself in the first record; I just felt this was something that had to happen in this one, you know?”
“They’re all true and honest songs,” she continues. “That’s something I pride myself on. Maybe at a stretch i’ll take on a persona or talk nonsense, but something in it is a sincere description of me or expression of mine. So it’s all honest, there’s never a question about that, but maybe I went in severely honest on some songs. And in the next record I think i’ll still try go even more honest.”
Knowing Izzy to be predominantly a poet and writer, I couldn’t help but ask for the lyrics she favoured most. “I didn’t say this in any of the other interviews but today i’m thinking like in ‘Fire’, there’s the lyrics:
“I’m not yours, don’t belong to you
It’s my body, I make the rules
I can do what I want to”
“I just paraphrased everything that women have been saying basically for two or three years. But if its worth saying once it’s worth saying again, right?” We talk about the recent political climate, and unlike many bands that masquerade under political pretences, Izzy admits, “I think it’s quite hard to put out a feminist record without watching the political agenda of women’s worth in the world. It’d be really weird to not say something. And I’ve had three experiences where I’ve been aggressively stalked or attacked or followed. So if you can add to that story then why not?”
Reminiscing on live music, she remarks “I think I’ll cry when I see a moshpit again. I think there’s gonna be a really good mosh for ‘Disinfect’ … also any of the heavier songs in general.” Bearing no direct reference to the virus, the humorous track title comes as a dark premonition, of sorts. “We finished writing in July 2019. So we knew what was coming. Maybe not in a pandemic, virus sense – but we knew something was coming.”
With undeterrable optimism for the upcoming year, we cannot wait to see Black Honey play live, inevitably once again leaving us in awe at their lyric craft, stage presence, and unparalleled aptitude for crowd-riling tracks.