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In Conversation with Black Honey

On an unexpectedly sunny day of lockdown, I caught up with Izzy B Phillips, lead singer of indie powerhouse Black Honey and one of Brighton’s greatest exports, to talk new albums, favourite films and all things Thekla.

By Katie Hubbard, 3rd Year Geography

On an unexpectedly sunny day of lockdown, I caught up with Izzy B Phillips, lead singer of indie powerhouse Black Honey and one of Brighton’s greatest exports, to talk new albums, favourite films and all things Thekla.
Black Honey have been turning heads since 2014, when they burst onto the indie music scene with a string of melancholic, noir pop/ indie infused singles, bravely providing no information about themselves other than a WhatsApp number for fans to contact them on. Seven years, multiple EPs, an innovative debut album and several truly cinematic music videos later, the Brighton band are back and better than ever.

The group’s sophomore album ‘Written and Directed’ is due for release on the 19th March, and shows no similarities to the infamously difficult second album. It’s a blisteringly paced 30 minutes of alternative indie demonstrating a heavier and more mature sound than their debut. Lead singer and guitarist Phillips describes the record as a ‘cinematic action movie with female identifying protagonists and villains’ that ‘all have complex characters.’ Maintaining the film heavy references of their previous release, they provide an angrier record than their debut with female empowerment as its core message.

Inspired by Quentin Tarantino, spaghetti westerns and classic Hollywood, the group’s visual output is almost as impressive as their sonic one, with their music videos providing a modern take on classic Hollywood. Tarantino classics Django Unchained, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Wild at Heart by David Lynch are cited as all-time favourite films.

Izzy explains that she has just finished recording their latest music video - an 8 millimetre film concept: ‘I did like a bedroom set up. I was naked playing guitar, then dancing around in a room, then running around London. Because we can't go anywhere, we just went and stood in front of loads of buildings. But it's all 8 millimetre, so fingers crossed. Roll around in a room, dance around a bit, record on some 8 millimetre, done… there’s something about the immediacy of how beautiful film looks and how quick it comes back.’

Like the majority of us, the group have found lockdown tough, the only saving grace being that ‘Written and Directed’ was mostly completed before the pandemic hit (making the title of my favourite song of the album Disinfect even more intriguing). However, there was major upheaval for the group, with original drummer Tom Dewhurst leaving and Alex Woodward joining.

Izzy explains: ‘Tom leaving was the first big change, Alex joining was the 2nd. Doing that in the middle of the record was quite insane. At one point we were like, “is Alex going to be a psycho?” It turns out that he’s a breath of fresh air, he’s the best person that's come into our lives. He’s been absolutely amazing. And then bless him, as soon as he joins the band the global pandemic comes! You know, Black Honey is always about family and we're a little squad. It's great because Tom is still so involved with everything, like playing video games every week together, it's great. So we feel like we're not losing much when you still have the friendship.’

The close relationships between the band members have always been apparent with a genuine friendship at the heart of the group’s output making Covid enforced separation even harder. ‘Oh, it’s just so hard like this January, I think it's been hard on everyone but and we've had a really tough start to the year.’ Izzy elaborates ‘we've had a big scare recently and that's been really intense, especially when you can't see your band, you can't go round, you can't do anything and in a global pandemic as well. I think there's a collective sense of grief happening right now, but today is a sunny day. It feels like spring, and spring is my favourite season.’

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Better times are most definitely on the way for the group. Their optimism, despite trying times. bursts out of ‘Written and Directed’ with power-pop number Beaches being the perfect song for a sunny day with friends. Looking to the future, Izzy is hoping for ‘pints in pubs, watching bands and I really badly wanna go for a swim in a pool.’

As talk turns to future gigs and our (hopefully imminent) freedom, everyone’s favourite club/gig venue/boat Thekla is mentioned. Izzy explains ‘Thekla, I remember going! I went to a club night once when I was 18 and heard that bands play there - I remember thinking wow, this is like the coolest but only the coolest bands can play here. And so, when we eventually got to play at Thekla, I just felt like it was like a bucket list thing, you know? Yeah, definitely love that club.’

Hopefully it won’t be too long until we can see Black Honey back at Thekla once again. If the intensity of ‘Written a Directed’ is anything to go by, once they start touring again, I don’t know if they’ll ever stop.

Featured: Laura Allard-Fleischl

Will you be seeing Black Honey on tour?