With their second LP, Written & Directed, Black Honey have transcended above being just a homage to cinema. Izzy Bee Phillips talks with Platform’s Dan Fauzi about how they’ve created the soundtrack to our lives and the euphoria that comes with it…
Dan: Written & Directed shows you’re staying true to the authenticity that’s been running through your entire career so far. How has that authenticity translated into the feel of the album?
Izzy: I think the album is authentic because no one else could’ve made it. The funniest thing about it is we always talk about how it’ll sound and there are so many brass sections. Like a heavy rock record with brass – it sounds awful on paper, but it just works and makes total sense. It completely suits us and I’m super proud of it. I listen back to the album and get a bit shook by how much of myself is in it. I don’t know if I could actually recreate it; I couldn’t rewrite something now and put more of myself in it than what we’ve done, so I know that must be good!
Dan: So, you’ve fully poured your heart and soul into the album?
Izzy: Yeah. There’s a song called I Did It to Myself and it’s basically a confessional of needing professional help but not really feeling ready to do it. I feel it’s super unveiling, and that’s why we’re literally pressing our blood, sweat and tears into the record because that’s a brilliant artistic reflection of what it was to make it.
Dan: Can we expect a different focus with the album?
Izzy: Basically, album one was us with our pop lens trying that jacket on for size. Album two is more like Black Honey, square root, centre point, Black Honey. It’s the most Black Honey thing we’ve ever made! We got down to the core of the Earth, you know, where it’s really hot? *laughing*.
Dan: What were some of your favourite moments making the album?
Izzy: I loved making it so much. I’ve never had a creative experience paralleled to playing Glastonbury… until now. It literally felt like a festival but for three months. Everyone was in such a great mood, the way that Jimmy (our producer) made everyone sound was like watching a flower open. It was crazy how he managed to bring out these different sounds. Even when I wasn’t doing stuff, it was a room that I wanted to be in just because of what was being created. I’m just really glad, even if nobody cares about this record, I’m so grateful that I had the experience of making it.
Dan: Would you have ever expected to be at this point when you were younger?
Izzy: No way. I always feel a little bit behind. Like I always think I’m quite old for a second record, but I think that’s a societal projection of where people should be at what point in their lives. It’s all designed by this insane need for economic growth that we live in. I don’t know if I knew whether I was capable of doing what I’ve done. It’s similar to completing a race or getting a qualification, something that seems really difficult where afterwards you feel as if you never knew you were capable of achieving that. I’ve out proven my own estimations of myself and I feel like we’re just getting started. As a songwriter, I no longer feel intimidated by the things I used to be. I feel like my whole life I’ve been coming into focus of who I really am. That’s why people need music, they need to understand themselves so they can process their own shit and get on with their lives. I needed this album, the band needed this album, as human beings we needed this album to cope – and that is such an honour to be in this position.
Dan: That’s incredible because I imagine it’ll have a similar effect on the people who listen to it.
Izzy: Hopefully, that’s the thing that we just don’t know. Even with the songs we’ve already put out, I know people have connected with it and people have been enjoying it and we’re getting so much more love and attention than I thought we’d ever get. When you play the shows and you have people singing the words back to you and you hear stories of them falling in love and getting married or having their first kiss to your song. These crazy intimate moments made us start to realise the meaning of what we’ve made. I’m generally unaware whether people will connect with these songs; sometimes people need years to live with the music.
I’m also really looking forward to the idea that this should hopefully be soundtracking the most iconic kids stomping their way into school or, you know, their Zoom lessons!
Dan: Soundtracking is interesting because there is a strong cinematic theme in your music. Is there a focus on film music with Written & Directed?
Izzy: Yeah! Basically, every song we did we were thinking ‘what theme would this fit in our Tarantino movie?’ That’s why calling it Written & Directed was so brilliant because the whole way through we were thinking: ‘oh this is the end credits!’, or, ‘this is the sad, intense moment’. Pretty much every cliché Hollywood film has all of these moments, and that’s how forensic we were being during the process. The cinema thing has always been important to me: there is something super iconic about film.
Dan: Film can be so fulfilling because what’s being presented is art in all of its forms, whereas music is purely auditory. Is this ‘full picture’ how you imagine the music during the writing process?
Izzy: 100%, but I think it’s not even conscious. I always find the really rhythmical songwriters so fascinating to me because I just don’t think in frame of rhythm, ever. I’m never like ‘oh let me just write a rhythmic jig here!’ In my head I’m always thinking: where’s the scene? What’s the sound? What’s the tonality? You know, what’s the story here? Then if I can get a sick rhythm, or if I’ve managed to switch that mode of my brain on, I get so stoked about it. Music makes you feel like your life is a movie and that’s what I love. I love getting on the bus with my headphones and putting on my favourite records. I’m listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen at the moment and it makes everything feel so meaningful. Even if it’s just me getting on the bus to go to rehearsal, it’s the deepest, most intense thing ever! I think there’s such a fun, escapist part of music that should be celebrated and explored.
Dan: What movie is Written & Directed the soundtrack of, then?
Izzy: The film would be a lot, like the most intense day where you’ve just had a car crash and a heartbreak! It’s kind of an action movie or a thriller. There’s violence and murder but also a lot of romance and self-reflection.
Dan: What would you say is your most cherished memory from your musical life?
Izzy: The obvious ones are always playing Tokyo or touring Korea or playing Manchester Arena with Royal Blood. All these big things should be it, but my most cherished memories are when we’re driving on tour or back home. It’s always about midnight and we’ve just had a McDonald’s and I’ve got a beer in my hand and we’re in the van. Everyone is getting drunk and chatting shit about politics or the world or whatever. Then I always look out at the sky and every single time it always hits me like: ‘this is it; this is the best thing in the fucking world.’ With all of your mates you feel invincible and then you know you’re going to do it again the next day. Like I wouldn’t even care if I’d die the day after because I am so, so grateful that I’d be able to die this happy.
By Dan Fauzi
Written & Directed by Black Honey will be released 29 January 2021.
Feature Image Credit: chuffmedia