Taking their name from the Japanese concept of ‘true feelings’ and one’s intimate self, British duo Honne combine soul with synths to convey their vision of musical intimacy. The pair of producers, James and Andy, met at university and have been collaborating since.
HONNE's latest album 'Love Me / Love Me Not' captures the duality of life’s ups and downs, and the balancing act of navigating between two states at once. Whether it’s the honeymoon period high of a relationship, the frustration of a long-distance separation or the fear of losing someone close, Andy’s lyrics dial in at the reality of most people’s lives. The record acknowledges that for every peak, a challenge is around the corner; and equally, that whenever life throws you everything at once, better times are ahead.
In-between records, the pair would spend hours on flights, dreaming up their next steps. “We’d spent so long touring and listening to other music, we just had loads of inspiration bottled up,” James remembers. They drew up notes on their phones, recorded voice memos on the go, and by 2016’s debut release, were raring to go on new material. They had a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve: a lusciously-produced follow-up with an emotional depth that went beyond their first work. Andy also saw the band’s early ideals coming further into focus. He cites the band’s name (“Honne” meaning your true feelings, those you keep to yourself) and the name of their early record label (“Tatemae”, which reflects the other side: what you say and what you display in public). In time, this dichotomy between an online persona and actual reality has become starker.
Andy journeys back to this idea of duality, something that’s defined HONNE since the beginning. “I love how one side doesn’t exist without the other. These songs have to be there together.” James agrees: “You can’t have good without the bad, and we wanted to show that: not everything is always rosy. In your head, you think everything you aspire to have doesn’t come with its own problems. Relationships, work, home life, family – there’s two sides to it all. Films and TV shows either show the good or bad, but we wanted to show a balance and the grey space.”
‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ achieves exactly that. It’s a journey through grey space, fears and doubts, peaks and pitfalls and the in-betweens. These are soul-searching songs that make you look inwards, to the point where it’s impossible not to relate to each moment of introspection. That, in itself, is a remarkable and rare quality in a band – this ability to make you listen closer to your own thoughts. A sign of success if ever there was one.