Black Honey's 'Written & Directed': It’s about the intricacies & the complexities of being a woman
After the release of their critically acclaimed debut album in 2018, Black Honey have returned with their most authentic sound yet in the form of Beaches and Run for Cover from their upcoming album Written & Directed.
The Brighton four-piece have been a staple band within the alternative music scene in the UK since 2015, with teenagers and adults alike, singing along to the songs that had shaped their youth and were the soundtrack to their everyday lives. It wasn’t a successful festival season unless you had moshed at least once to All My Pride. So it was no surprise that their self-titled debut album ended up in the UK Top 40 and landed them coveted slots in festivals all around the world, including Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds, as well as supporting bands such as Royal Blood and Queens of The Stone Age. Achieving all this whilst keeping their authentic and wild vision that they first hit the scene with 6 years ago.
Now they’re back with their most ‘Black Honey’ sound yet with their sophomore album Written & Directed, which is a “ten track mission statement that aims to unashamedly plant a flag in the ground for strong, world-conquering women”, something that their electric frontwoman and protagonist Izzy B. Phillips was excited to discuss during our phone call.
With the band hiding away in the studio for the past two years, there’s been a lot of changes and collaborations behind the scenes. “Originally ‘Run for Cover’ was meant to be for Royal Blood!” Izzy explains as we dive into their dynamics within the studio, “And then the direction changed for what we wanted to do with the record so I was like ‘Can I just take that song?’”. With the song’s demo being from a male perspective they could have easily changed it to fit their narrative but instead they decided to keep the originality. “So much of what Mike did on the demo we wanted to keep to be like very truthful and honest from the perspective that we tried to create so like that’s why we didn’t change any of the lyrics that we wrote, all the lyrics are from a perspective of a man and I just really love the fact that we kept them the same, it felt really empowering!”
Talking about empowering, it’s no secret that the band is constantly pushing the boundaries of being unapologetic and authentic, and it doesn’t stop with their self-proclaimed vagina-rock sound. “It’s cock-rock but with less cock!” Izzy proclaimed with confidence before continuing to define it further. “The idea being that women can also feel like egotistical and badass and fierce and gloomy and dark”.
“The whole point why we wanted to do vag rock is to break these binary boxes and standards of how women should be, like women can be angry and women can be weird and complex, we’re not just damsels who are either sexy or just angry you know?”
With the live music industry currently at a standstill except the introduction of socially distanced gigs, light has been dimmed on the discussion of equality on line-ups, but it ended up being a key topic in our discussion. “We felt a bit lenient like yeah, there are less women in music and like in bands in general so like we can’t expect 50/50 all the time” Izzy explains, “But then four years on I’m a bit like, I know festivals need to sell tickets to make money but there’s also like if you don’t take the opportunity to change culture, we should be creating the change we want to see.” The band are not strangers to following on to their words with action, with working hard to getting an even split with their crew and demand that they get the respect that they deserve.
“We made up like our own festival… and it would be like Lana Del Rey, Billie Eillish, Florence and the Machine, with then The Nova Twins headlining an Alternative stage! I don’t care about the perspective of yet another white dude in jeans on stage, I want to hear from the underdog like the person that has been silenced and not had a chance to speak, that’s what I want to hear about!”
Having announced the album just last week, they’ve already managed to sell the same amount of copies as they had of their debut in just 72 hours, making it an impressive feat and an exciting time. “There’s tons of collaborations on the next record, there’s tons of exploration but I feel like in all of that it feels like the most Black Honey thing we’ve ever made.”
“Imagine like the whole thing is a cinematic movie about all of the underdogs in society and they come together and find their fierceness. Ultimately, it’s about the intricacies and the complexities of being a woman.”
But that’s not the only exciting thing that they released alongside the album, there was also the collector’s item that hard-core Black Honey fans would die to get their hands on. Introducing the ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ Vinyl. “We’re going to get our blood, swear and tears collected and we’re going to press them into our vinyl! The first 500 records will have them pressed and it’s been on the cards for about 6 months now.”
With so much to look forward to in a year so far filled with gloom, maybe Black Honey was meant to come out of the shadows and save us with their vagina rock and intricate and crazy ideas.