For those who don’t know the meaning behind Honne and Tatemae (本音と建前）, they are “Japanese words that describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires and the behavior and opinions one displays in public” (as explained by Wikipedia).
Honne is a musical duo hailing from East London. Combining moody electronic beats with beautiful, soulful baritone and glittering cutting guitar, they create their own urban and bitter-sweet soundscape. What lifts Honne’s aesthetic higher than most Post-James Blake R&B peers are in their great songwriting skills. Both being music teachers, their sound juxtaposition is extremely well thought out, and chord progressions and song developments are at its most effective. We spoke to this up-and-coming duo through email to discuss the meaning behind their band name and association with Japanese culture, how the duo came together, and what is in line for their future activities.
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, April 10, 2015
First of all, I would like to ask you about the name of the unit, HONNE, and the name of the label, Tatemae. These two set of words are very familiar to Japanese people. Also on the cover artwork for “Coastal Love”, Japanese tranlastion of the title is used. What is your associasion with Japan? And what is the concept behind it?
James: We first came across the word Honne and loved it on an aesthetic level. But when we looked further into the meaning we felt it really encapsulated what the whole band and our songs were about. So we like the idea of keeping the connection with it. Andy (the singer) also has spent a bit of time in Japan over the last couple of years, and loves the place and people he met whilst visiting. Hopefully we’ll get to go over to play some shows in the not too distant future.
How did HONNE come together as a musical duo?
J: Andy and I met at university about 6 years ago. He was the first person I met actually. We started working on a few different projects together and realised that we worked well together, so have carried on ever since.
When did you realize you wanted to make music?
J: When I was about 12 I was given a guitar by a family member and became completely obsessed with learning how to play it and, since I became capable and able enough to play it, my focus has always been on playing and writing music.
How did you develop your sound as it is now?
J: We spent a long time working on electronic music and developing our production. Eventually we wrote a track that we felt had it’s own sound, so we went about writing more songs in that style, and that became HONNE.
Tell us the creative process of the new EP, “Coastal Love”. The title track sounds nothing like the previously released tracks. Are there anything that you tried to do differently?
J: To be honest, not particularly. The first part of Coastal Love that was written was the slightly house music-like drum beat, and I think that shaped the upbeat feel of the song, along with the summery concept of Coastal Love, which is maybe a slight departure from the more night time feel of our previous tracks.
After the release of the new EP, what can we expect from HONNE in 2015?
We’ve got quite a few gigs lined up in the UK and Europe. Hopefully we’ll get over to the States for a couple of shows. We’ll be releasing more music too of course. Whilst all that is going on, we’ll be working on our album behind the scenes, which is already beginning to take shape. We’re really excited to keep getting music out there, and hopefully play some fun shows.
Their new Coastal Love EP is available to preorder from iTunes.