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Interview with HONNE

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HONNE03_NeoL | Photography : Riku Ikeya

女優のミラ・ジョヴォヴィッチが熱烈なサポーターであることも知られるイギリスのポストR&Bデュオ、HONNE。ヴォーカル、プロデューサーのアンディはかつて日本に滞在し、グループ名に「本音」と付けるほどの日本びいきの彼らは昨年リリースのアルバム『Warm On A Cold Night』がヒットを記録し、その後のライヴを通じて、じわじわとロングセールスを続けている。生楽器を織り込んだトラックにソウルミュージックのあたたかみが注ぎ込む彼らの音楽哲学、HONNEの本音について話を訊いた。

──HONNEの音楽は、James BlakeやRhye、Inc. No WorldをはじめとするポストR&Bの系譜にありつつ、生音がふんだんに用いられていて、さらに言えば、そのミックス具合が独特ですよね。

アンディ「僕らのサウンドはプロフェットというシンセサイザーが一つの鍵になっているんだ。ただ、僕らはエレクトロニック・ミュージックが好きではあるけれど、同時にいい曲を作りたいと思っていて、それが独特なミックスに反映されているんだと思う」

ジェームス「エレクトロニック・ミュージックにはダンサブルなものとエクスペリメンタルなものがあって、例えば、James Blakeはエクスペリメンタルなものだと思うし、Caribouはダンサブルなものだよね。僕らの場合はそうではなく、ソング・オリエンテッドなものを作りたいと思っているし、そうなった時、やっぱり、曲の主軸はヴォーカルとピアノということになるよね」

──特にライヴにおいては、生楽器が用いられることで、HONNEの楽曲に変化が生まれていますよね。

ジェームス「そうだね。ラップトップのみのライヴが機能するアーティストもいると思うんだけど、僕らの場合はバンドと一緒にライヴをすることで、確かに一回一回のライヴに変化が生まれているし、レコーディングで作り込んだ楽曲をライヴで演奏しているうちに、どんどんライヴが面白くなってきているのは確かだよ。周りを見渡しても、そういうアーティストが増えているんじゃない? 例えば、Chance the RapperにはThe Social Experimentっていうバンドがあるし、Frank OceanやKendrick Lamarもミュージシャンと積極的にコラボレーションしているよね。そういったアーティストに刺激を受けつつ、僕らも僕らなりに同じような音楽を繰り返し作るんじゃなく、サウンドをどんどん進化させていこうと心がけているんだ」

HONNE_NeoL | Photography : Riku Ikeya

──曲のアイデアはお互いが出し合うんですよね?

アンディ「まず、それぞれが集中しながら作って、最後にそれぞれのアイデアを合わせていくんだけど、お互いが出したアイデアに対して、どういうリアクションをするか分からないでしょ?だから、相手の反応を想定しながら、アイデアを出すんだけど、それに対して、相手が上手く乗れなかったら、そのアイデアはそれまでだし、それが上手くハマれば、作業はスムーズに進むんだ」

ジェームス「そうかと思えば、“Gone Are The Days”って曲は自分たちのなかで出来がイマイチだと思ってて、お蔵入りになりかけたんだけど、何人かに聴かせたら、この曲すごくいいじゃん!っていう反応があって。結果として、作品としてリリースされたんだけど、自分たちがイマイチだと思っても、リスナーにとってはいい曲だったりすることもあったりして、音楽には何があるか分からないし、出したアイデアに対して、こうだと決めつけないで、柔軟に対応することも大事だなって思うよ」

──昨年リリースされたアルバム『Warm On A Cold Night』は制作に2年を要した作品ということですが、今の音楽シーンのめまぐるしいトレンドの移り変わりを受けて、その2年の間に目指すアルバムのイメージはぶれることがなかったんですか?

ジェームス「なかったね。2人で音楽を作り始めた当初はとりあえず沢山、曲を作ろうというところから始めたんだけど、そうした試行錯誤を踏まえつつ、アルバムを作る段階では真っ新な状態から始めることができたし、僕らにとってはそうやって作品を作ることができたのは、その間に移り変わるトレンドを取り入れるより、何より大切なことだった」

アンディ「いい曲っていうのは、トレンドは関係ないし、タイムレスなものだよね。僕らがライヴでカヴァーしているDarondoの“Didn’t I”という曲は70年代の曲にもかかわらず、いまだにフレッシュに響くし、どうしてフレッシュなままなのかというと、当時のトレンドに則った曲だからではなく、ヴでカヴァーしているダロンドの“Didn’t I”という曲は70年代の曲にもかかわらず、いまだにフレッシュに響くし、どうしてフレッシュなままなのかというと、当時のトレンドに則った曲だからではなく、それ自体がいい曲だからじゃない? そんなタイムレスな作品を作るのが自分たちの目標だよ」

──お二人がお好きなアーティストの一人、Michael Jacksonもまさにそんなタイムレスなアーティストですもんね。

ジェームス「ホントその通りだよ。Justin TimberlakeもBruno Marsもアルバム丸々一枚でマイケル・ジャクソンをコピーしているだろ? そうやってみんながコピーしたがるのは、彼の音楽には時代を経ても変わらない素晴らしさがあるからでしょ。まぁ、Michael Jacksonになりたいと言うと恐れ多いけど(笑)、彼が生み出した名曲の数々に一歩でも近づけるといいね」

photography Riku Ikeya
interview & edit Ryoko Kuwahara
text Yu Onoda

AWS1600805-HONN1
HONNE
『Warm On A Cold Night』
(Warner Music)
https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B01LTHLPOC?ie=UTF8&tag=wmgjp0c-22&linkCode=as2&camp=247&creative=1211&creativeASIN=B01LTHLPOC
https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/warm-on-a-cold-night-deluxe/id1107603110?app=itunes
http://tower.jp/search/item/WPCR-17224/

HONNE
2014年にシングル「Warm On A Cold Night」をリリース以来、 UKでじわじわと人気と話題を集めているロンドン出身のエレクトロ・デュオ、HONNE(本音)。温かみのあるエレクトロ・サウンドにヴィンテージ・ソウルやポップなフックを融合させた、“時代を超える”都市型ナイト・ミュージックとも呼べそうなエレクトロ・ポップ・サウンドとともに、日本語の“本音”からとったというバンド名や、日本盤を意識したアートワークなどの“日本好き”な一面でも、注目を集めている二人である。シンガーのAndyとプロデューサーのJamesからなるHONNE(本音)。大学で出会った二人はレディオヘッド好きという共通点で意気投合し、共に音楽を作り始めるようになる。ちなみにインパクト大なユニット名は、日本語の「本音」が持つ意味を気に入り、まさに自分たちの作っている曲を表していると考えたことから、付けられたという。デビュー・シングルとなる「Warm On A Cold Night」、それに続く「The Night」(2nd EP『All The The Value』に収録)がストリーミングで再生回数を稼ぎ、HONNEの存在はじわじわと話題を集めるようになっていく。2015年には自身のレーベル“TATEMAE RECORDINGS”(こちらも日本語の「建前」からとっている)から通算3作目のEP「COSTAL LOVE」をリリース。2016年にはメジャー・デビュー・アルバム『Warm On A Cold Night』をリリースし、単独初来日公演も大盛況に終えた。さらに翌年もSummer Sonic 2017や来日単独公演で日本のオーディエンスを沸かせたことも記憶に新しい。
https://wmg.jp/artist/honne/

HONNE02_NeoL | Photography : Riku Ikeya

-How was Summer Sonic?

Andy : I loved it. It was really cool. It’s great to do a festival where you play two different cities. We like it because we get to see a bit more of the place. It’s so great to come and play in Japan. As a country it’s one of our favorite places.

James : Yeah, it’s amazing. Fans are always so lovely here, and everyone you work with on stage are so organised, super helpful, fast, and everything. At loads of festivals people are really slow especially in this heat, but everyone in Japan is running around and getting everything done.

-So I was thinking, and I was comparing your music to James Blake, INC., and other post-R&B artists. She thought your live sound is one of your features of your music and at the same time the layer of the sound is very unique.How do you make music?

Andy : When we first started out, James Blake and INC., were just the selection of bands or artists we were listening to. I don’t know, but I think one of our main components for us is a synth that James Bank uses called the “Dave Smith’s profit”. Dave Smith is the company and the name of the keyboard is called “the profit”. It’s a synthesiser. That’s one of the main components that you hear. We just wanted to make electronic music that has a good song because we’re big fans of electronic music, but some of is rather really dancey or very experimental like James Blake is on the experimental side of things. And another artist like Caribou, they are more dancey. But we wanted to have a more song that I can just play on the piano and you can just sing it, and it would be still a nice song.

-Do you think there is some magic or something with live instrumental? Do you think live instrumental can make something that digital equipment can’t make?

James : Yeah, definitely.

-What is it?

James : For us, we want to incorporate a live band around our show because there is just some magic to it. When we first started playing live we thought of the different roots we can take. One of them was just us behind a laptop, kind of triggering things. Although that works for some bands or some artists, we just thought it would be better to do it with a band. I think, for us, it just makes it more interesting. Like after night, our bass player might do something he’s never done before. Or out drummer might do something, and it just keeps us on our toes, and makes it difference every night.

-So lately, solo musicians are popular every time she asks “Who’s your favorite musician?” it’s usually like Frank Ocean. But you guys are a band. How do you digest?

Andy : The thing is all those people, they’re solo-artists but they work with other people. They’re working with like, Chancetherapper was part of a group called the Social Experiment, and some of them produce stuff for him or play instruments on his track. I think we just listen to stuff like that and just hear all these different producers, and it’s very inspiring to hear because they have amazing ideas. It makes us strive too, and always make sure that everything we do is as interesting and not just do a copy of ourselves again. You get used to your own sound, but we need to keep on moving and try to make something that’s exciting.

-Musical trends are always changing very fast, and you took 2 years to make the album right?

James : Yeah.

-Did the idea in what kind of album you want to make change in the process of making it?

James : Our first album will be like a different thing to what our next one is to be, so for the first album it was….Not that we were thinking about making an album, we had just written a loads of songs, and when it came to putting out an album it was like we were just taking a pick from all those songs. Whereas now, we’ve got the opportunity to actually kind of start from fresh and the next we can put out, apart from the old songs here and there, but the next thing we will put out will be on our second album. We are working on it, and making an album together, so yes it’s a different piece, but I think I prefer this. Because we can be more creative. We’re three quarters of the way through now, and we’re trying to think of what’s missing.

-So you don’t care about the trend or anything like that?

James : I think we’re absorbing music that is current anyway. I don’t know, but I think what we found out there’s like a group people that like Andy’s voice on the kind of music that we make. So as long as we’re carrying on like Andy’s singing, we’ve got a bit of a profit in Andy’s voice. But that’s not always the case.

Andy : Yeah, I don’t know but it’s like a feel isn’t it?

James : It’s like Andy’s voice, the things we’re singing about, and the overall vibe of a song. It doesn’t have to sound exactly the way as it did before. Hopefully people will carry on liking that.
The other thing I would say is that I don’t a song ages. I don’t think a good song is dependent on trend. It should be able to be timeless. There’s a song from forty years ago that we did a cover of, Didn’t I (by Darondo), and that’s like forty or fifty years old. It’s from the seventies, isn’t it? But yeah, you can make that song current, just by changing production. So yeah, I don’t think it really does age, as long as you’re writing good songs that should be fine.

-You guys like Michael Jackson as well?

James : Yeah. It’s still like one of the most popular songs like “Billie Jean”. All of that stuff still sound awesome. Or like Justin Timberlake. He’s like a copy of Michael Jackson in a way. And Bruno Mars. His whole new album is basically Michael Jackson songs.

-As you guys starting to talk about Michael Jackson, I like how your face was like “ yeah!!”. (laughs)

James : Yeah, I love him! He’s the best!!

-When you guys were making the first album, you were in Japan right? So we you guys exchanging data?

Andy : Yeah.

-How about now? How do you guys make music?

Andy : It’s still kind of the same. Not that I’m in Japan, but we live two minutes away from each other.

-But you guys don’t want to see each other? (laughs)

Andy & James : Yeah. (laughs)

Andy : I think it just allows us to work individually, and focus on what we’re strongest at without kind of getting in each other’s way. Although we do, at the end of the process, get together to work to finish the song. Which is good because it’s nice to have someone to bounce off of. I think for a lot of solo artists…like a friend of ours like Shura, she’s a Japanese solo artist. She’s just by herself, and she works for other people, but it took her a long time to finish her first album, and I think maybe it’s just because she’s there by herself, and she doesn’t really have another person to bounce ideas with. It’s just confirmation of whether an idea is good or not. And that’s why the process can take so long.

-At the end of the process, you guys try to blend and mix your guys’ ideas right? So Andy, what do you think about James ideas? What does it tend to be like?

Andy : I don’t know. I think Jame’s got a pretty hard job because he often starts with instrumental. He’ll be starting from scratch. Sometimes for when a lot of things, we have a dropbox, where we share loads or a couple of ideas. Most of them are really good, but there’s some stuff that not everyone is going to like.

James : This is like a counseling session. Because I’ve got to try and capture Andy’s imagination, and make him want to write lyrics. So if he doesn’t think, when he listens to it almost first time, “Oh I’ve got an idea, I can easily sing on this.” Or sometimes you like an idea, but it just doesn’t come easy, so stuff like that. Sometimes, I’ll put something in there that I spent an hour on and I don’t even tell him about it because I just not sure if it’s good, and he might say “I like that thing you did”, and that might go really fast and we’ll make a song out of it within a couple of days. So it’s really really hard to tell what someone else is feeling. There’s songs that we still think that aren’t that good, or didn’t share with anybody. There’s one called “Gone are the days”, but we didn’t share it to anybody really. And then we shared it to a few people, and they were like this is your best song. It just got out of control. What we thought was awful, we just continued to work on it until we liked it. The initial version we made, we thought no one’s going to like it. But it ended up to be one of the songs that big in like Europe, and it got picked up radio stations and stuff. So like we have no idea about what people are going to like.

-It’s a material, or like an object, it’s sound so you can never tell, yeah?

Andy : We might be listening to it because we love production. We really listen out for, posiibly too much, and I think the general population love lyrics and melody of the chords, and everything else is almost secondary to them. So I think maybe that’s why.

-I goes to East London very often..

James : Oh really where do you go?

-So I have a lot of friends living there and work as well.Do you go to oto-cafe?

James : Yeah, I love it there.

-Are there any places you would recommend to us in East London?

James : Well we live really close to Hackney Wick, so there’s a brewery that also sells pizza called “Crate”, near the canal. How you heard of it? You can sit inside, outside, or on a boat. It’s like an indoor boat. Next door to that, it like a square, and there’s a place called “Howdy Hops”. That is like a beer fanatic bar, and it has the freshest beer that’s possible. They make the beer in these big tanks, and then they pour it from the tank, straight from the one they made it in. So there’s no like switching.

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