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Black Honey

Over the last several years, Black Honey have cemented themselves as a truly scintillating act. The band, comprised of frontwoman Izzy B. Phillips, guitarist Chris Ostler, bassist Tommy Taylor, and drummer Alex Woodward, have been mastering their artistic universe, sharpening their Hollywood glamour with a pinch of post-punk tendencies, since forming in 2014 and have continued to bring everyone cinematic vibes, buoyant hooks, and strange yet vibrant music videos. With each successive release, the foursome have done nothing but dispel the grand notions and heavy praise heaped upon them; with rumblings of larger exposure afoot as A Fistful of Peaches is finally released, the band are ready for bigger and better things that this record will inevitably be taking them on.

Created during the same year the group released 2021’s Written & Directed, an album that led to a genuine breakthrough success story, it’s hard to imagine how the band juggled this with the pandemic causing their last records campaign to be pushed back on top of facing the implications of the government’s restrictions. “I get muddled up with the timings a little bit because of what was happening,” Phillips exclaims. “Writing A Fistful of Peaches was weird because, even though Written & Directed came out recently, everyone thinks I’ve flipped an album out of my arse really quickly and I haven’t,” she continues. “It took ages between our last album being finished to actually coming out because of lockdown. We had to move most of our campaign around, pushing it all back, and then by the time it actually got released, I had already started on what you’re hearing now.”

When approaching the writing of the album, Phillips knew where she wanted it to go, noting that it wasn’t easy to explore and that it was only when she began therapy that the doors in her mind began opening, slotting everything into place. “Writing this album was hard,” she says. “It was definitely hard and I pushed even harder,” she adds. “You know, when you’re in therapy, trying to work through things and process it all?” she questions. “I felt like that a lot in this record,” she opens up. “It’s just a lot of me, constantly trying to get my head around things, and with my weird way of processing information, I could feel the clocks turning in my brain, very slowly connecting everything.” 

If the inspiration that Black Honey have previously drawn on could have leaped out of the screen during our call, that’s not going to happen. A Fistful of Peaches finds the band tackling the real world, rather than one inspired by Tarantino movies, where there is already enough drama and bitterness to go around. “I realized it looked like I was creating this villain empire,” begins Phillips. “I was aiming to be a baddie, seeing how villain-like I could be, because I love the idea of villains being this, almost, trauma response,” she says. “Now, I’m like fuck that! What happens when you rip that whole disguise off? What’s underneath it?”

In light of therapy helping things fall into place, “Up Against It,” an emotional and cathartic track, sticks to the band’s promise of a more personal, brave experience; in more ways than one, acts as a form of therapy for listeners. “That is one of my favorite songs to hear how people interpret it,” Phillips begins. “It speaks to everyone so directly and I think it tells me a lot about a person too,” she proclaims. “When I wrote it, it did remind me that things aren’t easy for people and that, even if that’s the case, you’re allowed to feel it,” she tells us. “Any behaviors you exhibit because of what you’re going through is fine and I wish I had someone to remind me of that,” she shares. “I wish I had someone to tell me that you’re not a bad person just because you’re going through a tough time. It’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to feel like you’re not enough,” she emphasizes. “I feel like as a woman too, you hear you’re not good enough, you don’t look good enough, you’re not behaved enough, etc far too often. I want to show compassion and empathy to people in that experience.”

Playing with expectations has also been a huge part of Phillips’ personality within the band, and is something she’s explored during their whole career through being involved in all aspects of their work. “In reality, the stress of putting songs out is so unbearable,” she emphasizes. “Most of the time, it’s based on what video I have made by then because I’m making everything like the little workhorse that I am,” she jokes despite telling the truth. “I hate making videos because they’re also really expensive. They’re stressful and expensive,” she informs us. “We have really high standards but have to achieve it with next to no budget which ends up with me doing all the random ass jobs,” she shares. “I was literally re-organizing furniture, doing Amazon deliveries, ordering everyone’s lunch, etc, all whilst shooting for our last video,” she recounts as if she’s still on set. “Working with Dakota though was amazing. She is amazing,” she preaches. “She was booked for our video prior to Drag Race because I loved her aesthetic and she was stoked by the fact we reached out to her based on that.”

Throughout the time we’ve known of Black Honey, Phillips’ feminism has always been apparent – it’s something she wears proudly on her sleeve – and from listening to their latest record, it’s been exciting to see her harness such empowerment through collaboration as well as lyrical content. “Promoting women in this industry is so important,” she emphasizes. “Since working with Dakota, she’s become one of the smartest girlfriends I have and truthfully, I feel very honored and privileged to have a relationship with someone that can also educate me so eloquently and kindly,” she adds. “She’s got this wise, old that should someone, myself included, make a mistake, she would be able to correct and guide them in a supportive way which is more than any of us would deserve,” she admits before moving on. “No women are free until all women are free,” she stresses. “I feel like it’s everyone’s responsibility to own their privilege and to acknowledge it,” she states. “If everyone defended their actions, no one would improve,” she continues. “Like, it’s okay to get it wrong. We’re all capable of making mistakes, no matter how progressive we feel; I know everyone’s scared of saying the wrong thing but it can be an accident and you can learn from it. You can have good intentions and still be corrected. It’s part of life’s culture.”

Equally empowering in its own right, the standout track “I’m A Man” plays with listeners’ expectations the same way Nirvana’s grunge classic “Polly” does, putting them into the mind of a sexual predator, and worse with its threat-riddled chorus of “I’ll put out your light / All your light, till you’re nothing / I’ll do what I want ’cause remorse isn’t my thing / Equal I mean, no such thing it’s survival.” Phillips recalls writing it as one of the easiest things she’s done. “Honestly, if you start tapping into it, all you have to think about is the excuses people come up with and start victim blaming. It was so easy,” she says, the statement rolling off her tongue. “One of my favorite lines from that song is at the end of the chorus where I say how she was holding her drink to her chest like a bible,” she references. “So, in a rapists mind, she’s the one looking desperate because of where she’s holding her drink. That’s why he’s looking at her chest. She’s the one with the short skirt, it’s clearly her fault,” she rambles, piecing together her amazing thought process to writing the track. “I’m just saying what everyone’s been telling us our whole lives,” she admits. “And, I feel like tackling it from the perspective of a rapist gave me more artistic license to explore the thought processes around it and the justifications that, particularly men, take on but in a more, intellectual, considered way.”

Songs like “Rock Bottom” and “Cut The Cord” are exactly as you’d imagine from the titles, packed with sadness and echoes of lockdown – the latter also being something that, in her head, Phillips wrote for Lewis Capaldi. “We were talking about “Cut The Cord” yesterday and, weirdly, I think it would be a great song for Lewis Capaldi to do,” she shrugs. “Imagine if it was slowed down on the piano, it’s a Lewis Capaldi hit,” she says with confidence before moving on to discuss the record’s surprises. “I think “Nobody Knows” is a bit of a curveball,” she states. “But, the album as a whole has something interesting in each aspect of it,” she assures us. “I think we’ve done a lot of rogue artistic choices that are going to make people wonder what deviation of Black Honey are we going to explore this time.”

As we wrap up our chat, Phillips details what she hopes people take away from A Fistful of Peaches. “I want people to come away from this record with more forgiveness for themselves,” she shares. “I want to give them a little break from the bullshit in their lives and act as a reminder that it’s okay not to be okay. I’m basically hoping that our album gives them some form of escapism,” she says. “It would also be sick to see people fall in love, have their first kiss, come out, and all of that fun stuff to it. It’s always nice thinking you could be part of someone’s best moments like that.”