Honeyglaze began as the solo moniker of South London-based Anouska Sokolow, but when the opportunity to present her wares live arose, it was obvious that she needed a band to back her. Enter bassist Tim Curtis and drummer Yuri Shibuici into the fold and a very hasty first meeting, a mere three days before their debut gig as a band…
“I was part of this friend group that revolved around Noush’s old band she was in,” Tim explains of his arrival into the group. “It was commonly accepted that she was the best songwriter we knew. It was really obvious that if Noush was going to ask you to play with her, you should probably give it a go.” “I was very tempted to say, ‘Nah, fuck that!’” laughs Yuri, on the contrary. “I was in a lot of bands at the time, and I thought being in another was going to be quite a lot. But I went to this rehearsal anyway, did the first gig, and then I don’t know… it all fell into place nicely. It easily became the band that I wanted to focus on.”
With their chemistry ignited almost immediately, Honeyglaze’s subsequent rise has felt just as effortless. Initial versions of the songs that would come to make up their self-titled debut, released at the end of this month, were more or less in the can as early as Autumn 2020; it was a YouTube live session filmed around this time, however, that inadvertently became their audition for Dan Carey’s cult Speedy Wunderground label.
”It was very random!” explains Anouska. “It was during lockdown; we hadn’t really spoken to anyone else in months. We had recorded these demos in Yuri’s bedroom, and there were rumours that Dan had seen this live video we did in our friend Fran’s garage. Apparently, he loved it! Everything was just messaging like, ‘Dan’s heard this! Dan wants to meet you!’ So we went down to his studio - we were all nervous as hell - and he was like, ‘I wanna do an album’.”
“It was commonly accepted that Anouska was the best songwriter we knew.”
— Tim Curtis
Months of rehearsals later, and Honeyglaze were primed for the studio. “It was definitely so much bigger than everything we’d done before, in multiple ways,” says Tim of the album’s memorable recording sessions. “How long were the days? 10 hours? And it was weirdly really hot for April. Like, bizarrely hot. It was so beautiful, but we had to spend all our time in this room with one window instead of outside. At one point I thought I had Covid because I’d got some sort of heat stroke. I had to go into a dark room and lie down…”
Yet, in spite of the sweltering heat, the eventual record breathes as fresh and pure as a spring morning. A quintessential coming of age debut, Anouska’s songs brim with the growing pains of incipient adulthood. Tracks like ‘Female Lead’ - narrating a misguided attempt to reclaim one’s identity by replicating on-screen heroines - or ‘Creative Jealousy’, an old-as-time tale of lowered self esteem, make light work of earning their listeners’ sympathies.
Indeed the whole album is strewn with heart-warming vignettes such as these. Although sourced from personal experience, they’re expressed with such clarity of thought and directness - harking back to ‘80s romantics Aztec Camera or The Sundays, or to contemporaries like Whitney and Julia Jacklin - that it’s easy to see why the trio have already amassed a devoted following. And, despite being at odds with much of the buzzy post-punk emerging from the capital and beyond (many of which have, too, settled into Speedy Wunderground’s prestigious roster), it’s a style of music which has penetrated that world, and marked out its own Honeyglaze-shaped tract of land within it. Were they ever conscious that they were doing something quite different from their contemporaries?
“I think it’s more the other way round,” asserts Anouska. “I feel like, a lot of the time, we’ve been put in with ‘the scene’. We’ve never tried to consciously fit in with it, but a lot of times we’ve been put on line-ups with post-punk bands. It’s funny for us! We don’t make music like that but, for some reason, we’re part of it.”
Scenesters or not, what’s clear is that Honeyglaze are producing some of the most emotive and refreshing indie songs around. Given the time that has passed since their original conception, how does the singer feel about them now? “It’s a relief to get them out to be honest. They’re a moment in time, of how I felt a couple of years ago now,” she answers before chuckling: “I find them quite silly now! Especially ‘Creative Jealousy’ or whatever, it’s like, ‘Ahh, I remember feeling like that.’ They’re like memories…”