Brighton quartet Black Honey have shared details of their new album, ‘A Fistful Of Peaches’, and ahead of its announcement, we caught up with the band’s Izzy Phillips to dig a little deeper on what we should expect from the album.
Following on from last year’s ‘Written & Directed’, their forthcoming record will be twelve tracks in length and features previously-release singles ‘Charlie Bronson’ and ‘Out Of My Mind’. Not only that, but their third album also sees Izzy’s songwriting become even more open and raw: “I’ve had to be more honest and vulnerable with myself.”
Having recently returned from a visit to Iceland Airwaves, we spoke to the band’s leader about the catalyst for creating this record, the vulnerability she found herself exploring throughout writing and what fans can expect from the wider album.
You’ve just announced your third album ‘A Fistful of Peaches’! How are you feeling?
Excited and nervous. It feels like the birth of our third child except it gets slightly less painful each time. Tonight we are having a celebration Indian with peach ice cream for pudding.
Where does the name ‘A Fistful of Peaches’ come from?
It’s a homage to ‘A Fistful of Dollars’, so we’re keeping it aligned with the thread of cowboy movies that is our first love. We like peaches because of their symbolism in paintings and books as metaphors for sexuality and purity. And butts, of course.
The album follows last year’s ‘Written & Directed’. When did you start work on it? What was the catalyst to creating it?
We wrote this one in about eight months or so with the exception of ‘Nobody Knows’. I didn’t write a peep in lockdown, it was all afterwards; I was too depressed. The effect that time had on my mental illness and the work I was doing on myself was the catalyst I reckon. I think I’m quite slow at processing stuff so it’s only afterwards I have space to explore.
How does it compare to last year’s record? You’ve described it as “the opposite”. Can you tell us more?
‘Written & Directed’ was me knowing that I self sabotage and kind of being like “I’m fine”, burying problems with booze and being generally destructive. ‘A Fistful of Peaches’ is what happened when I got therapy, started to unpack trauma and actually try and rebuild my brain back. I already listen to ‘AFOP’ as a bit of an outsider. I’m not fixed by any means, and for every album I make, I feel disappointed that I’m still as mentally ill as I was before. I just need to make another one already so that I can put my chaos somewhere good and give everyone around me a break.
You’ve said that you had to be “more honest and vulnerable” during making this album. Can you tell us about the process for you?
Yeah, there was a day or two in the studio when I had a complete meltdown from pushing myself so hard. Sorry if you’re reading this and wanted to hear about how effortlessly the tunes fell out of me. It hurts talking about trauma, sadness and sexual assault in songs. Going to sleep after writing felt like I was gasping for air; I had to sleep a lot more than usual. I could feel my brain working things out.
The tracks still pack that classic Black Honey sonic punch. How was it translating these difficult emotions into that sound?
It felt like maths a lot of the time, making sure I could fit in everything I needed to say and to check each time I wasn’t watering down the facts to make it more palatable.
“‘A Fistful of Peaches’ is what happened when I got therapy, started to unpack trauma and actually try and rebuild my brain back.”
— Izzy Phillips
What made you want to introduce the new album with ‘Heavy’?
It was kind of just timing, there’s a lot of tunes on this one we are putting out ahead of [the release] on 17th March. I don’t even know if ‘Heavy’ is a tone-setter, but it does feel relevant to my story.
Can you tell us a bit more about the song’s story?
We wrote it the day we found out about a friend who was very central to the Black Honey community passing, a year ago almost exactly. The shock kind of took over in this song. If you are someone who suffers with depression, grief hits differently I think.
It comes alongside a video directed by Drag Race UK’s Dakota Schiffer. What was it like working with Dakota?
She’s amazing, I adore her. She is incredibly smart and so beautiful and just 22. As the first trans woman on UK Drag Race I was so proud. We have similar styles and we have been planning to work together for a while. I love drag and I love rock and roll, and now it’s time we brought them together.
What are you most excited for people to hear in ‘A Fistful of Peaches’?
‘Up Against It’, ‘OK’ and ‘Rock Bottom’. ‘Up Against It’ is a letter to my younger self and you can probably tell that I did my prose piece in one take, because it wasn’t as real to remake it somehow.
Are there any surprises that fans can expect?
I think ‘Nobody Knows’ is a plot twist. I like ‘I’m A Man’ because I wrote it from the perspective of a rapist. [The line] “Just like a real man in a toupee and a tan, with a face like a thumb and a spine like a sponge… Sucking out that fun” feels really empowering to sing.
What do you hope that people take away from this record?
I want people to feel less alone. This album is for my fellow neurodivergents and people struggling with mental illness. I hope I’ve been brave enough to shed some light on sexual assault and the female lens. I just want to make the music I needed to hear as a kid.
‘A Fistful Of Peaches’ is out 17th March via FoxFive Records.
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