Hello and welcome to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… which aims to get you a little bit closer to the buzziest acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.
Today, it’s the turn of London via South Africa trio HONEYMOAN, whose debut releases ‘</3’ and ‘We’ were born of their very first jam in Cape Town. Five years on from those singles, and we find the trio - frontwoman Alison Rachel, multi-instrumentalist Skye McInnes, and producer Josh Berry - gearing up to share their debut album, ‘Sorry Like You Mean It’. Exploring personal experiences of strained relationships and mental ill-health in the face of the global turbulence of the past few years, the record is a beacon of self-love against the odds. We catch up with Alison to dig into HONEYMOAN’s origins, internal dynamics, and the South African equivalent of sticky toffee pudding (yum!).
What was the first gig you ever went to?
The first gig I ever attended was Max Normal in Cape Town. You may know him as Ninja from Die Antwoord - this was the project he had before that. Growing up in Cape Town we rarely had international artists visiting, but had a pretty healthy local music scene.
Who were some artists that inspired you when you were just starting out (and why)?
When we first started making music together, I had never written music or played in a band before. We weren't intending on creating something serious at the time, we were simply having fun and trying stuff out. I personally wasn't "inspired" by any artist, I didn't really even consider myself one since I'd never played in a band or written music before. Josh and Skye had played in many bands so perhaps they had more of a vision for the project. I remember Josh being inspired by Tame Impala at the time, and one of our first songs 'We' reveals some of that psychedelic influence.
You're from South Africa and had your first jam in Cape Town. What do you think of the music scene there?
I'm not super up to date with the scene there having lived out the country for a few years, but from what I can see there's a lot of great stuff happening; there's a slowly growing alternative scene which is exciting to see. We obviously left SA because there wasn't much of a scene, so hopefully it will continue to grow as more talented young people are inspired to create interesting music.
Your debut album 'Sorry Like You Mean It' is out at the end of this month, and explores your personal experiences of love and relationships. Do you find being so lyrically open in any way daunting?
Not really, when you publish a song it no longer belongs to you and you kind of become irrelevant - it turns into something that the listener imbues with their own experiences and meaning, so I don't feel too precious about exposing myself in my lyrics. A lot of people don't even listen to lyrics haha (including my band mates), so I think it's fine.
“Music is the most powerful tool for communicating ideas I’ve found, since it’s not just the words but the frequencies that carry meaning and intention and feeling too.”
The video for your recent single 'Show You Off' was shot on film and has a really warm, intimate feel to it that's a big contrast to the greenscreen catastrophes of 'We're on an Island, but it's the UK'. How would you sum up the HONEYMOAN aesthetic?
HONEYMOAN's aesthetic is a random collection of whatever inspires us during the writing of each song. We're less consistent in sound and aesthetic, so can do a lot of different things. I guess it's because we're a project made up of three very different individuals, which in a sense is a challenge when trying to create something cohesive aesthetically, but also is great when in the studio coming up with (I think) quite unique music. We have a very special creative connection.
Besides being a musician you're also an author, illustrator, and run a social media platform. How do these other outlets inform your music?
It's all an extension of who I am as an artist and a person. I think it's probably easy to see some thematic threads running through my songs and other writing. I like to think about stuff haha, and find accessible ways of communicating my ideas, which I guess can be a bit abstract. Music is the most powerful tool for communicating ideas I've found, since it's not just the words but the frequencies that carry meaning and intention and feeling too.
Finally, we're coming round for dinner - what are you making?
The seasons have changed, the temperature has dropped, cosy food weather is upon us. We're having ramen (vegetarian). We have a dessert in South Africa that's similar to your sticky toffee pudding, it's called malva pudding - that's on the menu too.
'Sorry Like You Mean It' is out on 29th September.