Her music is hauntingly beautiful, combining soft atmospheric production with enthralling lyricism. There’s something so delicately personal and heartfelt music with every single word demanding to be felt. Her voice feels nostalgic and seductively dreamy while the guitar rhythms which anchor her tracks are elegantly fine-grained and subtle.
We chatted with Honey Gentry to hear about her influences, her future and more in an in-depth interview!
Heaven California is a heart-warming delight, how did it come to life?
Thank you! “Heart-warming” is a great compliment. I think it’s the song I am most proud of on the EP, and in general defines the sound of the world I was trying to create. When I wrote the song, I was nearing the end of an incredibly difficult personal situation that had left me feeling kind of isolated and scared for the future. So the lyrics come from a place of longing for something different, for freedom, for dreams. It was just after I had recorded the demo that Ruben (Elbrond Palmer, who wrote and performed the guitars on the EP) actually reached out to me about working together and I think it was the first one we worked on together. When I heard the demo with Ruben’s addition of those dreamy guitars, I just knew that this ethereal, light, intriguing sound was exactly what I had been looking for. We worked on the music throughout 2017, rehearsing and honing the tracks, and then we went into the studio in February 2018. It was my first time in a studio which was really special.
What inspired your name?
I had been making music under my own name for just over a year when I decided I wanted to try something new. I always knew that I didn’t want to use my own name, it really didn’t feel right, and also somehow felt so personal and intimate that I couldn’t write about the things I wanted to write about. So I started searching for a name of the artist that I could become through the music, if that makes sense. Around the same time, I was learning about experimental film on my university course and the tutor played “Ode to Billie Joe” although I can’t remember why. I guess I was too captivated to pay attention. From that day I became really fascinated by Bobbie Gentry, an artist that until that day I hadn’t actually heard of. I found the way she ducked out of the limelight altogether really intriguing too, and added to her air of mystery… It was pure coincidence that I had just started writing songs on a little nylon stringed guitar just like the one she used. But it seemed cosmic in a way. Speaking of those songs, the term “honey” was showing up in all the lyrics, kind of subconsciously. It came up in the lyrics before it was a name or even conscious theme. After toying around with a couple of first names I settled on Honey and Gentry. Something sweet and something mysterious.
Who are the biggest influences on your sound right now?
With every passing year I seem to be revisiting the music I grew up with and studying it with new ears. Mazzy Star, Jeff Buckley, Fleetwood Mac, The Pierces, Sufjan Stevens, Nancy & Lee, Led Zeppelin, Heart, Joan Baez. I’ve been living inside Joan Baez’ first record the last couple of weeks. I used to think I wasn’t really into traditional folk songs but she’s ignited something in me to explore more. John Riley and Donna Donna are heartbreaking. I think it’s the melody. And Silver Dagger is beautiful, probably my favourite on the record. I actually covered her House of the Rising Sun a couple of years ago, and recently played it live for the first time. I’d say she is an artist that I would actively look to for inspiration even if it doesn’t come out in the music that I make personally. I think what I love about artists who have had long careers is that there is decades’ worth of music and artistic development to dive into and explore. And that can be an endless well of inspiration as a very young artist.
Bleed, Honey is another favourite of ours, could you tell us a little about the track?
Thank you! Bleed, Honey is a reflection on the darker side of devotion… our jealousies, insecurities, demons; how they can manifest and rear their ugly heads. I wrote this song in Florida, the chorus came to me in the first few days of the trip while I was at the motel pool. I remember very vividly going to Daytona and sitting in the ocean mulling over the lyrics and being excited about what I was writing. I can’t remember if I wrote this one before or after Heaven California but they were within weeks if not days of each other. I guess the stars had aligned. Bleed Honey is a very hot, almost out of breath song to me, because I’m instantly transported back to that sticky oppressive Florida heat. When we worked on the demo, Ruben added this beautiful slide guitar solo that I felt totally reaffirmed that hot-weather, Americana vibe even though he didn’t know I had written it in America. That solo is one of my favourite moments on the EP.
On Spotify LA and Sao Paulo are the most popular locations for your listeners, how does that feel?
Quite surreal really. Three years ago I had only just written my “first real song” and overcame the first hurdle of simply sharing it online. I never thought anyone outside of my bedroom or possibly my immediate family would ever really listen. Los Angeles in particular is incredibly special, because California itself has been a source of inspiration and a dream of mine throughout my life. Ever since I was super young and obsessed with No Doubt. I was finally able to visit properly for the first time last year and it was the strangest sensation of coming home. It also gives me a sense of satisfaction that although I often feel like the contrary, I must be doing something right… and gives me hope that someday I will be able to visit Sao Paulo! You never know. That would be incredible.
And finally, what does the future hold for you?
The distant future, I try not to think about it. The near future is pretty sweet though. I’ve saved up all my leave (yep – from my 9-5) and will be returning to California in August. Whilst I’m there, I’ve got another track coming out, a little acoustic track called Moonbaby Magic. I’ve also featured on a collaboration which is due out before the end of the year, with my friend Hanel Kingson who is out in Florida. We did a track called “Let’s Make a Movie” which is so different to anything I’ve recorded so far. It’s a sweet dark-pop vibe… I just hope the future holds something positive. I’m always watching the stars…