South London based duo Bad Honey blend dreamy vocals, bouncing beats and lo-fi electronics to create their upbeat, alt-soul sounds. Formed of Lydia Clowes & Teresa Origone, the duo have received radio support from the likes of BBC Introducing London, BBC Radio 6, Amazing Radio, and from Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist.
We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Lydia & Teresa to ask her about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced their song writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to watch Bad Honey’s video for ‘Weak When You’re Near’ in collaboration with O2 Music & their ‘Music Box’ challenge, at the end of this post.
1. James Blake – Assume Form
Teresa: James Blake’s melodies are the best melodies. His music makes me want to make sure I keep trying to find the best possible melodies when I write. I always loved James Blake, so I wanted to listen to this album as soon as it came out. The day before it was released, I was in the Netherlands playing keys for an artist called Rina Mushonga. We were there for only one day, but had a long day of travelling to play for a TV session, then drove back to Amsterdam for a radio session in the evening, then decided to go for a walk in Amsterdam in the snow, and ended up having a three hour sleep because our flight back to London was really early the next morning. As soon as I got home, I played the album. I was exhausted and I remember having one of those moments where you are reminded of how happy music can make you feel. It happened when I first heard ‘Into The Red’ when the twinkly piano comes in about 40 seconds into the song. It’s so tiny and delicate and it makes you want to cling onto it. The use of tension and release in that song is amazing. You really want something big to happen at the end of the first chorus, but it just doesn’t happen until the second chorus.
Lydia: I love how James Blake’s songs are very atypical and don’t adhere to a “normal” song structure necessarily. Often his songs don’t have an obvious verse or chorus but he somehow manages to give you the feeling of tension and release in other ways. The production on this record is great and the fact that he does it all himself, I feel that this album was a particular motivation to me and Teresa to start producing our own music. I particularly love ‘Into The Red’, ‘Can’t Believe the Way We Flow’ and ‘I’ll Come Too’ on this album, they all have such a great way of portraying a feeling of love through interesting lyrics, without being cheesy, which I’ve found quite a hard thing to achieve!
2. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
Teresa: This album is a reminder that you need to be brave with your music, and you can do whatever you want with it. I discovered St. Vincent when she released her album Actor. I think I just saw an article on Pitchfork about it and decided to listen to it, and it took a couple of listens for it to grow on me, but I’ve loved her music since then. I was 18 then, and I remember thinking that it would be cool to produce my own music at some point. She’s one of those artists who I will always love, and will always find something new to love about her each time I listen to her music. Strange Mercy is my favourite St. Vincent album. It’s so dreamy and heavy at the same time, which for me is one of the best things you can achieve in music. I love how loud and direct the guitar is, kind of at the same level as her voice. And I don’t know how she made the backing vocals sound like that, but it sounds so great. My favourite moments on the album are the weird guitar riff on ‘Surgeon’, and the craziness at the end of ‘Northern Lights’. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.
3. Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room
Lydia: I first heard of Laura Mvula with ‘Green Garden’ when I had just moved to London and I loved everything she represented. She was making a blend of music that I’d not really heard before and I loved it and wanted to make this myself. I found out she was from Birmingham, which is near to where I grew up so this helped to inspire me to think I could do it too! This album for me has an overwhelming feeling of female empowerment and joy, and therefore it really resonated with me from the first time I listened to it.
I love how Laura Mvula has always had a really unique style of what seems to me, orchestral inspired pop songs, using interesting chord progressions, simple but strong melodies and for me one of my favourite things is her use of close vocal harmonies. I’ve always loved vocal harmonies and I think she uses them so effectively throughout this album, with the emotion of her voice really coming through. This album is also produced by Troy Miller who I think is a genius, I’ve loved many of his other album productions such as Gregory Porter’s ‘Liquid Spirit’ and Jamie Cullum’s ‘Taller’. ‘Overcome’ has such a strong emotion, especially the outro where it builds and builds on the same melody which never gets old, she’s really good at doing this and I could listen to this forever! ‘Show Me Love’ is an amazing song. The intro is almost like an recitative in an opera, and sets the rest of the song up beautifully. I find this song quite deeply sad, but it one of my favourites of the album. My other favourite is ‘Phenomenal Woman’ I just absolutely love this song, it’s so feel good. I remember clearly dancing in the back of a car whilst driving up to Glasgow on a tour to this song. It just makes me want to move, and I love the fact it’s written about her Grandma. Elements throughout the album reflect back to this too with ‘Nan’, a phone calls between Laura and her Grandma. I am keenly awaiting an album 3 for Laura Mvula!
4. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
Teresa: This is my album of choice for when I’m driving and want to play something really loud (through my tiny bluetooth speaker). I’m not someone who grew up listening to hip hop, I discovered it quite late and I am still slowly discovering it, but I think everyone should listen to this album regardless of what kind of music they usually listen to. Not that I think people really listen to music based on genre, but hip hop in particular can be so diverse and free and it can incorporate so many types of music, and this album is such a good example of that. The arrangements are amazing, there is so much happening, so many details, and it’s so intricate and colorful. More is more and I really agree with that. I love how much space is given to instrumental sections, the songs are so progressive and each section flows into a new one each time. This is definitely one of those albums I’d need to listen to the whole way through from beginning to end, and I wouldn’t be able to remember even one title of each individual song, because it’s a whole journey. It’s also full of analog synths, so it was just made for my ears. It’s a great example of how making music is just fun, and making music means exploring where you can go without limiting yourself to a structure or a genre.
5. Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?
Lydia: Lianne La Havas has one of my favourite vocalists, so this album was instantly a favourite of mine. I first saw Lianne on Jools Holland singing ‘Age’ in 2011. I just thought she was brilliant, the song was light-hearted and almost humorous, her voice was amazing and her guitar playing was interesting. She was not just your average singer songwriter strumming on a guitar, she could actually play quirky riffs, harmonics, and was also playing electric which I thought was extremely cool. Again like Laura Mvula, I think I discovered Lianne La Havas when I was at a stage in my life when I wasn’t yet sure who or what I wanted to do and be in terms of music, and so she was a huge inspiration for me. Seeing a young woman playing great music, with incredible instrumentation, talent, and confidence was exhilarating. I generally prefer the more acoustic songs on this album, as I think it really showcases Lianne’s voice, such as ‘Lost & Found’, ‘Au Cinema’ and ‘Gone’. Again, she uses lots of vocal harmonies throughout the album, and I love that.
Thanks to Lydia & Teresa for sharing their favourites with us. Follow Bad Honey on Facebook for more updates.