• Monika Zoń

Women & Witches: Honeyblood

Three albums in, Honeyblood maintains searing guitars and bad-ass lyrics.

Image by Marieke Macklon

Honeyblood's new album will be released next month and there is definitely a whole crypt of the scary and the amazing. Clearly her most ambitious (and solo!) work, "In Plain Sight" will be a record to watch out for, with "Glimmer" already setting the tone for a stunning piece of work.

Music is important to any musician – but there is so much more to Honeyblood’s very own Stina Tweedale. We talk history, witch hunting kings, girl power and even mention her new album!

So how are you feeling with the album and the tour coming up?

S: Yeah, apprehensive – a little bit, as always. But I’m excited to get going.

And what are you looking forward to most with the tour?

S: I’m excited to get this new band going, to be honest! I think it’s going to be really fun for me because it’s going to be a bit different. Having some new faces to cheer with is going to be fun.

The artwork for “In plain sight” is beautiful! You said you drew upon the theme of illusion and deception – why is that?

S: Thank you! I’ve just been… I feel like this album has been a little bit of a self-discovery, to be honest – obviously being my first solo record. I’ve been trying to figure out what I was going to do for so long and I kind of just started, it started pushing at the back of my mind. I’ve tried a few different things and they didn’t work and, you know, I was just like what am I doing here? Then everything started to click into place. It was like it was staring at my face the whole time – it was so obvious – and actually, maybe I should’ve done that ages ago and I felt like I was being a little bit silly. All the lyrics really fall to this theme of illusion and things not being what they seem - all of them and I can’t think of one of them that doesn’t - so it really kind of…worked. I can’t wait to introduce the record.

Your video release for Third Degree looks amazing, too. Is there a direction you’re going with, with the videos for the upcoming album? Any inspirations?

S: Haha – a lot of the songs I listen to is kind of, like glam rock stuff so the visuals are like that. I totally love that era, kind of like T. Rex who are one of my favourite bands and that kind of stuff I think is cool. I guess I said I wasn’t going to make another spooky album but here we are. There are definitely some spooky parts on the record. So, if you mix 70’s glam rock with Victorian witches – that…that’s what you get.

I guess I said I wasn’t going to make another spooky album but here we are.

I mean it works for you!

S: Yeah, I guess so. I definitely have done the ‘witchey’ thing. It feels so comfortable to be honest.

Growing up in Scotland, you must’ve grown up around the folklore and the witchcraft and the witch hunt history. That must’ve been amazing for you.

S: Oh yeah, I mean I’m totally obsessed with it. I mean I once went to a pilgrimage to the house where the last witch of Scotland lived and she was hung in like, the 1700’s. Parts of her house are still there you can go have a look at it! I went there because I’m into all of that stuff. I did a history degree with history and Scottish history so I’m, well, well versed in it all.

Your history degree seems to be influencing your music a little too, then? Witch history in Britain is such an interesting topic, I’m doing my history coursework on it right now –

S: No way! I’m interested now. So what are you doing?

I’m doing my coursework on the 17th century witch hunts and also looking at Scotland's impact on English witch trials.

S: Alright. Cool. This is fun. We can talk about this! So you’re looking at James VI? He wrote Daemonologie right?

Yes, and I’m linking it to his actions in England. – how he kind of came in and said he didn’t like England and that it wasn’t strict enough.

S: He’s really interesting – he wrote what is essentially a conduct book, right? And then he gave permission to people to appoint themselves as witch finders. So random people, for money, would just say like I can help you find the witch. It was a way of people conning other people to say “oh it must be your neighbour, that lonely old lady. No ones cares about her. It must be her. That’s the witch.”

If you don’t like your neighbour, you’re starving and they have a sack of potatoes – well, it’s an easy answer to what you do.

S: Yeah! Exactly! Get them hung!

Marathon Artists

Exactly. If we link this conversation back to your music…do any witches of the past haunt your music and its inspiration today?

S: Oh! I mean, not any real ones only fictitious ones really. I’m so into anything to do with all of it. The Craft is like my number one. I’ve been really enjoying the new Sabrina, because I really – I have a black cat, who is pretty much Salem. His name is Lucifer – he looks just like Salem. I was quite sad that Salem wasn’t like a funny creature who talks like a Jim Henson puppet. But I quite liked the dark side of it, that was quite good. Kind of looks like all my music videos!

Now you mentioned an iconic name like Jim Henson - having toured with bands such as the Foo Fighters, which artist or artists (dead or alive) would you love to tour with?

S: Dead or alive? I can choose a dead one then, I guess. It would probably be Jeff Buckley. The whole thing made me so sad because I really feel like he could have made so much more incredible music – he’s such a big influence on my guitar playing. I learned a lot from him.

What music are you into at the moment?

S: Oh, new stuff!? I listen to – I try to listen to new stuff all the time. I still listen to all the albums that I love but I try to keep it fresh and new. I have been listening to Jenny Lewis’ new album because I love her and she is one of my absolute icons, it’s really interesting and really good; the visuals are also amazing. A friend of mine just realised a record, Rebecca (previously from Slow Club) released a self-titled record under the name “Self Esteem” and I’ve been to see her a couple of times. And she’s just amazing. I think it’s such an interesting album. It’s just so good to see someone hone in their own creativity and really do what they want to do and not compromise on it, as well as using the tools of those around them to make something really, really wonderful. It’s a great album. Those two have been on repeat.

You’ve said Glimmer is about the “wonders of women” – what wonderful women would you say shaped you as a person or even influenced your music?

S: So many! I used to be in a band with three boys for four years and I really lost a lot of know-how and female relationships. I missed it so much. I’m really close with my dad as well and I realised that most of my younger years I spent more time with dudes than women. In my early 20’s, I started to really appreciate the strange women I have in my life now. I think there’s something really special about female friendship. A lot of the time we are in films and books and things, but we are given such a one-dimensional role. I think it’s so important to show female friendship as in having all of this…colour to it. I definitely try to write about that. Someone said, about Glimmer, “why is every song turning into a man-hating rant?” And I’m like… Glimmer is not a man-hating rant. Glimmer being a strong, bad-ass lady doesn’t automatically mean you hate men. I just couldn’t believe someone thought that – we have such a long way to go.

Glimmer being a strong, bad-ass lady doesn’t automatically mean you hate men.

It’s like the witch hunts – seeing women as one dimensional.

S: Yeah. Seeing someone as a complex creature – too much effort, right?

Looking into someone? Crazy. Do you have any tips for new comers – especially girls – going into the alternative music scene?

S: One tip I will give is, even if you don’t feel confident, be confident. Even if you have to fake it. A lot of the time, ha, that’s what boys do! Boys have bravado because they’re not told they can’t do something whereas women are told, all the time, oh well you probably can’t do that. Also, having a female brain means you rationalise things more – “if you do that, you’re setting yourself up to fail…” I definitely think: have bravado and do something. Just having that extra bit of guts is gonna probably push you over to the “can.”

Do you have motto for this?

Babes never die is always my motto. It’s never gonna change, even though the album’s done. Know your self-worth because they will try to tell you what you’re worth again, and again, and again.

You can pre-order "In Plain Sight" now, out on the 24th May.

Catch Honeyblood on the 28th May in Nottingham's Rough Trade, tickets available at honeyblood.com & listen to her music on popular streaming sites (or show support by purchasing physical copies, people!).