Q&A: HoneyHoney

Q&A: HoneyHoney
Courtesy of Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography HoneyHoney rocks the Wakarusa Revival Tent Friday night with their alternative folk music. The band consists of Suzanne Santo (center, banjo) and Ben Jaffe (left, guitar).

Courtesy of Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography
HoneyHoney rocks the Wakarusa Revival Tent Friday night with their alternative folk music. The band consists of Suzanne Santo (center, banjo) and Ben Jaffe (left, guitar).

HoneyHoney is Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe. Despite the sweet name, there’s a subtly dark attitude to the alternative folk group with the songwriting of country woven with rock’s edge.

Their music dances the line between pop, country, rock and indie folk. If you’re looking for an artist on the up and up, check these guys out. It’s clear these guys have potential to be a big deal in the coming year with their catchy singles “Big Man” and “You and I.” Most importantly, their music has soul and feel.

When stripped down, the band features the beautiful, slightly raspy vocals of Suzanne Santo and her banjo while Ben Jaffe is a force at the guitar when he needs to be, and his backup vocals provide a nice harmony. At Wakarusa, they were the full set up with rock n’ roll drums amping their sound up.

Late Friday afternoon, I got the chance to sit down with Jaffe and Santo, and they were just darling. I’d have thought they’d be a little mysterious judging from their music, but they couldn’t have been sweeter or more charming during the interview.

We discussed the current music they’re into and their new album that came out Tuesday, “3.”:

TFW: So, how did HONEYHONEY come into fruition?

Jaffe: A mutual friend introduced us. We’d see each other out socially. Eventually we hung out and started writing songs. I loved Santo’s voice so goddamn much and we started writing good songs and it really kind of opened up for us. To be honest, we didn’t put a lot of energy into making a career out of the band. It was just something that was fostered by a lot of really kind people.

Santo: Well said!

Jaffe: Yeah, I’m in the fucking zone, man.

TFW: You guys were originally separately from the northeast. What brought you to LA?

Santo: I followed a man to LA from New York City. Actually, it’s kind of interesting, I was an actor before. and it was working out pretty well. When I moved to LA I got really sad and started writing these really sad songs and honestly it was just a hobby and something that made me feel better. My roommate had two very important friends. One introduced me to Jaffe, his name is Todd, and this woman who was a club booker for open mic nights. She was like “just play one!” So I did.

Playing my first show was kind of a seminal moment for me. I was like “Oh shit, this is awesome! I really like doing this.” LA was an interesting transition, but I just love it so much now.

TFW: I’d imagine LA has a lot of great singer-songwriters and bands, and it’s tough to climb the ranks. How did you guys break out?

Jaffe: Oh yeah, definitely, but I think it’s an industry town. People are going there to showcase their music rather than going to clubs because they need someone to play Thursday night. You’re right, it’s absolutely saturated, but it’s a community of like-minded people. We never really got involved in a scene. We’ve always been on the fringes of those scenes long enough to establish our own thing which has become a national and slightly international thing.

Santo: We opened up for Jake Bug and we toured the UK and Europe. That was crazy, it was like speed tourism. Like we had an hour to make it to the Eiffel Tower to get a photo and then we had to make it back before sound check. It was pretty cool to see the world at warp speed. We had a couple days off where we could witness incredible towns that are like centuries old. The first night we stayed in England, we stayed in a hotel that was older than the United States. That shit is crazy.

TFW: But that’s really cool, getting to see the world while bringing your passion to new audiences. Now that you’ve got Europe crossed off the bucket list, I see you guys are living out the next one I’m sure— Wakarusa.

Santo: It’s really nice here. I love it. I mean, look, Ben’s got his belly button out.

Jaffe: We’re at a music festival. You’re lucky I still have my pants on.

TFW: When you guys are out on the road, who do you listen to in the van?

Santo: We go through a lot of weird fucking phases in a really fun way. We will literally go from Tenacious D to a 90s rock phase, like Creed, for fun. We’ll catch our drummer singing it and we sing it with feeling and we put the windows down —because you gotta own it. But I mean we listen to Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar…I’ve been listening to St. Vincent.

Jaffe: I’ve been getting more and more into Cuban music. There’s a great band from the 60s called Los Zafiros that were like a doo-wop group. They used really beautiful, thick jazz harmonies over these doo-wop songs. I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music. I’m slowly getting into Aphex Twin. The thing is with electronic music is there’s some great shit, and there’s awful shit. Just like everything else.

TFW: Your new record, “3,” comes out Tuesday. Tell me all about it.

Santo: We were just talking about how it feels like we’re graduating from college with this album. It basically took us four years to make it and we failed a couple times. We flunked out. But we got back on it, got some tutoring. We did the record with a producer named Dave Cobb. He was like that third member of the band we were looking for to really push us in a way that we were all making the record together. Sometimes we need to be wrangled. He’s a brilliant trustworthy artist. He works really fast, and we just went in there and a couple weeks the record was done.

Jaffe: When I think about this stuff, I realize we love these songs. It’s taken us so long to do this record. Some of these songs have been around for seven years. In talking about this stuff, you know it makes me realize we stand behind this music, and we give a shit about our songs.

TFW: What is the band’s mindset or philosophy to the songs on “3”?

Santo: A lot of the songs are about our lives, our family and the people we care about. I guess our recording mindset was just lay down your guard and make some music. There were so many great people involved in this record and there really wasn’t an ego in the room. We all cared about each other and listened to each other, and everything we had to say was important. That’s the best way to make music. It isn’t my song or his song or their song, it’s ours.

Categories: Galleries