“You're perfect the way you are and don't let any anyone tell you anything different!”
That’s Izzy B. Phillips, frontwoman of Brighton four-piece Black Honey, empowering women everywhere with a reminder that they never have any reasons to shrink themselves to fit the mould set in front of them by the world. With single-minded focus to give people the courage they deserve to have, in a career she describes as “fun and unforgettable,” Black Honey’s second album ‘Written & Directed’ is an ode to fierce, world-conquering women everywhere.
Speaking of the message behind the record, Izzy says: “’Written And Directed’ was based around the idea of cinema, and I wanted to be with a female gaze rather than a male gaze. I wanted to explore women, telling true stories that are from a diary-like point of view, but spun with a bit more of a cinema lens.”
In essence, the album is what Izzy aptly tags as the “square root of Black Honey,” with their signature heavy rock sound marrying into hyper-visual artistry woven by introspective lyricism.
Reflecting on the evolution of the band’s sound, she says: “We’ve always been a heavy rock band and the first time we did an album it was more pop, and we landed slightly shy of the mark. So with this record it was so important that we went back to things that we were super comfortable doing, which was rock music.”
Izzy adds: “The sound is true to who we are but at the same time it's cinematic.”
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Cinema is an unshakeable element of Izzy’s – and by extension Black Honey’s – musicality. Recalling how visuals became such an important part of identity as an artist, Izzy says: “During the early years of my career, my then-boyfriend would show me really incredible cult movies which up until that point I had no idea about. It was an ethereal discovery. I think there's a part of my brain that feels like it fused the visualisation of movies in with the creation of songs.”
If the magic of reel life influences her creativity, the grounding reality of the world around inspires Izzy’s song writing. Whether it be her passion for retro culture or the mundane conversations overheard on a train, she explains that she like taking something she has experienced, read, seen or heard and then recycling or repurposing it into a statement of feelings.”
For this album Izzy says the visuals she conjured up gave off “ferocious and fatal,” vibes inspired by her hope that it encourages women to find the courage to stand up for themselves and excel at everything they are more than capable in.
She says: “I paid homage to this visual on the back of the album, with a character extension of me but with a persona of ‘no fucks given’. We want people to listen to this record and stomp down the street. Women are told their whole lives to be smaller, to diminish their feelings. We wanted to make something that was about putting on your black leather boots and kicking down some doors.”
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Black Honey’s efforts to build an explosively empowering flip-reverse of female cinematic representation paid off with ‘Written & Directed’ finding a place on the charts.
Speaking of her reaction to this, Izzy says: “It felt amazing on one hand, but on the other hand it feels like we always look at success like this big celebration of hard work. Yes, getting a Top 10 is awesome, but it’s important to also acknowledge the amount of work that it took to get there... it’s not just for the charts, I’d still love this record just the same even if it got nothing in the chart.”
This love for making music extends naturally to live performances. With several dates around the UK announced for later this year, Izzy’s reaction after a year and half of no live shows is much the same as most people.
She exclaims: ”It feels a bit like a fairy tale – is it serious or are these imaginary dates on a calendar?”
Pausing, Izzy adds: “But I just can't wait, it’s going to be a whole different level of appreciating live shows. In these shows, you’re living in an exact moment and there’s nothing that can replace the feeling of being in a room with people who are connected with your music at such an intimate level. I just can't imagine how much deeper that bond is going to feel.”
With the idea of touring in mind, Izzy looks to the future and says of her bucket list: “I definitely want to tour America and do a full Motel Diner experience. Have my pancakes, take a film camera and learn photography is a long-standing dream of mine. I think I'd also love to tour Asia again.” But even more that she expresses the hope of “feeling as electric” as she felt making this record every single time she makes music going forward.
Never content to compromise or change themselves for anyone, Black Honey have gone beyond merely filling the female-shaped void in rock music; cultivating a cult-like fanbase, they continue to establish the impactful message that every single woman is a force to be reckoned with.
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'Written & Directed' is out now.
Words: Malvika Padin
Photo Credit: Laura Allard Fleischl
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