Black Honey’s Izzy B. Phillips talks feminism, pop culture, and lockdown gardening ahead of new album release

New Black Honey album ‘Written & Directed’ announced

Brighton indie rock four piece Black Honey has announced that its new album will drop in January.

The follow up to the band’s 2018 self-titled debut, ‘Written & Directed’ is a 10 track mission statement aiming to inspire female listeners. 

Frontwoman and self-described “leader in a team of dudes” Izzy B. Phillips has said that she “made this record for young women to feel invincible”. 

“I think that I would be insane if this wasn’t a feminist record”, Izzy tells me over the phone. “I think everything I’ve always done has been inherently feminist. My very existence is like a feminist life.”

‘Written & Directed’ is, she says, “more literally feminist” than the band’s first album, pointing to a yet-to-be-released track entitled ‘Fire’. 

With empowering lyrics like ‘we are all diamonds shining in dirt, I know exactly what I deserve, we are fire, I won’t apologise’, the song also references key feminist topics such as the pay gap, child brides, and FGM. 

“The whole of that song is about empowering women, but at the same time there’s a real sadness to it”, Izzy explains. “There’s kind of like some heavy feminist narratives in there. That song is cool because it’s more on the nose about my views as a woman.”

‘Run For Cover’, the second track to be released ahead of the album after upbeat summer indie song ‘Beaches’, was co-written with Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr. 

The two have worked as a team before, and Izzy says that the experience writing this new track together “was awesome”: “We actually wrote that song for Royal Blood, so the first version was with his voice on it.”

After realising that the song didn’t fit with the feel of the new Royal Blood record, the duo decided that Black Honey should take the track. 

Izzy continues: “I’m really happy with how it came out – we thought about changing the lyrics to switch it in to my perspective but then we decided that it was even more interesting to keep the man’s perspective. That felt really empowering.

“It’s really interesting to look at the idea that ‘Run For Cover’ is actually feminist because it’s an egotistical rock song – a ‘cock rock’ song but written from the female gaze.”

‘I Like The Way You Die’, the third single and track one on ‘Written & Directed’, dropped just before Halloween. 

“This one is so sick for girls,” says Izzy. “The lyrics are “I like the way you die boy, don’t you want to be my toy. I’ll use you once, then I’ll destroy, I like the way you die boy’. Women have been depicted victims of violence for all time. I wanted it to be like flipping the switch on that stuff.”

The video features a cult of vampires plotting in a mansion, and is directed by artist and photographer Frances O’Sullivan, who goes by BeautySpock on Instagram.

“The whole thing is just so beautiful and aesthetic, and all of the women in it are so powerful. 

“Frances and I have the same point of reference. 

“We’re both referencing Martin Parr, David Lynch, classic film noir. We both love retro cinema vibes, you know?”

Black Honey’s style is famously influenced by cinema, particularly the work of director Quentin Tarantino – the title of ‘I Like The Way You Die’ is a line from his 2012 film Django Unchained.

These referential nods to a rich history of pop culture and all types of rock’n’roll heroes are apparent in every song and video.

The video for ‘Beaches’, the first track to be released from ‘Written & Directed’, features Tiger King, Dolly Parton, and Elvis costumes. Viewers will also spot a prop copy of the fictional collection of plays written by the character of Margot in Wes Anderson’s 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums.

Produced at home in lockdown using TikTok and Instagram filters, the video’s opening card ‘A Quarantine Production’ is another nod to Tarantino.

Visual art and cinematography cuts through everything Black Honey does, creating a hyper-visual world with allusions to everything from kitschy pulp films and grindhouse cinema to documentary photography and Beat poetry.

Izzy says: “It’s those classic aesthetic directors like Tarantino, Wes Anderson, David Lynch. Photographers like Martin Parr – Alex Prager is a huge one for me. Other sides of pop culture that I really enjoy are like Andy Warhol, 70s New York Factory vibes, that’s always been a huge one for me. 

“The whole of New York Beat poetry is what inspires me lyrically. I’m obsessed with Allen Ginsberg.”

Izzy says she has been reading lots during the pandemic months, which came just after the intense touring schedule following the release of Black Honey’s first album. 

She says: “To be honest with you, I feel really lucky because I think we just got to the point where touring became insane – and we only just got to that point where it was so crazy, and then lockdown happened. And I was like, ‘oh my god, I needed this’.” 

She tells me she’s been spending lockdown getting to grips with her green fingers: “I had no idea how much I needed a break from everything. I just did gardening, like loads. Dug holes, planted flowers, thought about stuff, listened to books, podcasts, radio shows – I feel like that’s stuff I’ve never had time to do because touring is so crazy busy.”

Ardent fans have been gagging for new music – the band’s recent Record Store Day release sold out in less than five minutes – but has it been hard knowing that live music isn’t close on the horizon? 

“There will be no time in my life that I’m off touring ever again,” she answers. “When touring comes back – which it will – I’m going to enjoy it, and I always did enjoy it.

“Right now I’m living for now.”

‘Written & Directed’ will be out January 29, 2021 on Foxfive Records.

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