May 3, 2014

James P Honey

FRKSE and James P Honey
FRKSE and James P Honey
James P Honey and FRKSE have a new collaboration coming to I had An Accident on May 13th. Prior to leaving for a tour with Buriers in support of Micah P Hinson, I was able to sit down and have a twitter interview with James P Honey about his life, art, and music. This new collaboration, VAllEY, sees the relationship with FRKSE and James P Honey grow and evolve into a beautiful organic album.

Explain who James P Honey is… What have you done, what are you doing now?

James P Honey is a word collage weaver. I started out writing for the sake of writing then felt the urge to let it leak from my pages. Speaking it, singing it, howling it and chewing it seemed to me to be the most attractive and aggravating outlet for me and my words.

When did you start singing?

Tough question. I guess i always sort of sang even back when i was chewing. If i look back at early recordings of mine i can clearly see a logical progression towards me actually outright singing. I also think that it has taken me a long time to feel truly comfortable with what I am actually portraying through my words. It is a naked experience when singing a line. it has to be good… all meat no fluff. You can afford to throw in the occasional bit of ‘glue’ when chatting on a beat. It can be veiled by a lot of things; singing less so. Especially on minimal instrumentation. This is important to me at the moment. Strip it back… keep it empty. Less is more.

Your voice is so unique and the words you speak are beautiful- both add so much depth to what you do, has this been a studied art or a natural process for you?

A natural process as far as anything really can be. I certainly have never trained or twisted my voice in any way that it hasn’t easily bent. However, I will say that reading and the works and wordplay of other people has been a sort of schooling for me. Books and books and books. The way words sit beside each other. Trash pulp fiction and zines and i particularly love looking at the pretentious dross on gallery handouts. These along with ghastly cheap and poorly written newspapers are a massive source of inspiration for me.

Who are some of your influences?

Henry Miller, J G Ballard, Leonard Cohen, Jason Molina, Lautreamont, Adrian Orange, Babel Fishh, William S Burroughs. The list is long and forever changing shape but the names above have always been and will always be a constant.

I should also say that discovering Sole (Tim Holland) was a big thing for me. i realized then that i was not alone in just wanting to say what i wanted to say over a beat and delivering it how i wished. It was important for me as an 18 year old or whatever to see the imagined framework splinter like that.

Raj in the countryside, site of recording VAllEY
Raj in the countryside, site of recording VAllEY

VAllEY is a collaboration with FRKSE that was written in the countryside… How did this idea develop?

Ever since I found out about FRKSE I have loved his noise. It is hard for anybody in any artform to find a signature sound and wow has FRKSE achieved this. Anyhow, we sort of got to know each other through the likes of Dug Yuck, Fishh etc and it seems he appreciated what I do as much as I appreciated his stuff. Deciding to do a project together was easy but what were we going to do? Originally the idea was him dropping grisly stomping beats and me just eating my way through them. Real nasty… real chew, but when we got together in the same room and started messing a different sound came out. A surprise in truth. Sure, we banged out a couple of what anyone would expect honey and FRKSE to make but it seemed shallow in comparison to taking a chisel to the unknown. I am so so glad that we did. It was recorded in the country because that is where we went. It is my lady’s grandmothers cottage. A good place. An honest place.

When I think of two of my most favorite releases I always include Filth and the EP we did with FRKSE a few years back.

Nice. Yeh, FRKSE honestly is way way one of the best. Way way out there. His bandcamp is just hilarious. Everything on it is huge.

I feel the approach you two put towards your music is very honest and deliberate.

Totally. Make what you want and what you trust to be good. If there is any doubt in my mind at any stage then I just burn it and turn my attention elsewhere. Perhaps the only true art form (other than marketing.. hehe) is self scrutiny. You need this. Be critical. Be hyper critical at every stage. If you are not honest then those around you will smell it.

VAllEY has a very stripped down sound to it, something you would expect to hear whisper across the tall grass as you walk across the plain. An unexpected sound compared to some of your other work, however I cannot imagine anything different coming from the two of you. Was the writing process a improvisation or was it a planned session?

We wrote it all there and then. Initially we had a very different idea of what we were going to do. It changed really quickly after making one or two ‘ordinary’ chewing/weird rap tracks. We did not expect to make the songs we have done, but this is the honesty factor. Just scrap any plans at the drop of a hat if the wind feels warmer elsewhere. Be true to yourself. Have fun.

The house / studio
The house / studio

The instrumentation reminds me a little of Frkse’s Scholar Drugs album. What was used in making the music?

It was FRKSE on his mpc, me on the mic and guitar. Compression pedal, cubase, soundcard and condenser mic – real ropey DIY set up. Exactly how I like it! On the first day we got down to the country (it is in the middle of nowhere) my monitors literally set on fire. I am not joking. The room was full of smoke. So we had to work with a pair of super super budget computer speakers. Funny times.

I was wondering if you added some guitar to it! Nice composition.

Oh yes. All the guitar is actually played live. One take. No edits. FRKSE added some bass lines with the axe too if I remember correctly. They were long days. Long and hazy days. Hard to remember all the details.

How does the recording process of VAllEY differ from your approach with Buriers?

Hmm… ostensibly the nature of it is the same but i am in the position to take more time with the Buriers songs. This is a good and a bad thing, but let’s focus on the good. Really a Buriers song can, and has been, written in twenty minutes sat on my bed in my boxer shorts with a guitar. The additions of Jamie on cello and Laura on violin come afterwards. Then Rami on drums. It is a pretty methodical process. Valley on the other hand was a more organic creativity spill. Now that i come to think about it… most all of my songs (whether rap or song) get written really quickly; no more than a day.

I admire albums that present amazing music combined with a physical representation. I mentioned to FRKSE the lavender color cassettes and ivory color fabric paper with bare art came together so beautiful. That lavender is a worn color that highlights this whole thing so well.

I am really chuffed with the way the whole thing has come together. I totally agree with you about the tangibility and aesthetic of a release. I am really looking forward to getting my hands on the cassettes. I have been eyeballing the postman at every opportunity.

FRKSE had me fray the edges of the j-cards… I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it reminds me of an old book with uneven cut pages. Your music takes on a literary sentiment. I think it’s the lyrics and how you sing them. Lines like “say a pray if you care too…” Totally ground me. The presentation of it captures me.

Yeh I can not express the importance of lyrics and the lyrical content of songs enough. Put simply – if the lyrics don’t rouse me then I am not going to listen.

As you say, it’s “honest” but I think it goes so much deeper than that.

I take this rather harsh judgment to my own work and hope with a true integrity that I am true to myself and my word. As to the depth of my words that is really hard for me to pass comment on. I am a sounding board. I collect phrases and whisperings.

The timeless most amazing piece of this album focuses around this honesty, it’s application to modern society can just as easily be transposed to the past- 100 years ago, or even to the future

I love words and the way people use and misuse them. Billboards fascinate me. Adverts really are amazingly good… the poetry behind the patchily veiled desperation and emptiness is just a beauty that I don’t see many other places.

Given your influences, Molina for example, lyrically he spoke with such sincerity one felt lost in his world if only for a moment

Yeh. Molina was brutal. One of the best. Ever. Forever. His death was a super shitty thing. It really actually caught me. I never met the man and cannot say that I knew him … but i kind of did maybe… a little bit. His death changed his songs too a little for me. He is not the jester of misery anymore. He was really sad and it is not an art anymore. It is life. It is death. It is us. A great writer.

His music dug deep inside us emotionally. I remember how “Just Be Simple” became a soundtrack to a heart breaking break up for me. I think that is was defines some of the great ones- how they latch on to our own emotions. I just want to carve “v and a and l, l-e-y” into my heart. Simply reading that quote means nothing without its presentation that loops in my mind over and over again.

Absolutely. Every great word-wizzard that has graced my life has in some way worded an exact emotion of mine. They have understood me.

The mood and emotion behind that cannot be captured between quotation marks.

For sure. this is actually an interesting thing for me. I knew I wanted to write and to be a writer of sorts but I also knew I wanted not for my ramblings to be read off the page. I needed to carry them through performance. That is how i ended up being here. That is how i should have answered your first question!

On that note we should stop, but since I have you hear I would like to satisfy my curiosity with a few more questions. Have you thought about writing a novel or release a book of writings?

My album Book of Marion was a book of prose long before it became a ‘chew’ album. the book is an insert in the vinyl sleeve.

I am also working on a new book now. but it is very early stages as yet. in a world spun with the ghouls of Hunter S Thompson and Bukowski and Plath it is difficult for me to stand tall against the winds of doubt when it comes to writing a book. When it comes to performing my words… for some reason I have the pig arrogance to believe that I can hold hands with the ones I respect.

About a week before you announced your tour – my girlfriend asked me if I knew who Micah P Hinson was. How does it feel to have an opportunity to tour with someone like that?

It feels great and is exactly where I want to be. He is a good songwriter and I am itching to get on the road with him. I am eager to perform and in particular to perform for an attentive audience. This tour should be a cracker.

I recently read Rousseau’s Confessions and decided I should write a “Confesssions” too… But when I sit down everything changes. I guess the important thing is to be yourself instead of trying to copy an emotion.

You need to be honest. You need to be true. You cannot hide. If you hide you are thinking too much and thinking doesn’t make good art it makes nice preliminary work but when it comes to creating…. stop thinking and be brave, humble and unemployed.

Speaking of employment – what do you do outside of the art life?

All sorts. I can paint your house, make you a coffee, fix your drainage pipe, work a market stall selling you cheese… art is all. Why be rich if you can just live rich instead?


My loved ones despair.

Ok last question: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Burn it. Mind melt.

Re-printed with permission from