Who would've thought that in 2016 you'd need more than for songs to just grab people's attention? Maybe some would, but the degree of expectation we have on musicians nowadays, the aspect of always wanting 'more' again and again - it can be quite jarring. Especially for the musicians themselves, who now shoulder the pressure of having to deliver constantly.

It's that landscape that makes London duo HONNE a breath of fresh air. It's not that they're oblivious to the world around them, it's more that they shrug their shoulders and simply aim to please themselves. The fact they're able to do this while also crafting ear-worm inducing bangers is damn near startling, and the effortlessness they convey while doing so is also admirable.

HONNE is comprised of Andrew Peter Clutterbuck and James William Hatcher, two friends from Bow who draw inspiration from the vast soundscapes the world provides. I sat with them recently on a particularly early New York morning, and even though the three of us were just waking up, we found ourselves electrified by the conversation of music, what it means to us, and how HONNE came to be. The sky's the limit for these guys, and it'll be great to see them win over the world they're so inspired by.

When people create new projects, they tend to find themselves thinking about how to build it, over and over again. What do you think it was that made the experience of creating HONNE different from previous projects you've been a part of?

James: It was the first time where we didn't rush into something. We spent about a year just experimenting with different production ideas, and trying to find a palette of sounds that we felt really worked well together.

Andy: We really took our time with it, just to make sure we knew we were onto something special, something different. Those elements of devoting time to a project were crucial to us, in comparison to what we've done before; probably also in comparison to what other people were doing as well.

James: We wanted it to be like we could use those sounds and Andy's voice, and then record any song, even if it was a cover. We wanted to create a sound and a mood we could delve into that'd make you go 'Ah, that's HONNE!'

Do you feel that that's been achieved? Because from where I am, just as a listener, it does feel like you guys have achieved a signature sound, a signature vibe. Was the time you guys took conducive to that?

Andy: Before we showed anyone anything at all, we had ten or fifteen songs written. In the past, we would always get excited by projects and our enthusiasm would get ahead of what we'd actually make, so with this instance it was nice to be able to have something to present and share. There wasn't any freak-out with this album to try to follow up on anything, because we had everything.

James: Exactly. So many people will write a great song and then get all excited and put it out, then there'll be hype that ends up dying out because they had nothing to follow it up one; so we very much didn't want that to happen to us. When we first came out, we weren't thinking 'let's put out our best song' it was more 'let's put out this song, and then that song, and then this song'. We knew the first three songs we wanted to put out, before we even put them out, and the idea was to have a narrative that was supported by the tracks rather than the tracks overshadowing one another.

When you release a song onto the world, and see the reception of how people respond, do you feel that experience can either change or inform how you proceed to write songs after the fact? That seeing what people gravitate towards can influence the approach after the fact?

Andy: I do think that tends to be the case a bit, definitely. The problem with that is you don't want to get into the trap of releasing similar music again and again. I think it's much more important to be constantly experimenting, and changing it up, and writing loads of different songs. Obviously within the same style, but also to change up the moods and tempos. It makes it interesting for us, as well as listeners, and on an album, it helps to create a world.

James: Yeah, you really don't want to get into that trap, especially because it can be the wrong thing you're assuming people are gravitating towards. It might be a lyric, where you'll think it's the tempo, or it could be the tempo but you thought it was the singer, and you never can really know fully, so it's a much better route to push yourself into different directions. And I think it's always scary when you put out a couple of tracks that are chilled out, and then you put out this really upbeat song, it's really scary. We experienced that a bit, and we didn't expect to be nervous about it, but getting to see the reaction after the fact was great. People took to the track as a track, and didn't see it as a 'whoa, what is this?' type of thing, so that was very nice.

What I caught right away from your music was that even though the elements of soul are indeed at the forefront, there's also this big understanding towards pop. It came across that you understood pop, and also had a love for it; a respectful approach. It seems like the last thing you guys ever wanted to do was to exist in one box, would it be fair to say that?

James: Definitely. We wanted to write what we imagined would be cool (to us), but with a soul approach to it. We wanted to write music that was accessible, music that people on a widespread could enjoy.

Andy: It's an aspect of songwriting we're really into, accessibility, but not because of charts but because of the craft. We wanted to make songs where you could take all the elements away from the song, the keys and the drums, and all that and still have a basic skeleton of a song, the basic structure. We wanted to have songs where James could sit on a piano and I could sing, and it'd be just simple songs that you could get right away.

Going deeper into the project, when you were recording these songs, were you also thinking about how you'd approach them live, or did that come much later?

Andy: We did, right at the beginning.

James: Going back to what we said earlier, about taking a year just to make everything... we had so much time. We quite thought about everything and at the time, our minds were like 'Ok, we have to think about this, this, and this'. It's interesting, we had enough songs to put onto an album, and ended up not using a good portion of those songs. But yeah, that aspect of taking a year to craft anything... as crucial as that was, a year is a long time. We talked about everything from live to artwork.

Andy: I still remember actually, the first time we sat down and said 'Ok, what is HONNE?' within the context of a live show. Right away, we knew we wanted it to be something with big production, and a band, and just make it different from what we had on the record. So when it finally came to playing it live, it really came alive for us.

James: And we were also very conscious of what we didn't want, meaning, we knew we never wanted it to be just me and Andy with a laptop and a keyboard, and then trying to do everything ourselves. It works for some people, but we felt that we wouldn't be able to convey a true soul performance doing it with just the two of us.

Andy: We tried it as well, to see how it'd be. We did it in our rehearsal studio, James and I, and yeah it... it was fine, and we've done some small-stripped back shows like that, and it's good, but yeah it lacks a bit of...

James: Umpf?

Andy: Yeah that, umpf.

James: But yeah, it works at times, but when you're in a big room with those big speakers and that, you want it to really hit you then. Not that you're playing in a lounge.

That somewhat reminds me of acts like Massive Attack or Gorillaz, who have these tracks that definitely have a studio vibe to them, but then come alive in a monstrous way with a live band. And in a contemporary setting, there are also acts like Disclosure and Gorgon City, who also incorporate singers into their live shows so it's not just only the two main dudes. It must be a bit inspiring in a way, seeing the different ways you can go about playing live.

James: Yeah, and it's really fun to play with a band as well. Being able to do that has really made the songs feel more alive. I mean, that should go without saying, but getting to experience it has really excited us.

How has it been rehearsing with the band and seeing how they interpret the songs you've created?

Andy: We love them. We have two guys, a drummer and a bass player named Duayne and Amadu, and we also have a singer named Naomi, who's fantastic.

James: Come to think of it, the people we have now, are the same people we had when we first started playing, so we've had the chance to bond quite a bit because of that.

'Someone That Loves' you feels like a HONNE track but does a grand job of showcasing what makes Izzy Bizu special. It must've been quite a thing, having to have this track in your pocket for a bit, because it is so good and to me, it truly speaks to what HONNE is all about. How did that track come together?

James: We were really excited to get it out. Can I say that I love it a lot, even though it's our own track? Aw, fuck it, I love it! [Laughs]. It's a track I do very much love and am proud of, and yeah man, we're really happy to have it out. I think it'll be... not a turning point, but I think it'll be the track that brings us to a wider audience, so fingers crossed.

To be honest, it feels like it's the most pop song you guys have out (so far). Going further into this, do you feel that the experience of making this song has opened you up to the idea of doing more collaborations with people in the future?

James: It was always something we wanted to try to do more of, to be honest. We had a track out a while back with a girl named Jones, called no 'Place Like Home', and it was a lot of fun to do that. And on 'Costal Love', we had a girl from New York who did some backing vocals for us; Tamsin Wilson of Wilsen.

Andy: She's British, but she plays a lot here in New York.

What's been very refreshing has been hearing these songs and feeling the influence of UK music, even in a subversive way. You guys are now living in Bow, home to the legendary Dizziee Rascal, so I imagine loving music came quite easy being in a place like that.

Andy: Totally. We moved to Bow about five or six years ago.

James: He (Dizzee) went to school down the end of my road basically. Bow Boys, I think it's called.

Andy: I think Wiley did as well.

James: And Ashley Cole, yeah?

Has it been surprising to you, seeing the reaction and understanding of what a place like that means to people? I mean, I'm sure you guys don't want to be pigeonholed by constantly being associated with a place, but that does seem to be quite a conversation.

James: Yeah, definitely! So we grew up in the South West of England, and then moved to London some years ago. But in some of our songs we talk about growing in the countryside, and stuff like that, but I can definitely say that living in a city, especially a city such as London, has been vastly influential towards how we approach music.

Andy: And specifically with our music as well, as HONNE, it is music that does feel very 'night time' very city-esque, and being in a place such as London with the nightlife it has, and the vibrancy it has, it's probably played quite a part in it for sure.

London does have those qualities to it, especially how inspiration can seep into your subconscious. You can find yourself inspired by being on the tube or just walking off a beaten path really.

James: Yeah, it's a place where inspiration comes to you when you're not even thinking about it; when you're not even trying to have it happen.

I know you guys bonded over your love for Japanese culture, and that lead me to wonder; have you guys had a chance to visit Japan yet, and if so, how was it?

Andy: I've been in the past. James hasn't been there yet though.

James: I really want to go.

Andy: I've been there a couple of times for work, have you gone?

I have, twice. In 2010 and 2012, and it's such a.... none of the photos and videos can prepare you for it, really. It's such a weird place that doesn't even feel like you're on earth anymore. It's beyond undescribable.

Andy: Yeah, it's incredible. And I especially loved the people. It's a place where you can find yourself having great experiences easily, at least easier than most other places I've been to. I think we might be going there later this year, hopefully in the autumn time.

James: Yeah. We might be going there for some shows, as well as South Korea. Oddly enough, I think we have the most listeners in the world in Seoul, so going there is going to be massive really. I don't know what to expect at all, but that leaves me more excited than anything else.