Pale Honey champion minimalistic rock and nunnery gone bad in their debut self-titled album and music video “Over Your Head”.
Swedish and self-taught, Tuva Lodmark and Nelly Daltrey have just recently released their debut album and in turn received a round of well-deserved applause from the likes of KCRW and Stereogum. They’ve caught our eye with the video for “Over Your Head”. Slow-mo shots of two nuns playing golf in front of some beautiful landscapes aren’t the only pull-factors here. They seem to base themselves on a pedestal of spontaneity and dynamism, defying all expectations even to the end – the car in the music video is for sale. Any takers?
Constantly growing and developing themselves as musicians, Tuva and Nelly have mastered minimalistic rock. They speak of topics that are close to the everyday person, describing their album as something close to the state-of-mind. And that spontaneity we spoke of – their songs play with the delicate and polite spectrum of songs to then burst into a concoction of mutilation and eccentricity. Pale Honey were wise when picking their name – sweet, delicate, but maybe along the way they’ll surprise us.
Can you tell us a bit about how you two work as a dynamic – the process and the tasks you undertake to make music?
We’re very relaxed with each other and never shy to show the other one a new guitar riff or song melody, even if you’re thinking “oh, this riff might sound dreadful”. We both trust each other’s opinions about how things should sound, and that makes us cooperate really well. When we’re jamming out in our rehearsal room, it can be Nelly hitting the drums in a playful beat and Tuva hooking up with a guitar riff, or the other way around, that makes the first foundation for a new song. It feels great being able to toss ideas in every direction and we are very picky so what comes out in the end are the things that we’ve fallen in love with, neck-deep in fondness. It’s really about tossing it all into one giant pot and figure out together what goes into the frying pan and what gets tossed away while having each other as sounding boards and just brainstorming and trying out things.
What has it been like touring Europe?
It has been truly amazing, although the vegetarian pizzas where a bummer in all the places. Who eats pizza with sweet corn, peas and carrots? We did. But we made it up by finding the best food trucks in Budapest and a great italian little shack in Croatia. This time we also traveled in a van instead of a small family car with full backline (as the first time we went on tour) so we didn’t have to use our yoga-skills as much and sit with our knees in our faces. It’s fun to get the chance to do so much in such a small time, of course we sat in the car most of the time but we had a blast meeting new people and other musicians. We also took a few days off in the middle of the tour-dates where we just explored the cities we were in as tourists, so it was work (fun work) mixed with pleasantry.
So in your video for “Over Your Head” the credits explain how the car is currently for sale! Has anyone registered their interest?
It indeed is! We’re not the lucky car owners ourselves, so we don’t now, but we did get to borrow the car for our video shoot so we figured that the least thing we could do was to help it find a new home. It has the sweetest engine-sound we’ve ever heard.
How would you describe this song [Over Your Head] to someone who’s never heard it before? What kind of sounds and vibes have you incorporated?
The song is swaying a bit more towards pop, and we wanted a melancholic feel to it with the tempo and the calm lyrics. We’ve got orchestral bells ringing in the background like a bubbling curtain in the background for the unsettled heart and dry guitar and drum sounds. The ending of the song brings it all up a bit with short, marked piano plays (we had to lay down on the piano to muffle the sound) and also the bass drum finding some courage to come forth, leaving the ending feeling like a new won strength and then just silence. We really wanted to keep the song swaying on the edge between being a sad or a happy song, leaving it to just being a trusty companion for whenever you need it.
And where did the nuns with guns idea come from?
We wanted something strange with a hint of darkness while keeping it easy, and after discussing ideas and scenes with Jonas Bang, who directed it, we twisted it even more and Jonas went to buy nun costumes. The video itself is pretty much about that it’s the feeling of being restricted that makes some things more fun as they’re prohibited, the chorus part of the text being the lead inspiration to it. “No one believes me now, but I love the way you put me in the jailhouse”.
Why have you called yourself ‘Pale Honey’? Is there some sort of inspiration behind this?
Well, we thought about this one for a long time and it just felt right. We we’re both sure that we wanted the word ‘honey’ in the name somehow, and then it was just the question of completing it. We had a few options in the end to pick from but the end result was the only thing that felt right.
What themes do you like exploring the most in your music?
Strength, empowerment, gloom and weariness in all its forms. We like to work with themes for songs as one of the starting-points and whether it is the tempo, notes, some howling or a sentence or simply just the mood we’re in that decides the theme it is nice to have something to work on and build up. It is also a lot of fun to make some twists in the songs and create contrasts with both lyrics and instruments but we always want to keep a bit of playfulness and simplicity in the songs.
How did you two meet and realise that you would be perfect partners in Pale Honey? What drew you to each other?
We met in highschool when we were thirteen years old. We didn’t really speak to each other even though it was a very small school where everyone knew each other since we were both pretty shy. Funny thing is that we both had made up this strange built-up perception of each other which of course wasn’t true at all. We started playing music together in school and we ended up escaping from our classes to hide out in the music room. It turned out that we were very similar and we were fascinated by each others ideas and personality. After one summer where we would be together all the time it was all pretty clear.
Making music has always been a thing we’ve done together from the start, and it’s probably the factor for us becoming so close to each other as well. Neither of us played any instruments before bringing out our guitar and drums, Tuva had some piano background and Nelly had tried out playing the violin and rocking out on the drum settings of an old keyboard but it was probably the fact that we couldn’t play our instruments that made it so much fun. There were no wrongs or even someone who corrected us when we were playing and we were so fascinated by ourselves that we could make sounds from the cheap guitar and drums. We had found our thing.
After playing some sweet teenage-punk rock songs we made we finally figured it out: heck – we should start a band and just go for it. And so we kind of reinvented ourselves and took on the Pale Honey band name as a fresh start to one hell of an adventure.
What’s the backstory to ‘Youth’ where you speak of getting around feeling ‘fine when you’re not mine’?
Good question! We had just gotten our very first rehearsal room for ourselves and where we locked ourselves up for the summer. Both of us were just in a great, rowdy mood because we finally had some place to be and boom! the playful song was made. It all felt a bit like being new-born or just that the feel good vibe manifested itself with everything going on for us as a band and personally so the lyrics felt like a good way to empower and strengthen this feeling.
There are a lot of folks who want to know who the lyrics for our songs are about, but sometimes it is a bit more about a feeling or scenario than a specific person. The lyrics for “Youth” was about moving on, not letting things drag you down and hold you back and most importantly being able to admire oneself for how far you’ve come. You’re awesome!
What artists inspire you and act as a springboard for your ideas?
We listen so a lot of different music, watch movies and read books that can really set us off in a wonderful work mode where you’re just focused on creating and doing. One of the main inspirations is taking part of other peoples creations, awakening the feeling that tingles in the back of your mind saying ‘let’s do something!”. We get so damn restless and disheartened when we haven’t been doing anything involving the band and music for a while, and what better way than to actually just jump into the fray and get things done – not because the result has to be good but because you just have to create things.
Listening to badly recorded stuff room can really push this further sometimes, there’s a lot of great music out there but a lot of the good stuff has been polished and fixed until what seems to be perfection. It’s very enjoyable, but it’s also hiding the huge amount of work that has been put into it. We love listening to fun bands like Eagles of Death Metal and Gorillaz since a lot of it gives the impression of the artists behind it are simply having fun and that is what this is all about in the end.
Their EP is out now on Spotify.
Words: Marianna Mukhametzyanova