Honey Gentry lives up to her name. The melancholic pop singer creates tunes that will make you feel like you're paging through an antique scrapbook, filled to the brim with memories of stranger that somehow feel familiar to you. Her debut album, H.G., is a triumph-- it's wildly intimate but possesses a sparkling universality, a keepsake from a bygone era varnished with a modern luster.
Her visual sensibilities compliment her discography beautifully. A mix of Edwardian grace, old Hollywood glamor, and 60s flower child freedom, Honey's fashion sense, much like her music, effortlessly blends the past with the present. The video collages she makes to accompany her songs are a mishmash of films that share similar themes of loss, love, and growing pains, and home movies that contain secrets known only to their creators. Her EP and album covers are hazy portraits of Honey herself that have a beguiling mystery. Her website's girlish flourishes call to mind vintage Valentine's cards and heart-shaped confectionary traded nervously between classes. Her whole Instagram reads a bit like the bedroom walls of a 1950s teenager-- a private sanctuary plastered with icons of yesteryear and memorabilia of personal significance, where the fleeting nature of youth is palpable, hanging heavy in the air.
But Honey is not a clueless teenager, or a vapid beauty queen, or a damsel in distress. Her music simultaneously subverts and celebrates these archetypes, never taking a reductive approach. She embodies the complexities of being a woman, of being an artist, of being alive today.
My obsession with her music was fostered over the past year, as we were locked inside and forced to self-reflect. Her ability to be so raw and honest, and weave together personal narratives with cultural critiques, inspired my own epiphanies. Although Honey's work often has somber undertones, it is not defeatist. On the contrary, in fact, her music describes the necessity of hope amidst turmoil, another sentiment that hits particularly close to home in this cultural moment, but will no doubt be relevant for years to come as well.
Who are your inspirations and what lessons have they taught you?
Musically I have so many, from Gwen to Marina to Lana to Gaga, all of whom have taught me to trust my own instincts as best as possible, listen to your internal voice... they won’t steer you wrong in the long run.
What work are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my album H.G. - it was my debut, and the first time I had produced an entire project from start to finish. That or Aphrodite, a standalone single from 2019, which has connected me with so many sweet people who seem to resonate it. It’s a bit of a strange song so I love that so many people have discovered and connected with it.
What’s been the most transformative experience of your life?
In hindsight there have been so many. Probably the common thread of them all would be trying (trying!) to become someone who can always find at least one positive in the negative, someone prioritising integrity, acting with as best intention as possible.
I love your general aesthetic, and I was wondering if you could describe the connection between your music and your personal style?
Thank you! I would say that my personal style in terms of clothing and makeup is pretty much comfort. I love vintage summer dresses and playsuits above all else but sadly we have few opportunities to really enjoy that style here in London outside the rare sunny day. I like to stick to a colour palette that I enjoy, pastel colours, cream, white, denim, and a pair of Vans with a little suede backpack and I’m pretty much good to go! Much like my music - and probably where the two connect - is that the most important thing for me is feeling like myself and that I’m not wearing a costume or trying to be someone I’m not.
How do you put together the video collages on your YouTube channel?
I have been collecting my own little library of archive footage since about 2014 when I was at film school and started using it on a project for my degree. I try and just find the pieces that tell the same story of the song or elaborate on its message a little bit. Home movies are very special, there is something very human and humbling about watching video from 50 or more years ago, that someone thought important enough to capture. And given my own songs are quite diaristic that seems appropriate in a way. There’s also the fact that I could never go back in time or to another place in the world and capture this footage, so it’s amazing that the Internet allows us to find and incorporate these things into our work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Being soft is not weakness.
Start where you are.
A fringe does not make you look like Zooey Deschanel - it does not suit you.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a musician?
I always had a love of music - there was always music in our house and I was lucky enough to be one of the Spice Girls kids, so it never really felt like music was out of reach for girls. I had loads of amazing female artists that I admired growing up, and I was probably about 7 or 8 when I started thinking about it. As a teenager I was really drawn to artists that prided themselves on being outsiders - from My Chemical Romance to Gwen Stefani to Lady Gaga. So music became something an expression of identity and community. Even though I started off trying to pursue screenwriting and documentary film, once I left school, I realised that music was my true love, the way I felt most creative, and I set about trying to pursue it with more ambition than I had previously.
What’s something that instantly brings you back to your childhood?
Movies that I loved as a kid. For my childhood that would be something like Matilda or a great 90s Disney movie with an amazing soundtrack like Mulan or the Lion King. For my teenage years it would be the Virgin Suicides, or Donnie Darko, or Girl Interrupted. I don’t mind that I have kind of cliche movie taste… it reconnects me with my inner teenager.
How do you think your work will change in the future?
Just following the vision… hopefully continuing to build my confidence as an artist and producer with every step!