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Tuning In: HONNE is back on tour and ready to return all the love

In “Tuning In”, we delve into the lives and loves of the people behind the tracks you love — and the ones they love, as well. In this edition, we talk to James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck, the duo better known as HONNE.

HONNE has been waiting a long time for this moment. They know you have, too.

Okay, to be fair, in Hong Kong, we’re still waiting. But as others around the world begin to see their pandemic restrictions lifted, there’s a feeling of hope that things, for all of us, could start to resemble something a little closer to “normal” again soon. That we can see loved ones, catch up with friends; that we can dance, and sing, or, better yet, be sung to. Something HONNE has missed doing for us all very much over these past two years.

For the uninitiated, HONNE is the alternative pop duo of James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck, and they’ve just kicked off a grand tour of the UK, EU, North America and beyond — their first, like many others, since the pandemic brought the world to a standstill.

Both Hatcher and Clutterbuck have a lot of love for Hong Kong, recalling their 2019 show at Mong Kok’s Macpherson Stadium as a treasured memory: “It was such a special show for us, the venue was so grand and there was so much love in the room. We ate so many dumplings on that trip too, which was a big highlight. We need to come back ASAP.”

Covid put the brakes on touring acts all over the world, but it didn’t stop HONNE from bringing a little music and happiness to their fans in the Fragrant Harbour: In 2021, the duo teamed up with the techie baristas at Preface Coffee in Tin Hau for a limited-time collab around the release of their acoustic no song without you EP. Each song on the album was paired with a drink, with special HONNE artwork splashed on the cups and storefront.

Still, for musicians and fans alike, nothing can replace the feeling of a live show. And from Boston to Brisbane, the duo will be performing a new album and old favourites to singing-along, ready-to-dance crowds once again from now through September.

When things open up in Hong Kong — hopefully sooner than later — they look forward to planning their next show here, too.

Lifestyle Asia caught up with HONNE to talk tour rituals, musical inspirations and how they take their coffee these days.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Tuning In: HONNE

How have the challenges of the past two years inspired you creatively — or to even just get out and perform again?

The last few years have been challenging creatively, life was kind of put on pause for a while. But at the same time, it brought with its strong emotions of gratitude for our partners and family and friends who pulled together to help get through the hard times. And these feelings helped spark ideas for songs.

We wrote and released one mixtape and one album over the last two years and haven’t had a chance to see our fans’ reactions to these songs, we are so excited to get back out there and play them on stage, alongside all the old classics, too!

Are you doing anything differently on this tour than you did in the past?

As with every tour there will always be some big changes. Changing up the setlist is always the starting point. All new stage productions which are looking really fresh. And just generally speaking, the break from touring has given us a deep appreciation for how lucky we are to be able to tour, so we’re heading into these tours with a lot of energy, ready to put on bigger, better and more intimate shows than ever before.

Are there any specific plans or must-eats or must-sees in different cities? 

Always! We’ve been to a lot of cities multiple times now, so we definitely have favourite places that we like to revisit when we go back. But we recently started a HONNE Tour Google Maps. So when we go on tour, we ask our fans to go and plot their favourite spots for food and drinks, and their favourite parks, attractions, et cetera, on our map. We’ve only done our UK tour so far, but it’s been so useful and we can’t wait to discover more spots like these all over the world.

Do you have any pre- or post-show rituals?

We don’t actually have too many. Andy does lots of vocal warm ups. We both brush our teeth so we feel nice and fresh. I sometimes do a few press-ups to try and disperse some of the nervous energy! Then we have a little hug with the band and wish each other luck for the show just before going on stage.

After the show we’re all quite buzzing and talk about all our favourite bits of the show. But we also often have a little debrief about how we think the set could be improved next time, whilst it’s fresh in our minds. Sometimes we’ll have a little drink to celebrate, or take it easy and eat some food and relax.

What’s the first song you each ever learned by heart?

The first song I (Andy) ever learned by heart was “Blackbird” by The Beatles. In true teenager style, James’ was “Dammit” by Blink-182.

What are your personal most-played tracks on Spotify?

Andy: “Bonnie and Clyde” by Serge Gainsbourg

James: “Garden Song” by Phoebe Bridgers

What song, album or performance had a lasting impact on each of you, both personally and as artists?

We’d have to go for the album OK Computer by Radiohead. Incredible songs and such unique and interesting production. I don’t think it could be more perfect. And on top of this, it demonstrated how much growth Radiohead would continue to show, album to album, always pushing themselves out of their comfort zones to make something completely different. We both found that really inspiring. 

Any dream artists you’d like to collaborate with someday that you haven’t yet?

The ultimate for us would probably be Bon Iver. Frank Ocean, Khruangbin, Keshi and Mac DeMarco would be incredible too. Not sure how likely any of these are though!

Your fans in Hong Kong loved the Preface Coffee collab — any plans to work together again or do something special here in the future?

Yes we really enjoyed that collab with Preface Coffee. It was great to see our mixtape artwork on the cups and shop front. We don’t have any plans to do anything else in Hong Kong just yet — other than maybe planning a show!

How do you take your coffee these days?

James: Our go-to coffee is a flat white. Andy has his with normal cow’s milk. I’d go for oat milk.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans in Asia?

To all our fans in Asia — we have missed you so much! It’s been way, way, way too long and we cannot wait to come back and see you all again. Thanks for all the love and support you’ve shown us online over the last couple of years — we’ve really felt it. Please stay safe and take care of each other, and we’ll see you very soon.

(Images courtesy of Warner Music Hong Kong)

Nathan Erickson
Made in Seoul and based in Hong Kong, Nathan has covered food, fashion and music from New York to Paris to Oaxaca. He enjoys street photography, buying too many hooded sweatshirts and he'll never turn down a tequila soda. Catch him on weekends hiking trails all over Hong Kong in hopes of finding his idol, Chow Yun-fat.
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