Pale Honey are a minimalist rock duo from Gothenburg in Sweden. Already likened to PJ Harvey and Sleater-Kinney for their intensity and directness and calling to mind the sonic textures of Alvvays and Beach House, their debut single proper 'Youth' landed online just a few weeks ago.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Nelly and Tuva in a bar in downtown Gothenburg where they were just about to order some beers and get comfortable, we ordered more of the same, sat down and chatted about beer loving bears, secret album launch parties and frequently missing gigs, here's how we got on....
We know you’re called Pale Honey and you’re from Gothenburg in Sweden, can we start by asking you where the name ‘Pale Honey’ came from?
We’ve always liked the word honey so we just found a compatible word to go with it and went for it.
Please describe your music in one sentence?
Simplicity and intensity at the same time.
Tuva, please give me three words that best describe Nelly?
Mischievous, kind and awkward (awkward in the best sense!)
And Nelly, three words to describe Tuva?
I see from your Twitter feed that ‘Youth’ is #1 on the Swedish student radio list, is this a big achievement for you?
It was for a little while, and it sure was a fun surprise since it’s the first song we’ve worked on getting out from the album. So far the feedback on the song has been great, so it definitely was exciting.
We don’t come across that much music from Sweden, how is the music scene out there at the moment?
People play all different kinds of music over here, but the pop-genre is probably the most spoken of at this time.
Your self-titled debut album is to be released on May 4th, is this a worldwide release date? How are you planning on celebrating when it gets released? Any secret parties?
Yes, worldwide release! We’re planning to have a small gathering with friends and family over at a secret location to play a few songs and celebrate and then we’re off to drink beer together and just have a good time.
Do you have the same issues we have here with young men growing ridiculously long beards and covering themselves in tattoos to look ‘cool’?
Well... who doesn’t like beards?
Who would you say are the bands that influenced you the most musically?
You recorded your debut album in 3 different studios (Paris, Gothenburg & Stockholm), why not just stay in one studio?
We decided to go to Paris to record at first because Anders (our producer) lived there at the time and we all wanted to record there for the experience and the inspiration of being in a new city. We packed our bags and went with RyanAir without a single instrument, just guitar picks and drum sticks since we couldn’t even afford paying for the extra luggage. We decided to focus at a few songs at a time, so that’s why we did the second record session at Nacksving Studios in Gothenburg . Then a few months later Anders moved to Stockholm and we got the opportunity to record at Warner Studios there so we got on the train and recorded the last songs up there. Then the mixing was made at the beloved Nacksving Studios, Gothenburg once again which wrapped up the whole experience quite perfectly.
You also recorded many sounds in the kitchen of your producer (Anders Lagerfors), did the kitchen turn into a make shift studio for you?
Kind of! Anders made the pre-productions before we went into the studio in his kitchen where he has this small desk filled with his gear where he works. He saved everything we’ve sent to him and that he’s been working with, and so some of the guitar and synth sounds that we’re supposed to work as guides or test sounds turned out to good to be replaced so we kept a lot of it.
I’ve never been to Sweden but a friend of mine who used to work for an international language school told me some amazing stories about the nightlife there, how do you normally spend a Saturday night?
Playing or listening to music with the company of a few nice bottles of beer or tucking ourselves into bed with wine and watching a TV series together. When we go out we usually end up in a more pub-like atmosphere than at clubs, we prefer sitting down and just having a good time with friends.
What are your Saturday night (getting ready to party) and Sunday morning (recovering after a heavy session) albums to listen to?
Getting ready definitely means listening to Eagles of Death Metal. Everytime. And then we throw in some Danko Jones, some Fu Manchu and we’re ready. Sunday morning gets more of a calm music feeling since we’re pretty good at laying in bed the whole morning sleeping or praying for water. King Krule, Warpaint, Kashmir - anything for the healing, possibly-still-drunk soul.
Being a two piece band, are you planning on inviting other musicians in to assist on future tracks?
We work really well together and we want to continue writing our own songs and having Anders to be available for feedback and producing and what he does is great. We’ll see what the future brings, making music is so much fun and if we find someone who really goes well with what we do, who knows!
Are you getting tired of being likened to The White Stripes and other two piece bands?
Not at all, you do get another sound if you’re two working on something compared to a larger band anyways. We might not have the eccentric guitars of Jack White or the blues-feel of The Black Keys but the same simplicity with creating the base of the music with two instruments is still there.
What keeps you awake at night?
Being too excited, restless, tired and having bad pillows at the same time.
What was the first gig you ever went to see and what was the most recent?
Nelly: The real first gig I can remember was Queens of the Stone Age in Stockholm. I had just turned 15, managed to miss the train, lose my money and had no battery on my phone but I made it to Stockholm and was super excited. Most recent was a gig of a friend of ours, and also this time I managed to miss almost the entire show. I showed up for the last two songs. Come to think of it, I have the worst timing. I Shouldn’t have become a drummer.
Tuva: First gig… hmm I guess it was some unknown local punk band back in the days (I was a really cool bass player in a punk band back then). Last gig was SBTRKT at Sonar Festival in Stockholm. It was fantastic!
What do you think is the best hangover cure? We in England often say it’s a traditional fried breakfast (sausage, egg, bacon, toast, beans etc…)
Pizza and more beer with friends works best for us, 10/10.
What is the best piece of advice you ever heard and who gave it to you?
It’s either “dare to be afraid” (from a song made by swedish band Kent) or “put hot sauce on it”, both were life-changing.
What is the most ‘rock n roll’ thing that you have ever done?
Played music. Got drunk. Had sex. It was a good day. Also bought ice-cream for dinner, it was crazy!
What message would you give to a band just starting out and asking for some advice?
Play a lot, then play some more. And when you think you’re done playing, play even more.
If you could create your own ‘super group’ who would be in it and why?
Are you planning to play any UK music festivals this summer? I see you played the Wickerman Festival in 2014 and a couple of dates in Inverness, did you not fancy taking a trip to London?
Right now we’ve only got a few days in London for a gig, but who knows.. there might be more dates coming up later this year.
You are playing at The Islington in London on May 20th, who are you bringing along with you as support?
That’s not been announced just yet!
It was our turn to get the beers in, being Sweden, there were no Wetherspoons pubs in sight and it wasn't 'happy hour' so I had to sell a kidney in order to get another 3 drinks. After being stitched up, I sat back down and thought it appropriate to launch some quickfire questions on the ladies...
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Drum machine or the real deal?
Mac or PC?
We’re disagreeing on this point.
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
Snowboarding or Sunbathing?
Cappucino or Latte?
Car or Motorbike?
Swedish Summer or Swedish Winter?
Summer, the winters are depressing over here.
Acoustic or electric?
The Black Keys or Royal Blood?
Shower or Bath?
Tattoos or Piercings?
Robert de Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?
Google is god.
We'd like to thank Nelly and Tuva of Pale Honey for taking time out to answer our questions and we wish them every success with the launch of their self titled debut album on May 4th, we'll be running a review of it shortly so please watch this space.
In the meantime, please take some time to check out their social media pages, I have listed them all below, just point and click!
Interview by Steve Muscutt