Honeyblood’s Stina Tweeddale on her new album, nightmares and witches

This album was possibly the most daunting I’ve made. I pushed the boat out furthest for this one.

Ahead of the release of her first album as a solo artist, Phoebe de Angelis caught up with Stina Tweeddale of Honeyblood to talk all things In Plain Sight, nightmares, witches and ex-boyfriends.

The music video for ‘She’s a Nightmare’ was filmed in Simon Drake’s House of Magic. What was it like to shoot in such an exclusive and haunting venue
It was really fun! I did get kicked in the face by one of the contortionists half way through… but it was an amazing venue and a great little crew and cast. One of the characters was actually based on my nightmare character; I just chucked that in for a little extra something.

How important would you say the visual representation of this single is to aiding its understanding?
I’m quite hands on when it comes to all the visual aspects. They represent my music so I want to be very involved with it! I’ve got quite a track record for making spooky videos.

Both your track listing and lyricism seem to be connotative of witchcraft, particularly in songs like ‘A Kiss From The Devil’ and ‘You’re A Trick’. Is it safe to say you draw inspiration from magic for your songs?
I definitely do, I actually studied history at university in Glasgow and witchcraft was one of my topics, mostly the history of witchcraft in Scotland, hence why I make homages to the place where the last ever witch was executed (Dornoch, Scotland) within my songs. I am really involved in it. I think it’s something I find really fascinating, I said I wasn’t going to make another witchy album but I have! I’m just going with it now. I find that if I write a character into my music I try to write them so as to make them multidimensional, I like them to have other sides. They may not necessarily be the ‘goody’ or the ‘baddy’. Instead there’s a whole story behind them which may not come across in the lyrics. The characters are very built in my own head and I try to make them up in detail before I start writing the song.

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What is the songwriting process usually like for you?
‘She’s a Nightmare’ is an exceptionally personal song. A lot of the songs on my records are but especially that one, it was one of the most personal songs I’d ever written. After months of touring my last album Babes Never Die, I finally came home to rest and developed increasingly vivid and frightening night terrors. At one point they were a weekly occurrence – the same figure would visit me each time hell-bent on either strangling or just scaring me to death! I find it so fascinating that it’s something completely fabricated from my own imagination, so it was good inspiration for that song.

What’s the one thing you hope your listeners take away from one of your songs?
I write mostly for myself. In quite an organic way of writing, it does become very personal. Saying that, I do really enjoy people telling me how they interpreted my songs, giving a complete different level to the music. I don’t really think about what other people may think of the songs until they’re done, produced, and finished; I really enjoy hearing what people connect to and their interpretation of the lyrics, and sometimes it may even be completely different from how I’ve written the song to be intended.  That is the great thing about it, the fact that it is so open to interpretation. People get whatever they want from it… that’s the part of the process that I really enjoy.

With your third album In Plain Sight set for release on 24 May, how would you say this album differs from the self-titled debut Honeyblood and Babes Never Die?
This is technically my first solo record so it was a pretty daunting experience to take the reins and take full responsibility for it. That’s definitely the main difference. I want it to be different. I’m never going to be able to continue to re-hash what I’ve done in the past and I would never want to do that. And sonically there are lots of different components in this one, even though there are some common themes, like ex-boyfriends and witches (which seem to be my topics!) it is always going to be daunting to be in new territory. In Plain Sight was possibly the most daunting. I pushed the boat out furthest for this one.

Does it follow on from any themes or ideas raised in the others?
It’s been three years since I recorded my last record and it’s been five since the first one, so I feel like the albums grow and change with me. I guess you learn from your experiences and put that into the new one.

How would you describe the album?
For this album in particular, I was struggling when I was writing it and trying to work out a lot of stuff that was happening in my own life, so it became a kind of unravelling. For this reason, unravelling is how I think I would describe this record.

What’s the motive behind the name In Plain Sight?
I was at home writing this record: quite isolated and trying to work out where it was going to go, and what was going to happen with it, and then it all clicked into place and I saw things really clearly- that’s why I called it In Plain Sight. You can tell lyrically that I was making it through at a lot of issues thinking “What’s going on?” The name represents the end process of writing this record and recording it. The name just stuck with me and really rings a note.

What was it like working with the acclaimed “super-producer” John Congleton (producer of: Angel Olsen, St Vincent, Sharon Van Etten) on this album?
Every time you work with a producer they’re bound to put their own spin on things and I really liked how John took the reins when it came to a lot of the sounds, the guitars and the synthesizers –  the kinds of things I would have not have even thought of. He has definitely put his mark on this record and taken it in a new direction, but that’s why I wanted to work with him in the first place!

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
‘Melodic brashness’. That’ll work!

You can catch Honeyblood at Plug on the 5th June. In Plain Sight is out on 24 May.

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