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Interview With Glenn Gregory

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Honeyroot is the duo of Glenn Gregory and Keith Lowndes. This British act attracted many fans with their debut album "Sound Echo Location". Their lush, laid back sound won them a loyal following. It was a stirring example of well produced, ambient electronics. The duo has just released their follow up "The Sun Will Come Down", which also promises to garner the act even more fans.

For as long as I can remember, if anyone asked me who my favorite male vocalist was, without hesitation I would say Glenn Gregory. The man gained widespread notoriety in the 80s as the frontman for the great New Wave band Heaven 17. He has also collaborated with numerous other artists, and remains a notable figure in the legendary "Sheffield sound".

Today Glenn keeps busy with Honeyroot and numerous other projects. I was thrilled to recently catch up with him and talk about his musical endeavours and the awesome sound of Honeyroot.

Honeyroot. Gregory (left) and Lowndes.

1. When I read reviews of Honeyroot's music, I often see the word "organic" used to describe your compositions. Do you intentionally go for this organic quality, or does it just happen?

I suppose it's just a word that helps us try to explain that we don't have a plan... the way we work is generally to write a song in the old fashioned way, maybe on piano or guitar. Then perhaps I will sing it and we'll start to program it up... then we cut it up and mash it around, then when we find a direction we are happy with we decide who we might like to sing it, then we get them in and record a rough vocal. Then we mix and cut and squash and change and eventually, after many twists and turns and tempo changes we find where we really want to be... we then really decide who we want to sing it and get them in to record a proper vocal. Then we argue for months over the mix... but after all that, we do finally manage to agree that it's finished... well I do, Keith would still be working on track 1 if I'd let him.

2. Please tell us about your new album. How does it differ from previous recordings?

The first Honeyroot album is a beautiful relaxing journey from start to finish, it's the kinda thing you can put on anytime and just drift away, it's quite cinematic and visual with quite long unfolding works. For the second album we wanted to create a more "song" based piece of work, but still trying to keep that cinematic, journey feel. I think as we were coming to the end of recording we were slightly worried that the tracks we'd created wouldn't sit together as a whole but as we started to put the running order of the album together it just seemed to somehow magically fit and feel like a real album. Phew!!!

3. How and when was Honeyroot formed?

Well to over use an overused word... it was a real organic process. Keith and I had been working together on different projects including some songwriting, some film and TV work and some producing from about 1998, and somehow along the way we had amassed a body of work we liked to call our own but had no real outlet for, so we decided to become a band.
After discovering the wonderful label "Just Music" we suddenly had to put all our ideas together because we had a release date.

4. Do you enjoy playing live, or would you rather spend time in the studio?

To be honest I think it's the writing process that I really enjoy. I find live work exciting for the hour or so you're on stage but the whole circus that goes with it is one big pain up the bum.

5. What's your opinion of the current music scene in England? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

I think the current music scene in Britain is so open and wide that just about anything goes... this is both a strength and a weakness. I personally find it all gets repeated a little too quickly. I think the music scene needs a new direction and my guess is that will be technology lead. Couldn't tell you what it's gonna be though, I live in anticipation.

6. You both worked with Martin Fry on the last ABC record. Can we expect you to appear on the upcoming ABC album?

No, but I am looking forward to hearing it.

7. Many people (especially in North America) feel that electronic music is cold, stiff and expressionless. But your music is obviously none of those. Do you find it frustrating in this day and age that there still tends to
be somewhat of an apprehension towards electronic music?

To be honest yes, it's something I have lived with since the beginning of my musical career all those years ago.
They are all wrong. Just because a musical piece is conceived and perfected using a computer does not make it any less soulful as something written and played on a banjo or violin.

Keep music programmed I say...

8. What artists originally inspired you to start making music?

Ooo so many, from glam rock to the Jacksons from Mozart to Kraftwerk, from Funkadelic to Gregorian chants... it all goes in and eventually finds a way out somewhere. I love music when it creeps into your unconscious and lies in wait for the right time to reappear.

9. What pieces of gear or instruments do you have to have in the studio?

Well right now I'm sat in the studio and I'm looking at a computer so jam packed with goodies I'm getting excited, I can also see 3 acoustic guitars, 2 electric guitars and a bass oh and a mouth organ and a penny whistle, and some shakers and a tambourine and a microphone... so that's all you need to create a Honeyroot album.

10. How was the new album recorded? In a home studio? Are any of your songs born out of jams?

Everything was written and recorded here in my studio at the bottom of my garden. A 10 foot by 12 foot piece of electronic heaven. The way we work I suppose could be called one long bloody jam... in fact some of em are still going on.

11. What's next for Honeyroot?

More hard work... maybe live... a quicker album than the last and world domination. All in a days work.


Check out the website for Honeyroot's label, Just Music.

More Information on Honeyroot