But I found out about Forever Honey before any of that took place, because I met Price, Mekonnen and Vannelli through their previous D.C.-based project, Queue—which in my mind, produced one of the best singles still out there today. (It's still an all time favorite.) I had the joy of seeing them perform live in the summer of 2017; a day of live music that has come to mean a lot more in hindsight, post-2020.
In forming a new identity, moving to NYC and adding a band member, in 2019 the musicians traded a kind of singer-songwriter indie rock sound for a dreamier, indie rock-and-roll sensibility, with jangly guitars and moody synths. The 80's influence shines through, but is remade in the image of the modern world, with lush harmonies, clarity in the production, and plenty of space for all the complicated emotions that come with living in our current century.
Forever Honey's second EP kicks off with their title track, "Could I Come Here Alone," the soundtrack to a daydream at the end of summer—perfectly timed with the release. As the warm weather begins to fade, nostalgia surfaces, experiences become memories, and we're only left with the feelings that those earlier moments have brought us. Somehow, Forever Honey puts that all into five minutes of music that, like the final moments of the season, you want to replay again and again.
"I'm a Winner, I'm A Loser," might be my favorite of the four. It's bold and delicate in its opening moments, the harmony completely exposed over rolling static. As they croon, "I forget how to ask for the things that I need," my heart drops into time and everything else melts away. It's unabashedly emotional, raw and beautiful as it builds up rich layers of drums, synths, bass and harmonies right until the end.
The EP concludes with their single “Singing To Let England Shake," a gentle but upbeat tune that shows off their strengths in both musicality and lyrics. Each time Price and Mekonnen sing "the space between us" in harmony, it creates a mesmerizing momentum that allows the mind to let go and let the heart guide the listener instead.
To learn more about the new release, I spoke with Forever Honey's Liv Price and Aida Mekonnen about their influences, their goals, creating music during the first two and a half years of COVID-19, and what's next for the band.
Price: I think maybe the trick was going into the songwriting and recording processes without any goals [or] inspirations in mind. We used to create these reference playlists ahead of recording, filled with songs we wanted to emulate, production-wise, but this time we just kind of felt it out real time. Our only goal was to do what's best for each song, verses trying to force it to sound like something else.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Price: Oh man, we're kind of all over the place in terms of what we grew up listening to and who we'd consider to be our "idols." My dad was a quintessential hippie, so The Beatles, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, The Hollies, Mamas and the Papas. etc. were always playing in the car. I think that's where my love of front-and-center vocals and heavy harmonies comes from. Aida, on the other hand, was all into 80s new wave from an early age — like how much cooler, haha. But she's heavily influenced by Johnny Marr, early U2, David Bowie, The Chameleons. You can just hear that in her guitar playing. I like to think our music is a perfect blend of those two worlds — 60s folk and 80s jangle.
In "I'm a Winner, I'm a Loser," the lyrics state early on "I forget how to ask for the things that I need," which resonated with me. What’s it about?
Mekonnen: So with this song, I had a chord progression I was playing around with for a day or two that I decided to try and put a vocal melody to. I never really know what’s going to come out lyrically, I usually approach this part with the mindset of “oh this is just filler” so I don’t overthink any of it and can focus a little more on melody and syllables. I think though, coming at it with little to no pressure lets me write in a more honest way. With some hindsight now, I think I wrote this about how I felt about myself at the time which was not so great. I was being hard on myself, identifying patterns of mistakes I saw myself making over and over again, acknowledging that I forget to advocate for myself in my relationships and sort of “lose myself” in the process, as corny as that sounds.
Price: God, I could probably write an essay about how the pandemic has affected my creativity. Not sure how the others would answer this, but for me, it's been rough, not gonna lie. I despise social media with a burning passion — I really get nothing positive from it and it's a huge trigger for my depression [and] anxiety. I just don't know how to be myself on it? That said, the need to have an internet presence as a band is the necessary evil for getting your music heard.
Ultimately, with Forever Honey, we just decided to put having fun and doing what we love at the forefront, rather than putting pressure on ourselves to be marketers, content creators, etc. We never want this band to become a chore or force anything that doesn't come naturally to us. That approach may not get us to the front page of Billboard anytime soon, but I don't know, I think we're feeling content.
The pandemic didn't impact our decision to self-record, but it definitely helped make it happen. Self-recording and producing are things we've been wanting to try out anyway, but with shows being halted and life just kind of stopping for a minute, it gave us the time and space to actually do it without a lot of pressure.
Well, speaking of the impacts of Covid, our personal calendars are pretty much fully committed for the remainder of the year, for attending rescheduled weddings haha. So sadly, we don't have any tours planned in 2022. That said, we're really hoping to start playing outside of the city by next year (I can't even believe we're already looking that far ahead).
In the meantime, we're just looking forward to spending our fall continuing to write, record. We're sitting on an album and keep adding to it, so it's just a matter now of figuring out how we wanna release everything!