Written by Shannon Moore
Oh Honey excel in a brand of pop-timism not often heard from those who are competing to poke through the saturated Brooklyn bubble. When singer/songwriter Mitchy Collins met vocalist Danielle Bouchard through mutual friends, they had both been living and performing in the city for a number of years. The constant struggle of pursuing their passion in the big city is certainly enough to turn any starry-eyed musician jaded, but Collins and Bouchard had other plans. Inspired by a rooftop honey farming faze in the city and the duo’s favorite episode of How I Met Your Mother, Oh Honey was born. Despite their quick rise in national attention (thanks in part to their track “Be Okay” getting featured on Glee) Collins and Bouchard have showed no signs of slowing down yet.
Wish You Were Here, Oh Honey’s latest EP, is the third addition to a four-part series titled The Post Card Series. And while they certainly haven’t abandoned their silver-lining sensibilities this release is a bit more overcast, touching on more personal matters and relationships than ever before.
Additionally, Oh Honey is gearing up for their first headlining U.S. tour, so there’s lots of excitement in the air over in Brooklyn.
Fortunately, I was able to speak with Collins and Bouchard about the energy of the city, their unique approach to songwriting, and the thrills and stresses of touring.
You guys are based out of Brooklyn now, but where did each of you grow up?
Danielle Bouchard: I grew up in Albany, and I’ve lived in the city for about seven years.
Mitchy Collins: I grew up in a little town in New Jersey called Bedminster. It’s very tiny. My graduating class in high school was like, 110 kids or something.
Was there much of a music scene going on in either of those places?
DB: Yeah! Growing up I went to a lot of smaller local shows, lots of pop-punk Warped Tour kinds of things. There were a lot of pretty cool venues around the area, saw a lot of bands it was fun.
MC: There was definitely a huge music scene in Jersey where I was growing up. I grew up about 15 minutes north of New Brunswick and it was a hub back then with all the venues in it. I remember going to see countless shows, and Skate and Surf and Bamboozle started in Asbury Park in Jersey. I was definitely thriving in the same pop-punk “emo” world from when I was like 12 or 13.
With all that going on back home, what was the main push for you both to move into the city?
DB: I moved out here to go to school actually. I grew up doing a lot of theatre and I actually went to school for acting and I minored in music. I went to Pace University which is in downtown Manhattan and moved out here straight after high school in 2008. I always knew I would want to end up here in the city. I felt like this was the place where my dreams would hopefully come true so this is where I wanted to be.
MC: I moved here around the same time, I’ve been living here on and off since I was about 18. I didn’t go to school or anything but I came here because I used to hang out here so much in and out of high school that it just got to the point where I was like, “Oh I’ll just move here.” The music scene was great, and even when I wasn’t living here I felt like I lived in New York City and just slept in New Jersey. It got to the point where I thought, “I should just get an apartment.”
Some people thrive on the energy of the city, while other people thrive from the squalor of trying to “make it.” Where do you guys feel that you fall on the spectrum?
MC: New York definitely had those moments where it almost swallowed me whole. I remember two years ago when we were putting this band together the struggle definitely helped push it, you know what I mean? It fosters the mentality of “this has to work.” At that point it was the most broke I’ve ever been in my life, to the point where I was dodging eviction notices, I couldn’t pay rent anymore because I was putting everything into getting the band together with Danielle. I was trying to figure out what I could sell to get money for food that month and maybe pay rent. But that struggle definitely lit a fire because it was like this has to work or I’m moving back in with Mom.
DB: I think it’s a combination of both. I worked throughout college and I was always involved with multiple plays and writing music when I had free time. When I graduated and when we started the band I was waitressing four or five days a week and I would run right from there to practice. It’s crazy and really tough sometimes living here and trying to make rent and still pursue what you want to do but I think if you want something bad enough you make it work. It’s a combination of that New York City energy and the fire that’s lit within you from the struggle that you face.
You guys are about to release the third part of what you’ve called The Postcard Series, what was the inspiration behind this project?
MC: The whole mentality behind that is that nowadays it’s a singles market. People really only care about a song, maybe two, three or four on a full length record if you’re lucky. Unless you’re Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift or Mumford and Sons or something of that caliber. So we thought instead of putting out a full length record and going to our fans, “Hey here’s your songs for the next two years…” I know for me personally when I listen to a new record from a band I’m really stoked on I burn that thing out in like a month. And then I’m like when’s your next music going to come out? So we thought instead of releasing a full-length and having people only care about three or four songs, let’s break it up and release a four-song EP every few months so we can keep people excited and keep the music coming to the fans. We just want to keep music flowing.
Do you find that writing comes easier when you don’t have to fill in like nine or ten spots? Is there less pressure on you guys?
MC: I actually think there’s more pressure. With a full-length you’ll be on tour, then you’re off for four or five months where you can write and record, then you tour again and have off for four or five months to write a record. The songs on our first three EPs had been written for a year or so, because when we first started the band we had the mentality of writing for a full-length. So we wrote a bunch of songs which became the first EPs. But this EP and and next one involves finding the time to write in between tours and making sure they’re all right. So at times it is a bit stressful because we’re like, “Okay what week of time do we have to maybe get in the studio for a few days.”
DB: It’s kind of nice for that reason too because we can write a bunch of songs and since we had already chosen all of the names of the EPs we can decide which ones fit based on the title of the EP. Maybe we wrote a song that we really like but it doesn’t necessarily work for this one, but maybe it’ll work for the next one. It gives us a bit more freedom in terms of writing.
What can fans expect from Wish You Were Here that is different from the past couple releases?
MC: Hmm….There’s a couple of sad songs on it [laughs].
DB: We were really honest with this one.
MC: We always try to keep our songs as honest as possible. We pull from our lives and what we go through…
DB: We’re real!
MC: There’s a few songs on there though that are a bit on the sad side. This one song ‘A Thousand Times’ is about regret and being in a relationship and maybe not doing everything you can to make things work as they should. And then there’s ‘Sugar, You,’ the single, which is the upbeat feel-good track. Then there’s our staple ‘It Can’t Rain Forever’ which is optimistic “life’s too short to be pissed off,” kind of thing -your problems aren’t going to be forever, your mistakes aren’t forever, tomorrow’s another day kind of thing.
DB: The last song is kind of about trying to make long distance relationships work, which is especially challenging when you’re out on the road all the time. So that’s another one that got pretty real.
So you guys are set to go on your first headlining tour correct?
DB: It starts this week!
What do you see as the most exciting and the most stressful part of touring?
MC: The most exciting and stressful part is definitely putting on a headlining tour in general [laughs]. It’s exciting because we get to put on our own show. The stage is ours…
DB: We have some room on the stage that we’re not used to [laughs].
MC: The stage is ours to put on the show we want, and there’s no restrictions it’s literally ours. The stressful part is putting that together, and making sure everything runs as planned. There’s weeks of prep and rehearsals and stage props and production and making sure everything is finalized and putting the crew together…and it’s all stressful and exciting.
What’s on the horizon for Oh Honey in 2015 other than the tour?
DB: We have the final EP coming out, so once the tour ends we’ll be writing for that which we’re pretty excited for. And then more touring!
MC: Like Danielle said releasing, <cite>Until Next Time</cite> which is the final EP and then continuing writing. We’re always writing, there’s always more music coming out. Touring, writing, living [laughs].
For Oh Honey tour dates, music and news, click here.