Q + A With Hong Kong based Trio 'Blood Wine or Honey'

Blood Wine or Honey are a trio of international musicians, sound artists and composers based in Hong Kong. They released the debut  single “The Forest Is Expecting You”  last year (2016) on Plastic Pagan. Their second release “Anxious Party People” ( The EP consists of the tracks Anxious Party People and The Young Ones, with remixes by Factory Floor and Preservation featuring Mike Ladd respectively -BWH).  Getting attention from the creme de la creme of music industry including Gilles Peterson who has recently played and admired them on his BBC 6 Music radio programme and in his live DJ sets, and their debut show was at the first Sonar HK on 1st April 2017. Not a bad start!

Hiding amongst a vibrant cocktail of colours the heavily percussive nature of TFIEY hypnotises the listener. Elements of Jazz a la Sun Ra, afro psychedelia  and vocals akin to the works of Jesse Hackett (Owiny Sigoma Band, Bludd Relations, Jesse Hackett). The music lives up to the artwork that accompanies this release. Self described “mantric afro-bitten electro-psychedelia” on their Bandcamp page. This is exactly what to expect. A cacophony of colour, rhythms upon rhythms and enough bass to keep any sound system happy.

EMW: Where does the name Blood Wine or Honey come from?

BWH: It comes from a dicussion of influences and inspirations and Shane telling us about a band named Crash Worship. On their Wikipedia page it states “Audience members were showered in various substances such as blood, wine and honey while band members ignited combustibles and fire within the performance area” and we liked that as an image. So there you have it…

EMW: You all seem to have a lot of musical projects going at one time. How do you balance everything?

BWH: The short answer is—with great difficulty. The band has undergone a pretty lengthy gestation partly because of all our other ongoing commitments, and at times we’ve only been able to meet sporadically. So it’s pretty great to see it finally coming to fruition and for us to be able to devote a bit more time to it.

EMW: Is this trio something that has been growing for a while or has it come together recently?

BWH: It’s been growing for a long while. In terms of actually performing live it's brand new, but as a studio project we've been working on it for literally years!

EMW: Your influences are far reaching. Do you have specific roles when it comes to writing material or is it a free for all?

BWH: It is a bit of a free-for-all. We all have input on pretty much every aspect, working very closely together and basing our writing on playing around in the studio. Through this process all our disparate influences are hopefully allowed to flourish. It's at times a difficult and slow-moving journey but I think none of us would have it any other way, as it helps makes the music what it is.

EMW: How does BWOH sound live? What can audience expect from your live show?

BWH: We'd hope for a strong and exciting performance that reflects and communicates all our musical ideas and ideally moves people in one way or another. Like the records, but more high stakes, dangerous and loose.

EMW: Have you played live yet?

BWH: Yes—our debut show at Sonar was a challenging but really successful first outing and it was good to confirm we can cut it live! We also did a launch show for the EP and that was a lot of fun.

EMW: + How does it feel being on stage together. Did it all work out?

BWH: It feels pretty good! It’s been really good making the music happen live and the overall response has been very encouraging. Did it all work out… well, based on the response so far we’d like to think so, but that’s probably for others to decide!

EMW: Having been on a couple of high profile line ups in HK. Would you say that their is an openness in HK for new music ideas and projects?

BWH: In one sense, yes there is. These opportunities do pop up. In another way though there are really severe limitations in place here, especially when it comes to performing live and spaces for people to experiment and develop. So the irony is that in a certain way some people are very open to anything new or different precisely because there is so little out there.

EMW: You are releasing on Plastic Pagan. Is this a self release? I noticed that it is PP001 so also a debut for the label.

BWH: Yes it’s all self-released so far. PP01 is actually the track 'The Forest is Expecting You’, which is a digital only release we put out last year. Our 'Anxious Party People' EP which of course has a physical (vinyl) release is, as logic dictates, PP02!

EMW: There’s been some far reaching exposure for your release. DJs are picking it up and featuring on some really good shows (Giles Peterson BBC 6 and Rob Luis Unfold are two that come to mind). What’s been the most surprising feature you’ve had so far?

BWH: Yes, there’s been some good exposure. It's difficult to single out any one surprising feature but it's been good to get support from a wide variety of DJs and music makers based in some diverse corners of the world—from Greece to Thailand to Kazakhstan! Inclusion on the Bandcamp weekly show was also great and really helped spread the word.

EMW: Who else is worth listening to from HK?

BWH: Preservation—an outstanding DJ and producer of note who has worked for many years with Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and more recently with Ka. Preservation also delivered a cracking remix of our track ‘The Young Ones’ for the EP.