GETTING TO KNOW:
P&S ECD Alex was the first of us to hear them through his humble kitchen servant and beloved friend ‘Roberts the radio’, locked to Giles Petersons’ show. Alex was about to leave for a holiday so scribbled down the band name on the back of an envelope (it was too early and smoking for Shazam recognition). First day back in the office he orders the 12” EP from the Blood Wine or Honey bandcamp, then just a few minutes later James from the band calls the office. Turns out they both knew each other somehow or other, and low and behold James had already sent the EP on e-mail days before. Lovely! Music this good doesn't get missed!
Blood Wine or Honey are the HEAT! They're also a new act emerging from the industrial warehouses of Hong Kong. An American and two Brits who met in the city and are putting hairs on our chests with their euphoric mash up of influences; free jazz and afro-chewed funk infused with eccentric rhythms and off-the-wall electronica. Likey!
Their debut EP ‘Anxious Party People’ came out in April, and to date they have only performed live together twice; but rest assured you are in safe and capable hands.
The band is formed of Shane Aspegren (drums and electronics), James Banbury (keyboard, bass and cello) and Joseph von Hess (wind instruments and percussion) – all of which were seasoned pro's in the music game before Blood Wine Or Honey was fused.
So let's get to know them a little, shall we?
For anyone who is unfamiliar with Hong Kong's music scene, describe it in 5 words?
Jo: more or less completely f**ked
James: constricted, humid, and imperfectly formed
Shane: squashed between mountains and sea… or rather, government and real estate, but that would be six words.
Your debut EP 'Anxious Party People' contains a lot of different cultural music themes, how has living in Hong Kong helped shape this?
Jo: I am a perpetual outsider and this place is quite good for that. Being outside allows you to look in and sample what you want—it offers a certain level of objectivity.
James: We sit outside the mainstream in Hong Kong, both ethnically (Hong Kong is 96% Chinese) and within the western community. Our outsider status allows us to beg, borrow and steal influences from both here and and across the wider East Asia region. That can manifest itself in instruments collected on our travels, the noise and energy of the streets, the hyper modernism of K-Pop, the depths of cultural difference and people’s histories. Being here has also helped us to realise that the world doesn’t revolve around the music scene in any particular place.
Shane: One feature that was written on BWoH described us as a "benign musical manifestation of globalization,” which sums things up fairly well. I’ve spent most of my adult life outside of the country I grew up in, and I suppose the fact that we are all long-term residents here must point to our shared embrace of everything.
What's the story behind the name ‘Blood Wine or Honey’?
It’s indirectly from a mythic performance art band called Crash Worship, who came up in a conversation on live experiences that influenced our perception of music. On their Wikipedia entry it says “Audience members were showered in various substances such as blood, wine and honey while band members ignited combustibles and fire within the performance area.” We liked that image.
How do you think a person hearing your music for the first time would describe it?
'A kitchen sink approach to body music' is how one description went. That works for us.
What's the one piece of studio kit you couldn't go without as a group?
Does wine count?
What do you want your listeners to feel when blasting your tunes?
Confusion, surprise, fear, laughter, sexual tension, gay abandon, curiosity… something… anything… please?
What artist/ band are you listening to right now that we need to check out?
Jo: I am listening to the new 'Melody and Electronics' EP by Glyn 'Bigga' Bush. The title speaks for itself. It's quirky and quite brilliant.
James: “Das Macht Modern” by The Durian Brothers
Shane: Kool AD
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be?
Jo: Hildegard of Bingen. Maybe she could write something in that secret mystical language she invented. Or failing that, William Blake for an album cover.
James: Galileo or Tex Avery
Shane: Dead: Louis Buñuel OR living: Miranda July
If each of you had the ability to transform into any animal when playing your music, what would it be and why?
Jo: I’d go for a piine marten. Lithe, speedy and well at home in the forest.
James: A centaur - they have arms and hands (which can be useful while playing), and four lovely strong legs for stomping about.
Shane: Something with more limbs I suppose… maybe an octopus, though I don’t know how swift they would be with the water and all.
Some of you write to picture for advertising, a gig we're well versed in, how does this experience influence writing with BWoH, and could you describe the visuals that you’d have in mind to suit the track ‘Anxious Party People?
Writing without anything to direct the music can be liberating, but also difficult because of the limitlessness. Our process is very much a melding of our three minds and spirits. For Anxious Party People visuals: a spaceship in the deep forest with Laurel and Hardy dancing to some booty bass with The Muppets.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Another EP in the late autumn. Live shows in Europe before Christmas. A video shoot on a yacht.