Made up of three sisters from Peckham, South London – all of whom are under the age of 16 – the Honey Hahs are sweetening political commentary with a cheery youthful optimism and unapologetic directness.
Their debut record Dear Someone, Happy Something is instilled with nuanced melodies, off-beat rhythms (10-year-old drummer Sylvie has an affinity for afro percussion) and a precious sincerity. Produced by Steve Mackey of Pulp, the studio was often ringing with laughter while they were putting the record together. “We giggled a lot because our voices sounded so loud through the headphones,” explains Sylvie and guitarist and pianist Rowan.
Dear Someone captures the little moments that fluttered past you while you were growing up, moments that prove difficult for our memories to entirely hold onto. ‘Swallow’ was written by Rowan during a long car trip, while ‘River’ was inspired by the classic fantasy film Bridge To Terabithia. And ‘I Know You Know’ was a gift that Sylvie crafted for her father’s birthday (after being suggested by her mother, Dido, of course).
And their single ‘Stop Him’ reflects the sentiments of the UK’s recent Stop Trump protest, which saw thousands of demonstrators descend on the streets of central London in protest of the American president’s appearance at the Nato summit in Brussels. The sisters chant in unison, “Even though you have some power / one day they’ll realise you’re sour.”
Watch the clip for ‘Stop Him’ By Honey Hahs below
Written between their home and their grandma’s house in Bristol, the track was originally intended to be about those who bored them. “It started just vague about having to spend time with people you find annoying,” explain Sylvie and Rowan.
“And then when we heard about Donald Trump, we thought it would be good to write about him. Building a wall between two countries? That’s just dumb and like something a kid would do.”
Throughout their nascent career, the band have proved as frank in their lyricisms as they are in their answers: ‘Love Whoever’ was penned after Sylvie learnt at school that “gay people were not allowed to be with each other in the old days,” she explains.
The three sisters create aptly honeyed harmonies akin to that of ‘70s-era The Roches (another sister three-piece), and their songwriting is sprinkled with subtle touches of style that set them apart from other folk-pop acts. They could easily be placed in the ranks of indie-folk rockers Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and The Lemon Twigs.
“We learnt to harmonise when Mum played a lot of Wally Whyton in the car – she loved to harmonise to his songs. We were just messing about basically,” says Sylvie and Rowan. From there, they discovered viral sister duo Lennon and Maisy on Youtube. “We learnt songs they sang and started to busk them and it went down quite well.”
Watch the clip for ‘Forever’ by Honey Hahs below
Their father, a poet and musician, Tim Siddall, told The Guardian that he wished that they’d play with bags over their heads to hold onto their anonymity and enjoy a typical childhood. But the three young women aren’t fazed by fame. Asked what they love most about making music, they reply enthusiastically (and with zero context), “The snacks!”
Their mother, Dido is an artist and director of Maverick Projects, a company that hires out London’s near-crumbling, but visually alluring heritage sites – and she had her own stint as a musician in ’90s pop group Tiger. The greatest lesson their parents have passed on to them, Sylvie and Rowan say, is “to just get on with it and not worry too much what others think of you.”
Since their initiation, the Honey Hahs have shared the stage with some killer acts: Insecure Men, Shame and Goat Girl, to name a few. Balancing state school and a multiplicity of extra-curricular activities isn’t easy on the sisters. When questioned what the most challenging aspect of being in a band is, Rowan explains, “It can be tiring. Once Sylvie was almost asleep playing drums at a gig. And sometimes you can’t go out because you have a gig – but we always enjoy it, so it’s fine.”