Getting Away With It: Stina Tweeddale on 10 Years of Honeyblood

Ahead of Honeyblood’s eponymous debut album celebrating its tenth anniversary, we take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with Stina Tweeddale

Feature by Tallah Brash | 14 May 2024
  • Stina Tweeddale

“Bloody hell, who gets the opportunity to record their debut record after being in a band for only a couple of years, and with Peter Katis?”

It's emotional listening to Stina Tweeddale recount her time recording Honeyblood's eponymous debut with then-bandmate Shona McVicar at Katis’s Tarquin Studios in Connecticut; she still can’t seem to process it. “He was like, ‘Sigur Rós used this piano, and The National used this piano, or Interpol used this guitar’, and you're just like, ‘Why am I even here?!’

“At the time, I just remember thinking it was a dream come true, and it still is… I've got such an amazing feeling wrapped up in that recording process and that record. And now, having a lot of hindsight about making records, I feel very, very grateful for that having been my first experience,” she says. “It's got [Peter’s] stamp all over it, which I love… It's got a real character, and I think it's quite a charming record. I can say all this because it's ten years later,” she laughs, admitting, “I wouldn't have said that at the time at all.”

Honeyblood came out in the summer of 2014 on much-loved indie label FatCat Records, also responsible for releasing seminal records by other Scottish greats like Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks. It was exciting at the time to see Honeyblood doing so well in a corner of the music scene largely dominated by men. It's no surprise, then, that Tweeddale is keen to point out how much things have changed. “It's amazing how now literally the best art that's coming out is all women," she says, adding that it's a "big fucking deal" to see artists like Doja Cat and Lana Del Rey headlining Coachella this year. 

We digress. Speaking ahead of Record Store Day, 2013’s celebrations spring to mind. It was thrilling to see Honeyblood happy to play a free afternoon show in the basement of a Stockbridge pub with a hired-in PA. “I'll still do it!” Tweeddale enthuses. “I loved that one… I remember we were on tour… I got kicked out of the van, they dropped me off at the pub opposite VoxBox, I just jumped out with my guitar, plugged it in and then jumped back in the van.”

She continues: “When we started, we did loads of crazy DIY gigs; being a two-piece, we didn't take up much space […] I don't even know whose idea this one was, but we got a generator and we played outside The Arches at the end of the Beach House show,” she recalls. “We set up in the tunnel and we just started playing. I don't even remember why [...] We just rocked up and played random places and kind of got away with it.”

The intimacy granted by Honeyblood in the beginning is still strong today, and the nostalgia conjured from a recent Instagram post about Tweeddale's favourite Honeyblood lyrics – Biro's ‘If I threw my pen into the sea / I know there'll be someone to write after me’ – felt emotional. “I always get a little shudder when people tell me they've got my lyrics tattooed,” Tweeddale tells us somewhat uncomfortably, worried people might one day regret their decision. “When I write something it's mostly from my own perspective or through my lens, so you never ever think about that... Then you see how someone else interprets it, and how they morph the meaning to make it relevant to their own experience."

Just like Honeyblood’s lyrics have taken on new meaning for fans, Tweeddale tells us that the meaning of the record has, over time, changed for her too. And so has the Honeyblood live lineup, with Tweeddale now joined on stage by drummer Debbie Knox-Hewson (Nasty Cherry / Charli XCX) and bassist Anna Donigan (PINS). “I love my band,” she enthuses, “I feel like this is the best band that there has been for Honeyblood.”

With Honeyblood continuing to evolve and a hint at new music on the horizon – "I am trying to make a new record" – in celebration of Honeyblood's tenth anniversary, Tweeddale is keeping things nostalgic for the forthcoming May tour; even the addition of 2023 Sound of Young Scotland winners No Windows to the bill in Newcastle and Glasgow ties into the vibe. “I'm really happy they wanted to come on this tour; I don't want to be cliché, but I see myself in [them]… especially being an Edinburgh band just doing [their] own thing… Their stuff reminds me of what I was trying to make [in the beginning]."

Looking to the future, what advice does Tweeddale have for other young artists trying to make their mark? "If you want to make something that stands the test of time, that’s original and is truthful and is you, then you have to take a distance from what everyone else is doing and really just look inward," she says. "You should ask yourself what you want to make, instead of trying to chase something else. And I would never have said that ten years ago."

Honeyblood is reissued on red vinyl on 21 Jun via FatCat Records; Honeyblood play Stereo, Glasgow, 30 May