Honeyblood's Stina Tweeddale on her new creative project
We catch up with Honeyblood's Stina Tweeddale to chat about how the past year and a half has led to her new creative project under the moniker Stina Marie Claire
With a freshly-founded record label and Patreon-powered EP due on 1 October, Honeyblood’s Stina Tweeddale’s last 18 months have been far from idle. “I was supposed to play Doune the Rabbit Hole this weekend and it’s cancelled. My show would've been tomorrow,” explains Tweeddale wistfully over our video call. She’s dialled in from a corridor in her new home crouched on a piano stool so we “can’t see the mess”. But with her parents also relocating recently, the Scottish songwriter wastes no time in presenting a box-fresh Titanic VHS set complete with a fan-collectable film reel straight from the cutting room floor. “This would have been so chucky at the time,” she jokes, placing the pieces neatly back inside their case.
Despite all the disarray, both physically in her new digs not to mention the global state of affairs, Tweeddale has remained a focused creative force. Something that’s only been propelled by a steadfast fleet of fans she’s harboured since her band Honeyblood’s self-titled debut in 2014. But early last year, like many musicians, she was forced to pivot.
In the absence of her London-based bandmates, the musician began streaming solo performances online from her studio inviting a selection of Scots-based pals to join proceedings, from synth maven Carla J. Easton to songwriter Martha Ffion. But when lockdown hit, Tweeddale was forced to call off the upcoming sessions. “I remember sending emails to people being like, 'I'll get back in touch. Maybe we can do it again in a couple of weeks when this all blows over?'”
Buoyed by the reception of the streamed shows, Tweeddale looked to continue that camaraderie in a more permanent form. She turned to Patreon to launch a fans-only space for creative collaborations alongside a bid to address more immediate threats to her as an artist who’s made their trade on the live circuit. “From a basic financial level, I was like, 'What am I going to do with no shows?' I only thought it was going to run for a couple of weeks but it's financially supported me this whole time,” she shares with a noticeable sense of gratitude. “Every week, I break down like, 'Oh, my cat can have a good life because [of] you guys.'”
This intimacy with her fanbase isn’t a new concept for a performer like Tweeddale though. Only now, of course, it’s not just mere moments at the merch stand but on a continuous level to develop something fresh. “If you've been to a Honeyblood show, everybody knows I'm not one of these people that walks off stage and to the van. I'll be the last person in the room chatting. Patreon is an extended version of that.” Her something fresh comes in the form of Stina Marie Claire, a moniker that encapsulated the new persona born through her online Patreon community and a new way of working.
Picking up the guitar during lockdown proved trickier than first envisioned, and so a lot of the money raised from the live streams initially went straight back into the project to purchase a synth. “I work at night, which is annoying for people who live with me because I'm up at 4am raving to my own music. I wanted something that was going to be loud but I can plug it in, and it wasn't going to disturb anyone.” The new EP, The Sundays-inspired A Souvenir of a Terrible Year, is a product of her online community’s unwavering support over the last 18 months who, she explains, are behind every decision of the release; from which tracks made the cut to the EP title and accompanying artwork.
For those of us who struggled to meet our ambitions of learning a foreign language or finally penning that book, Tweeddale’s ability to present a completely new creative guise seems admirable. But the tenacious songwriter didn’t stop there. The EP will be put out on ICEBLINK LUCK, the label and management company Tweeddale co-founded with SMIA Creative Projects and Communications Director Robert Kilpatrick in December 2019. It's another way for the headstrong artist to have full autonomy over her work, she admits. “It was very scary to think about but it’s great to have complete control over your own destiny and your future.”
The collective is also committed to developing new blood on the local scene, especially after so many years within it herself. “It’s nice to be Mother Hen for once. It gives me the chance to be like, 'Okay, here are all the terrible mistakes that I've made in my career. Don't do them.'”
Speaking to Tweeddale, it’s clear that this period of enforced isolation has given her time to slow down and reflect after the fast-paced life on the road. After all, the sweet spot of Honeyblood will always be rooted in Scotland. “I spent so much of my time travelling around the world but being forced to stay [here] made me look inwardly at our own community. Creatively, there's so much variety and uniqueness. Maybe it's a good thing to stop searching outwardly for something and just look at who's around you.”
A Souvenir of a Terrible Year is released on 1 Oct via ICEBLINK LUCK