Husband and wife Troy Brooks and Kassie Jordan Brooks make up Nashville-based duo Blue Honey. Their flawless blend of country and blues shines through on their sophomore full-length album, Sweet Rebellion, that they co-produced themselves. I got the chance to talk with this lovely couple about how they met, what inspired their duo name, the recording process of Sweet Rebellion and so much more. Keep reading to see what they had to say!
Why don’t you guys first tell me about how you first met?
Kassie: We had separate bands and played a lot of the same places and people just kept telling us that we should meet. Then we finally did at one of your [Troy’s] shows.
Troy: Yeah, just playing around at a lot of the same venues.
Kassie: We used the same drummer for a minute. I think that’s probably how it started. We’d hear from mutual friends, people at the venues saying that we had a lot of the same stage manner, jokes and stuff and that we should meet [laughs].
Troy: Blame it on the drummer.
What made you guys want to come together and do music together? I know you guys both just mentioned being in other bands before you met.
Troy: It’s kind of funny. We were dating and we actually told each other that we didn’t want to play music together. For me, I come from a family that had a family business and I know how hard that can be when you’re very close to somebody and have to work with them. So initially, we really shied away from it. But then we started sitting in on stage with each other here and there. We just started getting a great response, not just because we’re a couple but sonically for the sound.
Kassie: Yeah, for the harmonies and the chemistry on stage. We knew we were both on the same page in terms of carefully going about it and that we would be okay if it didn’t work out, that if we tried to do this duo and then one day decided, “Okay, this isn’t working. We’re going to kill each other.” So we just tried it. It’s been years [since] and it’s been convenient and easy.
Troy: When it works, it works. So I guess all of those thoughts beforehand were just “what ifs?” But it’s been great.
I love the name of your duo, Blue Honey. Where did that name come from?
Troy: Honestly, I wish we had a better story. We’ve got to make up a better story [laughs].
Kassie: We were delirious on a road trip.
Troy: I feel like that 10-12 hour mark, when you haven’t slept and you’re driving and you sort of get that delirious, slap-happy mode. So she’s trying to think of band names, band names, band names….
Kassie: ‘Cause we had been doing our duo just under our names. So every road trip we took, we’d try to think of band names. But we never came up with anything.
Troy: [So on that particular trip], she said Blue Honey and we’re laughing. But then it’s like, “Woah, wait. That’s kind of cool. Is that cool?” [laughs]
That’s a great story. Those trips always produce the best ideas and content. So I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. How would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
Kassie: I’d say that most of our songs have a deeper meaning than you would think. I’m really into lyrics and stuff, so we try to have some kind of message in our songs.
Troy: I guess everybody wants to have a message in their songs. But yeah, a little more of a deeper meaning. We’re not afraid to try and get deep with our listeners or fans. I’m not as much of the lyricist; Kassie is an excellent lyricist when we write. But we’re not afraid to go deep with the lyrics.
I want to talk about your new album, Sweet Rebellion. Where did the name for the album come from? Is that one of the names of the songs included or did you just come up with it separately?
Kassie: It’s one of the songs. We listened through the album once we were done with everything and tried to pick a song that would represent the album as a whole as far as the message of the song and the sound; the album touches on a lot of different sounds and the song “Sweet Rebellion” encompasses all of those in one song. So we just thought that was just a good one to choose to represent the album as a whole.
What was the recording process like for this album? Was this something that came together easily or did it take months/years to record?
Troy: I think there is a couple parts to that. Yes, it did take years for the writing process. We went into the studio last February; we recorded everything in our home studio and produced it all ourselves. We went in knowing we wanted to do a 4-5 song EP, because that’s really what everyone is doing. Everybody’s attention spans these days are super short [laughs], so that’s kind of the best way to keep people’s attention. As we were recording, we started looking back through our song catalog and we were like, “Man, there are so many songs that we want to put on here that we can’t just narrow it down to 4 or 5 songs.” So we made the call in maybe March of last year and said, “Let’s do a full album.” We picked 12 songs and said, “Let’s just hope people understand it and love it for what it is and listen through the whole thing like we want.” We did vinyls with this [project] and the great thing about the vinyl, besides it being sonically better, is that it just makes the listener put it on and listen through the whole thing and not skip track-to-track. So yeah, long story short, we finished this up around August, maybe October, of this past year. We were in the studio a long time, we felt, but at the end of it all…
Kassie: We had touring in between all of that, so if you put the actual studio time together, it was a pretty standard amount of time we spent on it I think. We didn’t come off the road to work on it so it ended up taking more months to finish up than we anticipated.
The current single from the album is “Can You See Me.” What’s the story behind the song?
Troy: It’s the story of a guy hiding….
Kassie: Stop [laughs].
Troy: And then he pops up and is like, “Can you see me?” [laughs]. No, that’s not it at all.
Kassie: I guess that stage that most people go through where they are looking for love and they don’t feel like love is looking for them, that it’s not fair, that they are on this endless journey just looking and looking and it’s like, “Love, can you see me? I’m right here. Find me.” So that was what sparked that song.
What was the songwriting process, for this song particularly but also in general? Do you guys tend to keep to yourselves for writing or do you like to collaborate with other artists/songwriters?
Kassie: I think we do both. We write for other singers and artists as well, but if we’re writing for us we are a little bit picky; the circle’s a little smaller with who we write with. It’s either just me and Troy or I could probably count on one hand who would call to write a Blue Honey project. But we do write and produce quite a bit for other artists. We’re just always creating, it just depends on the project I would say.
Troy: Yeah, for this one, a majority of the songs were co-written. There were a couple of outside songs, there’s a song called “I’m Out of It,” and there’s another one called “Easier Not To” that we didn’t have a part in writing at all. So we’re not afraid to do that, we’re not afraid to cut outside songs and we’re definitely not afraid to co-write with other people.
Kassie: Yeah, depends on the day.
Troy: [laughs] Yeah, depends on the day and how you feel that morning when you wake up I guess.
Speaking of songwriting, who are some of your musical influences when it comes songwriting?
Kassie: I’d say John Mayer is a big songwriter influence for both of us. We listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, but that would be more on the musical side.
Troy: Ryan Adams, we really like him a lot.
Kassie: Patty Griffin, lyrically. I’d say the top three are John Mayer, Ryan Adams and Fleetwood Mac.
What do you guys hope people take away from listening to this album and your music in general?
Troy: Honestly, I hope people can connect with the songs. There are even songs on there [that] go from love to losing love to war…
Kassie: To having family members off at war and what the home life is like [while they’re gone].
Troy: Yeah, so it’s like, no matter what the song, I feel people can still connect. This isn’t even, for us, about albums sales or anything. We really wanted to make an album where you can just connect an be able to relate in your life,
Kassie: Yeah, this is our first project we’ve done where it’s whole-heartedly us, musically, lyrically, everything. It’s our hearts on an album. It’s very scary, nerve-wracking and exciting to watch people’s reactions… We just hope people connect with it as much as we do.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Kassie: We’re getting ready to have twins and everyone keeps giving us Star Wars stuff because of my love for Star Wars, so I guess that’s the nerdiest thing about me.
Troy: I was going to say food [laughs]. But yeah, it’s definitely a crazy time with not only getting ready to have our first child, but our first children with it being twins. So yeah, nerding out about that and all of the Star Wars stuff we’re getting for them.