What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring synthpop band HONNE.
In Japanese, HONNE (本音) means “true feelings.” It’s a perfect phrase to describe the British future retro synthpop group, who have been delivering smooth romantic vibes since their debut in 2014. Since then, James Hatcher (producer) and Andy Clutterbuck (singer, producer) have released several EPs and two full-length albums, the most recent being 2018’s Love Me / Love Me Not. HONNE also has several world tours under their belt with landmark festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella, and they have worked with some of the globe’s biggest stars in music. Last year, they co-wrote and produced “Seoul” by RM, a member of Korea’s mega boy band BTS.
Before they jetted off for an Asia tour, HONNE let The Verge rummage through their bags. They were, while surprisingly light, packed with essential travel items for people who are constantly hopping around the world from stage to stage. But also... there are swimming goggles? Here’s what the soulful duo has made sure to have on hand whenever they leave the house.
Let’s talk about your bag.
James: This bag has a lot of compartments, which is something I enjoy a lot for traveling. It’s by a little boutiquey brand called C6. So we got this top zip here with one of my most important items... earplugs! I use these when I fly, when I sleep, just constantly.
Are they a particular kind?
James: No, these were free in a hotel! They’re called the spa collection. Okay, my next item is some noise-canceling headphones. Should I get them out of the bag?
Yes, definitely. What brand are they?
James: Sennheiser. Even if I’m not listening to music, I might put them on. I use them to stop the noise on a plane. Next, is one of the most important items; it is a portable phone charger. This is by RAVPower. You can charge your iPhone 16 times with that bad boy.
16! Wow. That’s great.
James: Okay, the next item is a pair of glasses because my eyes aren’t very good. If I’m very tired and I’m at the airport and I need to see stuff, I need them. They’re by a London brand called Cubitts.
Why do you have goggles?
James: You don’t want to get caught off guard, do you?
James: Without your shorts and goggles.
Do you swim a lot?
Andy: He doesn’t mind getting caught without his shorts! [Laughs]
James: Oh whoops I forgot my shorts! Yeah, so just the goggles. What else do I have? I travel with multiple pairs of earphones and headphones for the plane. So, I’ve got some generic in-ears.
What do you use these for, in particular?
James: Well, actually, I had some custom-molded ones, but I lost them. So I’m using these for the next couple of weeks until the next ones come in. But, I also use them for when you have the plug on the plane. The one on the seat in the handle thing. You can’t use Bluetooth headphones with that, so I have to have a pair with a jack. Actually, I travel with one more pair of Bluetooth headphones as well...
James: It’s a bit ridiculous.
Alright so, if you could talk about the backpack itself?
Andy: This was a birthday present, actually, from our friends here at Atlantic Records. They sent it over in the post. I guess it’s an American brand. I don’t really know... it says “STATE Give Back Pack.” I enjoy it because, like James, there are lots of compartments... [Quietly] I can hear my knees cracking.
Aw, there they go!
Andy: Yeah, there they go. So, in this bag, you’ve got the main compartment... good for storing lots of stuff. And you’ve got this front compartment here, and things for your pens.
How much do you guys travel?
Andy: I dunno. In 2017 it was like, six months.
James: Last year, it was probably like four or five.
Andy: So it’s quite important to be able to be organized when going through the airport. You don’t want zips breaking if you have a shoddy bag!
Alright so let’s see what you’ve got...
Andy: I mean, Paracetamol. Do we want to use that? Okay, let’s get started then, shall we? So basically, I’ve got a bag of essential things.
That’s a very nice little pouch.
Andy: It’s quite good isn’t it? It’s from The White Company. This has got earplugs, an eye mask, a little charger for the cable when you’re in your seat on the airplane. And there’s headphones, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. I don’t use that, but it’s in there. There are some little socks and a love letter from my girlfriend.
That’s awesome. Can I take some of these things out?
Andy: You can, of course. Those earplugs are good. You can mold them however you want. And next, a camera. This is a Fujifilm XT10. It’s a digital SLR, and it’s just great because we’re always away.
What do you mostly do with the pictures?
Andy: We do it for our socials. Like for Instagram and Facebook. But I have so many photos from the last two years, I’m planning on doing a stop motion just to roll through the whole time.
Andy: But my computer can’t handle it so it might never ever happen. [Laughs] This one’s exciting for me. It’s a Nintendo Switch. I bought it purely for traveling. I play FIFA. I really tried hard to buy one the evening before we left, but they only had the colorful Joy-Con.
[Connects the Joy-Con to Nintendo Switch] Oh no I broke it!
Andy: Oh, God! [Laughs] What the heck! It’s jammed. Oh, it’s okay. It just clicked back on.
Andy: Have you got these? [Holds up Smint package]
I haven’t seen those.
Andy: One of the best mints around. Actually... definitely not... but really handy. [Laughs]
James: Good dispenser.
The best in dispensing technology.
Andy: And here, I have some sunglasses from a brand called Cutler and Gross.
James: Very nice!
Andy: Very nice, just given them a good clean for you.
James: Very swanky shop, that one!
Andy: What else... Oh yeah, this is good. A HONNE all areas access pass! You can get anywhere with that thing!
James: On the previous tour, we’ve totally changed the pass, which is imminent again in case anyone’s thinking of taking a picture of this.
Oh yeah, to reproduce it.
James: Apparently that’s like a real problem for some bands. They have to like sign something to say they won’t post any images. Our tour manager said one tour he was on, a person in the band put a picture of themselves up, someone printed it out, made a copy of the pass, managed to get backstage and got onstage with the band.
I can see how that would be really easy because it’s flat.
James: Yeah. And as soon as you put anything in like a laminate, it’s like, this is real.
Like a clipboard. Somebody has a clipboard and confidence, they can get in anywhere.
Andy: True! Last but not least is this pen. This pen is from Japan, from a shop called LOFT. It’s like, a department store of some sort.
James: Is that the place we went to last time? With the top floor that has loads of gifts in it and really arty stuff?
Andy: Yeah. And this pen is cool because it’s the first felt-tip pen that you can write with, and then you can just rub it out.
Oooh! Erasable. That’s magic! Do you have a journal?
Andy: No. I did, but actually, it’s not in here. I’ve got one by Moleskine, but I don’t have it with me, I’m afraid. So that’s about it.
Chargers, or any other things that you… ?
Andy: Heck yeah. In this pouch. And a converter. A Sharpie. And... [looks surprised] What’s in here? Wow. I’ve got a torch.
James: Why are you carrying a torch around with you? What!
You never know! What if there’s a blackout?
James: Is that your USB thing, that one? [Points to flat card]
Was that a promo thing?
Andy: We were given it in South Korea, so I don’t know too much about it. It’s from a photo shop called Espionage.
Andy: Cheers, man. How’s that? That good?
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