INTERVIEW: Honey McKenna Discusses Producing Her First Ever Soundtrack For The Audio Drama ‘Bliss’!

Upcoming singer-songwriter, DJ, & producer Honey McKenna, continues to share her unique musical artistry with listeners across the globe with a variety of lyrically tantalizing & vocally compelling compositions. 

Now, Honey is embarking on an exciting new chapter of her ever-evolving musical journey by producing/composing her first ever soundtrack for the feature-length audio drama ‘Bliss’ by British production company Theatrephonic

Written by Scott Peacock & directed/adapted for radio by Emmeline Braefield, this latest drama will leave listeners experiencing an extreme variation of emotions. 

Honey has kindly taken the time to chat with Fierce & Fabulous Revolution regarding the journey undertaken to create her first ever soundtrack & what it was like to be involved in this audio drama. You can find the full interview below.

Hey Honey, thank you so much for this interview, can you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself?

Honey: Thank you so much for interviewing me! My name is Honey, I’m a singer, producer and DJ from South Wales, currently based near Hereford. 

How would you currently describe your musical style?

Honey: Right now I’ve been listening to some more diverse genres & more “experimental” pop music & I think that’s impacting the music I want to make! I’m obsessed with Rosalia’s album Motomami at the moment, I love a band called audiobooks at the moment, an artist called Alice Longyu Gao is making really cool, interesting pop at the minute. 

You recently composed the soundtrack for the feature-length audio drama ‘Bliss’, in which you also play the role of Katy. How did the idea for you to create the soundtrack come together?

Honey: Basically, I just outright asked my friend Emmeline, who directed it, if she was going to use any music in it, and if not, could I put something together! I’d actually been thinking about how much I wanted to score something not long before we started recording the dialogue, so it was really serendipitous!

What are some of the main influences & inspirations you used while composing the soundtrack?

Honey: I did listen to a lot of other soundtracks just to see how I could transfer my own “pop” kind of thing to a more fluid, ambient style suitable for a soundtrack. One of my favourite soundtracks of all time is the Orphan Black OST by Trevor Yuile, I loved how he mixed lots of heavily processed electronic noises with organic, almost Foley-like sound effects and traditional instrumentation. Other soundtracks I really love include what Tom Raybould did for The Machine (which people might know from it being sampled in The Hills by The Weeknd), obviously, everything Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross have done, especially the Gone Girl soundtrack, and the Prima Facie soundtrack by Self Esteem is just unreal.

The lead single from the soundtrack is “Power”, which sounds amazing. What did it feel like to perform this track?

Honey: Very different! I tend to use the music I produce myself as a kind of diary lyrically, it’s almost always deeply personal, and while I definitely think I brought some of myself into the track it was really from Katy’s perspective, or what Emmeline and I had imagined her perspective might’ve been! In the Q&A with the writer Scott Peacock & the cast (available on the Theatrephonic Patreon), we discussed her character a bit too. Spoilers ahead – but in ‘Bliss’ Katy is kind of a perfect love interest, and it’s only with a twist right at the end that you find out there’s actually more to her. Basically, I liked the idea of writing a villain song – what if Padme had killed Anakin and become Darth Vader? Very much that vibe!

How did it feel composing your first ever soundtrack?

Honey: Intense, but I found a few ways to help myself – a lot of the tracks use the same chord progressions, the same leitmotifs & melodies, and I basically had a folder with a few midi files that I’d initially composed & re-used & added to as I went along! The hard bit was syncing the music to the dialogue and making sure it wasn’t overwhelming the action. There’s a great plugin called LABS by Spitfire Audio and most of the digital instruments I used were from that, very cool tool with lots of weird, quirky sounds. It was a creative challenge for sure, but I did enjoy finding all the different ways I could make the same chords sound romantic, dramatic, or nightmarish, depending on what “instrument” I used, the tempo, the overlaying melody – there are a lot of atonal, deliberately clashing harmonies throughout this soundtrack! I also wanted to balance the “organic” noises with synths & processed sounds, to kind of echo how (spoiler) Bliss kind of straddles two worlds, this utopian, artificial reality and then the real world, which is messier but tangible & more intense.

I briefly mentioned earlier that you are also playing Katy in the audio drama. What was it like to portray the character of ‘Katy’?

Honey: As I mentioned, there’s a lot more to Katy than it seems at first, and I had to read the whole thing through til the end to see that because initially I didn’t necessarily like the idea of just playing this “perfect woman”, but that’s also kind of the point of her character – she is the perfect girl for the main character of Jack, but I liked the idea of playing someone who is themselves, playing a role. There’s a lot you can infer about Katy, especially if you listen back to Bliss again after your first time round! Another spoiler, but, as I also provide the voice of the AI, as we were recording I put it to Emme and Scott, who thankfully both indulged my headcanon that maybe Katy and the AI are actually one and the same, at least in terms of voice – perhaps Katy is the one who gave her voice to the AI, and so there are aspects of her character in it in places. VERY GLaDOS & Caroline! 

How would you describe the audio drama to someone who was thinking about checking it out?

Honey: Very Black Mirror, very Twilight Zone – basically it’s a two-part sci-fi drama, you can listen to the whole thing in just over an hour, it’s incredibly well made & it may well make you think about things like social media & our digital identities 😉 Scott the writer is a very cool guy, I believe most of the script was speech-to-text dictated, and as such, it took quite a while to write. It’s nice to think his writing debut has been received so well, and I’m very grateful that I was asked to be involved by Emme the director and embraced as Katy by Scott himself!

Finally, is there a message that you would like to share with the readers of Fierce & Fabulous Revolution?

Honey: This literally only came about from me being straightforward and asking if I could do it. There are other things I’ve only done this year because I’ve gotten over myself and trusted in the concrete and just gone for it. Good things come to those who ask, I think!

You can check out the full soundtrack (Including the lead single “Power”) on Spotify below & can find the audio drama “Bliss” by clicking here.

Honey McKenna: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.

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