5 Lbs. of ROCK
Interview by Sheila Dianne Jackson
It’s been so much fun to keep up with black women in rock, and especially with Carol “Honeychild” Coleman! I love the boldness and courage in her artistry. The Kentucky-born vocalist and guitarist has been performing her own brand of rock for 21 years. Her first record was with Badawi, the Bedouin Soundclash, featuring Honeychild. Like many black women in rock, Honeychild performs at venues across the globe, and can be seen and heard this fall in the UK, Germany, France and Austria touring with Noiseaux, and will be billed under her “new moniker DEM (AKA Honeychild Coleman).”
So you know the drill….5 questions, 5 unedited responses (except for grammar). Without further adieu……
SHEILA: How would you describe your particular brand of rock?
HC: Honeychild Coleman “avant – pop”
SHEILA: You have been described by others as well, as ‘avante guarde’ – when it comes to your music and your style. And I agree. Your photos always have an editorial edge, and your style is uniquely Honeychild. Have you always expressed your Self or did you grow into the courage to ‘do you’?
HC: Thank you! I’ve been expressing myself through fashion pretty much ever since my parents started allowing me to choose my own clothing and dress myself, roughly around 4th grade / age 10. It was a bit of an obsession right through my senior year of high school and I would often iron and organize outfits for the entire week each Sunday and hang them in my closet in order. My mother would make fun of me because midway through the week, sure enough, I had come up with some different outfits that were not in “the wardrobe plan”.
I had been excelling and winning awards in drawing and painting since 2nd grade. But once, late night my Mom showed me Diana Ross, in “Mahoghany,” and I realized I liked to design clothes. I studied accessory design in college and had my own hat company for a while. But eventually music took over. I still make some things for myself – mostly for stage. I’ve designed neckties for my bandmates to wear and most recently t-shirts for my band, Bachslider.
SHEILA: Have you always performed rock music or did you begin in another genre? photo by paperboxnyc.com
HC: The first band I sang in was a disco cover band called The Partridge Heads. Shortly after that, I started learning guitar and playing around with drum machine. I performed mainly in the anti-folk poetry scene in the beginning, even as a an electric guitarist.
In the early ’90’s, I didn’t have a band behind me when I tried to play gigs in the Bay Area and San Francisco, so bookers didn’t quite get what I was doing. The folks and acoustic scene was too purist to tolerate a drum machine (or distortion) as well, so I didn’t feel there as a place for me to play live music. In the Summer of ’93 I moved back to New York on a whim and started playing in the subway. Busking in the subway, I built a small following and met musicians whom I would later record with and form bands and long lasting community ties.
SHEILA: What did it mean to you for your music to be featured in the critically-acclaimed, Pariah?
HC: I was extremely moved upon the discovery of how and where my music was placed in the film. This project felt so timely and real and it was an honor to be chosen as an artist scoring the soundtrack to such a powerful story. It would have been easy (and typical) for the director to choose trendy or popular music, but what Dee Rees did us quite genius – as we are all indie and underground artists, co-existing within the mainstream. Very parallel conditions to the protagonist, Alike.
SHEILA: Tell us about your new single, “Youth’s Eternal.”
HC: “Youths Eternal” is a song that came to me after writing a novel that moves back and forth in time, with many chapters reflecting Old New York and my art punk days of hanging out all day in Washington Square Park, sketching people and listening to their stories, and the constant movement that can sometimes give New York a revolving door feeling.