When Honey Ryder were among the artists rumoured to be recording the latest James Bond theme, it wasn’t just because of their Dr.No-inspired name. Or the fact that one of the duo, Martyn Shone, attended the same school as Daniel Craig. Honey Ryder’s sumptuous, cinematic music could easily grace a blockbuster. And now, it does.
Even before the release of their debut album, Rising Up, London-based Honey Ryder found a huge fanbase on YouTube when several of their songs were used to soundtrack film trailers – including bold, broody, first single ‘Numb’ on edited highlights of Casino Royale and new Bond movie Quantum Of Solace, and beautiful, orchestral ballad ‘Choices’ on a montage of Spiderman clips.
“One of the Bond trailers with ‘Numb’ has had over 4 million hits,” says Shone. “It’s amazing, but it wasn’t our idea. One of our fans edited the film clips to fit the songs and people just went crazy for them.”
Honey Ryder’s versatility means their music made its official, big screen debut in 2008, when Years From Now, a pretty, uplifting folk-pop track from ‘Rising Up’, appeared on a Miley Cyrus movie. Singer Lindsay O’Mahony, however, was equally excited at hearing ‘Numb’ recently on Emmerdale and EastEnders, and ‘Fly Away’ on Hollyoaks.
With established producers and mixers at the helm, ‘Rising Up’ was a mainstream pop/rock album with huge potential from the start. This was further enhanced by the intricate fusion of Martyn’s background in rock bands and Lindsay’s female singer/songwriter roots.
The pair’s relationship began when former MTV employee Lindsay met then investment banker and part- time session guitarist Martyn through mutual friends and decided to try writing together. They took their first batch of demos to hit producers Goldust who liked their folky pop rock twang and slight country influences, and immediately started working on the Honey Ryder sound.
From the videos to the music to how the band is marketed, all decisions on Honey Ryder are made by Honey Ryder and their close-knit team. Thanks to Martyn’s business background the duo have broken new ground by funding themselves through an innovative shares scheme. Having secured Enterprise Initiative Scheme (EIS) status on the strength of their songs, they sold a portion of Honey Ryder’s future profits through the sale of shares.
“Several British film companies have used a similar model,” explains Martyn. “It took us ages to write the business plan, but it was well worth it. We looked at bands like Radiohead, who are a big inspiration, and realized the best way forward was to take a different road than signing to a traditional label. The industry is changing. No-one knows for sure how the future will look, but we like the idea of using our own skills to sell our own music. We don’t just get complete creative control, we get to say how the money is spent.”
The scheme so impressed former EMI boss Eric Nicoli that he not only became an investor, but the band’s unofficial mentor. “He thought the scheme was brilliant,” says Martyn. “Then he heard the music. He’s so passionate about it, he plays it to everyone – even his young kids love it.”
The music wasn’t just appreciated by Eric Nicoli and his kids though. The band played to over 250,000 people across 50 live dates, taking in venues including the Royal Albert Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall, and performed in front of 10 million viewers on BBC TV for Children in Need alongside The Script and Enya.
Rising Up spawned chart hits for Numb and Fly Away, with Choices and Love In Time being play-listed tracks for Radio 2 proving that it wasn’t just Michael Bolton and Will Young fans that loved them when Honey Ryder supported them on tour. Territories as far afield as Canada, Asia, and the Middle East have picked the band up for record deals.
A year on and Honey Ryder are midway through recording their sophomore album, working title ‘Beautiful Horizon’, due for release in 2011. Lindsay and Martyn take main songwriting credits again whilst working alongside various top writers from Nashville, UK and Canada.
The band escaped to Thailand for 2 months to commence work on the new album, with producer Jon O’Mahony and recording engineer Bob Kraushaar at the helm. “We felt we needed a break from back to back touring and promo, and when Jon mentioned that he knew a guy who had just built a recording studio in Thailand and suggested we all go there, we jumped at the chance”, explains Martyn. “With the main structure of the songs already written, we then spent 3 weeks arranging and working out parts, and then 3 weeks at Karma Studios putting the main elements of the new songs down. It was the most incredible experience and we feel very privileged that we were given the chance to do it.” Lucky then for Honey Ryder that studio owner and former Sony head honcho Chris Craker offered them the studio for free, as he loved their music so much.
A chance encounter with Nashville legend Paul Worley, who is a huge Honey Ryder fan, also led to the band being asked to write for hit US group Lady Antebellum. A recent trip Stateside saw Honey Ryder working with the country’s upper echelon of songwriters, including Tom Douglas, Blair Daly, Tommy Lee James and Rivers Rutherford.
The band have also cemented their relationship with long term collaborator Jason Huxley (guitar and vocals) who now becomes a fully fledged group member, making the band officially a trio whilst keeping the rest of the Honey Ryder formula intact.
Honey Ryder promise to deliver more uplifting tracks to their fast-growing fanbase – including the likes of Annie Lennox, Terry Wogan and Janice Long. Wogan has called Honey Ryder “mean, moody & magnificent” and with those 3 M’s Honey Ryder continue to craft their brand of radio friendly rock/pop in their forthcoming album.