Female Friday: Honey County

"If you build it, they will come."

Written by Cillea Houghton
Female Friday: Honey County
Honey County; Photo credit: Jade Lorna

Though Honey County has taken on various iterations, the common thread between them is the desire to create honest music. Created by founding member Dani Rose in 2014, the past six years have seen the all-female group take on different shapes, beginning as the trio of Rose, Devon Jane and Katie Stump, the latter two ultimately departing the group. But through the changes, Rose has remained committed to bring the Honey County vision to life, welcoming in new member Sofie Lynn to officially make Honey County a duo.

In this edition of Female Friday, Rose and Lynn discuss how they formed as a duo, why they follow the motto of “if you build it, they will come” and what fans can expect in this new season of Honey County.  

How did you two come together to form this version of Honey County?

Dani Rose (DR): Honey County was a trio for several years. Bands change, for example, Gloriana used to be four people and then became a trio. And then there’s definitely been member changes within our generation of music, Runaway June with the departure of one of their girls and bringing in Natalie Stovall. So we’ve definitely seen it happen throughout our careers and I never thought that it would happen with Honey County. But over the years, people change, people want to do different things, and I think specifically for Honey County, touring is something that we have always done and we’ve been lucky enough and grateful to tour across the U.S. and overseas and do awesome military tours to Bahrain in the Middle East and Djibouti and Africa. For one of the girls, she didn’t want to tour anymore. The other girl, Devon, who’s one of my best friends, she is Katy Perry’s sideman. She plays guitar for her and realized ‘I want to be more on the backside of things, I want to creatively write. I want to play for people rather than be the artist’ and I can certainly respect those two things because we had done a lot together.

It was funny because when the two girls decided ‘this isn’t for us anymore,’ I got a message from Sofie, she slid into my DMs. She had seen the show that we were playing at the House of Blues and she said ‘I saw you last night at House of Blues, loved the setup, love the sound. I would love to write with y’all.’ And I looked at her Instagram page and I listened to her and I was like ‘she’s got a great voice; I really love this song that she wrote’ and it was almost like some sort of divine send was like ‘this girl is great for Honey County, you should audition her, you should meet her.’ So I said ‘we’d love to write with you, why don’t you send me some songs?’

She sent me some songs and I was like ‘let’s audition her for the band’ and she came over literally the next day, and she had barely learned all the songs, but I threw five songs at her and she came in very prepared and she sang and played and I was like, ‘okay, that’s great,’ check the boxes. We went out to a party with some of my friends and we had a really good time and it was like ‘alright, we enjoy each other. This is good, let’s start off.’

So we started doing shows and through 2020, things got really weird for everyone. So Sofie joined this band Honey County and we had all these festivals lined up on the books and all of a sudden everything was canceled. She only had a couple shows to play with us before everything shut down. 2020 has been a really difficult year for so many people and there are difficulties, but there’s also blessings in those, and we were given the opportunity to really hone in on a new direction of Honey County and a new sound and really hone in on the brand. Through that time, we decided Honey County really needs to be a duo because it’s so organic. The way that it is with the two of us, we work together really well. We spend almost every day together.

The brand has been consistently three women, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t play with other female players. We really love playing with other female players and love collaborating with female artists. So I think it’s important to note that just because we’re the duo doesn’t mean we’re not going to have female guitar players or a female drummer play with us. We’re going to continue on women power and running the world as we do.

You describe yourselves as “two empowered women running the show.” What makes you feel empowered and how do you define that in the context of Honey County?

DR: I certainly feel empowered in the fact that, I’ve said this all along, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ We built Honey County, we continue to build Honey County. I built it from when I first started the band in 2014 and it’s continued to be built by strong females. We keep on moving up and continuing to grab more accolades and do more things. I feel that even though there’s a lot of harp on the industry saying ‘radio isn’t playing female artists and radio isn’t doing this and that,’ I feel like we are going after things with a non-biased mind. We have played Stagecoach [Festival] several years as an independent artist and we’re a female band. We are playing all of these shows, we’re getting the opportunity to tour because people are reaching out because they’re probably looking at our social media and seeing ‘wow, they’re organic. They’re having a blast.’ It seems very natural because we really have a blast, we have fun.

To answer your empowered question, it all comes down to ‘if you build it, they will come’ and people are coming and reaching out to us to do certain shows and do these special events and in turn, we’re also reaching out to do these festivals and play these shows and we get the opportunity to play them because we deserve it. I think it’s empowering to know that you can create your future, you can create those opportunities.

Sofie Lynn (SL): Like Dani was saying, it doesn’t mean constantly going out and hounding people. It just means building it and writing the music that you feel good about and that you know is going to make you feel good and make other people feel good, and then eventually it all comes together.

DR: Sofie said it best. If you do what you love, people start to catch on the excitement and the acknowledgement, and just overall respect from industry members and friends, as we continue to grow and thrive in this industry, even other female artists and male artists, we all respect one another. That really empowers us to be the best that we can be and put out the best music and put out the best product.

What can we expect from this new season of Honey County?

SL: Come October, we’re going to be putting out a little bit more moody. We’re going to really hone in on the October, Halloween feel, so we’ll be putting out some new music in October. But also we’ve been writing and creating so much. I think we have definitely that California-cool feel still. Dani’s from Virginia and I spent a lot of time in Texas, so we have those three roots and a lot of influences that come in with the both of us. We’re really excited to put some new stuff out.

How do your roots in these different places impact your music?

SL: I think for me, it’s the places that I’ve been to, but also the experiences. I was in Texas, I was going to Baylor University and it was my first time where I was really on my own and figuring out myself away from my parents and away from the place that I had grown up all my life, which was Glendora, Calif. Being over there and making new friends and experiencing life in an apartment and just doing my thing over there, it was really cool, and figuring out what was important to me and going through heartbreak. I lost my grandma while I was over there and music was the only thing that was constant in my life. So I think that reflects the experiences of where we come from and where we go reflects in our music.

What do you want people to know about Honey County?

SL: I feel like the biggest thing for us is when we write our music, we like to come from a place of honesty and from a place that is relatable to not only us, but hopefully to many other people, because I feel like there’s a lot of things that we talk about that aren’t normally talked about in songs and we say it in a creative way, like “Cry Wolf.” I feel like they’re experiences that that we go through and want to share how we got through it and worked past those challenges with our listeners, and hopefully they can relate and use that music to help them as well.