Name: Stina Marie Claire aka Honeyblood aka Stina Tweeddale
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Nationality: Scottish
Current release: Stina Marie Claire's A Souvenir of a Terrible Year is out via her very own label ICEBLINK LUCK.

If you enjoyed this interview with Stina Marie Claire and would like to find out more about the project, head over to her Honeyblood accounts on Instagram, Soundcloud, and Facebook. She also has an official homepage.

Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

I draw inspiration from it all; it could be a conversation I have with a friend or my mother; a line from a book or a movie; even an advert at a bus stop could be the spark. In short, I'm a sensitive, creative sponge!

I find that I now search out inspiration rather than wait for it to hit me. I’ve been writing from a much more vulnerable place recently and have become self-reflective in my lyrical content. I have really leaned into this during the creation of A Souvenir of a Terrible Year.

Especially songs like 'The Human Condition and 'Souvenir'; they are defiantly vulnerable with intent.

I've written a song about a dream; 'She's A Nightmare' is about my experience with recurring night-terrors.

Others are based on fiction; 'Choker' is inspired by the short story 'The Bloody Chamber' by Angela Carter. It’s much easier to write a lyric about a fictitious character than it is to write about the stark truths in your own life. I’m not really sure what the ratio is between invented and truth-telling in my work. Sometimes I realise months or even years later that a lyric I thought was fictitious turned out to be reflective all along.

For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

When I begin, I hardly know where I am going to end up. Currently, I am writing a lot on bass guitar and using specific synth sounds that I’m into. I'll be obsessing over something that gives my inspiration sonically, and then I will try and capture that emotion or attitude within my own music.

I like to change my primary instrument regularly to make sure I'm not getting stuck in my older, more comfortable ways.

Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?

I don’t really create 'early versions' nowadays. There are very few moments nowadays where I will sit down with an acoustic guitar and bash out an entire song, but they do happen - I wrote most of my first album this way - a song called 'Bud' in particular.

Since writing my second record, I have the arrangement and instrumentation fully mapped out and ready to go before anyone hears it.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

I require coffee, that’s about it. I usually create at night. The new Honeyblood album I’m making has been a nocturnal venture.

I can’t write when other people are around; I have a terrible attention span. So, I usually find that the song gets written between 5pm and 2am. This was terrible when I was living with friends during lockdown - I was so glad to have my studio to escape to so I could write through the night and not disturb anyone!

What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?

I keep journals everywhere - I have about 5 on the go at one time. I leave them in handbags or places around the house so I always have one near to me when I feel like writing something down. I also keep a tab open on my phone for quick editing.

I had the line 'a witch if I float, dammed if I don't' (from 'Babes Never Die') for 4 years before I sat down to write. I also had the title for 1 year before I even dreamt up making it into a song. I collect ideas to flesh out when it feels like the right time, and that could literally be years!

When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?

They usually grow out of very separate Petri dishes. In fact, it can be challenging to make the puzzle pieces fit together. In many instances, you need to compromise between the two to find a place where both ideas can live in harmony. That is why I believe in editing so much.

I spend a lot of my time editing melodies to be 'hooky', and that means manipulating lyrics to adhere to that rule. But, it's also gotta make sense, have a narrative and evoke that special feeling! It's a magic mix to get it all living and breathing together in one body.

'The Tarantella' was written as a poem and then set to music as an entire piece of writing; that's pretty unusual for me. Others like 'Ready For The Magic' started with a melody hook for the chorus and then the lyric was written to fit into that specific melodic space.

What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?

The purpose of the lyric is to connect. There is no greater feeling than having someone tell you that a certain line in a song really means something to them. It transports them to another place, it's the soundtrack to memory and lives a life inside their unique experience. They give it meaning within their own personal narrative. I think that is the test of a great lyric.

There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?

I am happiest when I am songwriting. My joy comes from writing the hooks. I don't care so much about clever technicalities, or how interesting a certain musical part is; although these things are undeniably fun. I care about the earworm.

So, if I feel like I've gotten there with a song, I feel that is a triumph - a euphoric state of being!

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?

I am so here for the understated. I really believe that editing is the final hurdle to a finished song. So, instead of heading towards infinite additions, I spend time thinking 'what can this do without?' I usually end up taking out harmonies, or guitar parts or cutting out things that feel without purpose.

However, I am always up for that last-minute eureka moment in the recording studio and it's why I choose my band and producer very carefully - their input could make the song in the end!

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?

I make sure to continuously fine-tune right up until the song goes to mastering. It is so important to cut the fat and not get bogged down or attached to ideas. Throw away anything that doesn't serve the song - less is always more!

In pop, the melody is the song and the purpose of everything else should support that. I remember that rule when I write for my projects.

What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?

Production is something I am now heavily involved in for all my works.

I self-produced the last release for Honeyblood ('Bubble Gun' and 'You're Standing On My Neck') and entirely created the Stina Marie Claire EP myself. I strongly believe in the art of collaboration, but I will always have the strongest vision for my work.

I love to learn about production and think it's something I will always continue to find fascinating. When it comes to mixing, I have always believed that it could make or break the song in the end. It is an essential part of capturing the feeling of the song; as is the role of mastering.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?

I don't think I would call it emptiness, it's certainly not the feeling I have. I never listen to my work when it's out, it actually gives me the creeps to hear myself on the radio. I get real satisfaction when I create something that has pushed my artistic boundaries. If people like it that is a bonus but it is never the reason I write the song in the first place.

How do I jump-start back into the game? I don't think I ever turn it off at this point, I just continue to write until I hit something that really resonates and then becomes the basis of my next body of work.