Honey Beard
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Honey Beard

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Established on Jan, 2012
Duo Pop Synth




"15 Very Cool Bands To See Live In 2018"

Honey Beard’s sweet debut album is Dreamless Sleep. It’s anchored by the track “Humming Bird.” The Toronto-based Honey Beard is comprised of Gary J. Conlon and Tom Bell. The duo creates sleek, urbane electronic pop music. They’re dark, and edgy, but accessible and not afraid to lay down a catchy beat.

Honey Beard was clearly raised on Depeche Mode—then again, aren’t we all? HB’s live shows are furious affairs that will leave you wanting more. - Click It Ticket

"I Like This: Honey Beard"

March 19th 2017
Alan Cross

"Take a listen to Honey Beard, a Toronto-based electronic duo who sound like MGMT had they been British and weaned on early 80s techno-pop. Their debut album, Dreamless Sleep, is filled with dark synth-pop and is now available through iTunes. Check out the darkness on the video for “Hummingbird.” - Alan Cross

"Live Show Tweet"

"Seeing @honeybeardband play #DreamlessSleep live gives me a lot of hope for the future not just for electronic music, but music in general" - Oggie James - 96.9 Radio Humber


Honey Beard
Dreamless Sleep

Toronto-based electronic duo Honey Beard’s debut full-length album, Dreamless Sleep, dropped mid-March. It follows their more experimental 2015 debut EP, Honey Beard.

Described as “dark synth-pop at its best,” the album is a moody, synth-pop electronica with smooth hooks, vocals that recall Depeche Mode, and excellence in production. It presents as a strong thematic album, something that is often lost with electronic releases that tend to be very track focused.

Founded in 2014, Honey Beard is comprised expat-Irishman, lyricist Gary J. Conlon (vocals/synth), and Montreal native Tom Bell (guitar/synth), who met in 2008 while playing amateur soccer (football). Their background in rock and alt folk has merged their guitar playing with the production and synthesized keyboard sounds of Honey Beard. The duo has performed around Toronto and Montreal clubs. It’s music that they define as “music that makes you think, feel and dance”.

“It’s the statement we want to make to the world, and it’s not the happiest of statements. It kind of taps into that sort of existential anxiety, the sort of dread, that nihilistic view of life. We try to disguise it with happy sounds and beats, which I think makes for a nice blend” says Conlon. Honey Beard has apparently even won over punk crowds.

The album opens up with tracks that tell a story from a night of debauchery (“Dreamless Sleep” and “Celestial Bodies”), to “Hummingbird” which sings about waking up to feelings of dread and self-loathing. Ah, the joy of a hangover. The synth tracks, full of arpeggiated goodness, encapsulate the spacey, surreal dance floor/club experience that takes you high and can devastate you the next morning. These tracks are grounded by the driving keyboard bass of “This Might Be Something” with thematic higher octave automated flourishes. The album ends on a light, floating track “Momento Mori”. Beautiful from start to finish.

Check them out live April 20, 2017 at Nocturne in Toronto, and April 29, 2017 at M Bar in Montreal or download their album via their website below. - Spill Magazine

"7.5/10 Honey Beard - Dreamless Sleep Album Review"

Honey Beard — Dreamless Sleep
April 5, 2017 Rob Coles Albums, Electronica


Toronto-based duo Honey Beard’s debut full-length album Dreamless Sleep combines 80s new wave synth-pop with darkly moody vocals. Formed in 2014, Honey Beard consists of Irish expat Gary J. Conlon on vocals and synths, and Montreal native Tom Bell on synths and guitar. Normally I’m skeptical of albums that aren’t released by a label (since it’s always good to have a second, or third, set of ears listen to the recording), but Dreamless Sleep has a mature sound and is quite well produced.

The title track “Dreamless Sleep” opens the album with a warm, driving, cinematic synth riff. The sci-fi soundtrack continues in “Celestial Bodies,” but this time an upbeat tempo and very catchy melody combine for an atmosphere that, according to the band, is more “about partying and general debauchery” than the other tracks on the album.

Although dreamy synth melodies are the backbone of Honey Beard’s sound, it’s the moody and melancholic lyrics, which they say are inspired by Jim Morrison’s dark poetry, that stand out on the album. It’s a depressingly bleak style, but in the tradition of writers from Conlon’s homeland, it’s also poetic and deep. Conlon, like Morrison, sings about dark themes such as death, but his nihilism is disguised with what the band calls “happy sounds and beats.” While most dance music producers make music that’s annoyingly positive, Honey Beard’s dark, atmospheric dance music is more in the vein of early-80s British electro-pop like Depeche Mode.

Retro 80s dance music has, of course, had more than one revival, and contemporary bands like Montreal’s Essaie Pas borrowed extensively from Kraftwork’s dystopian, computer-driven world. Dreamless Sleep is more soulful though, again because of Conlon’s unique lyrics and vocal style. My pick of the album is the driving, guitar-heavy “Through the Dancefloor.” It’s appropriately titled as it’s the most dance-floor-friendly track on the album thanks to an orchestral, early techno beat, and powerfully moody vocals that recall the late, great Ian Curtis.

Dreamless Sleep will no doubt appeal to the melancholic post-raver crowd, but the beats were often too down-tempo and built very slowly. On most tracks I felt like I was waiting in vain for a peak, banging moment. I’m reminded of Underworld’s classic “Born Slippy,” a dark techno number that, like much of Dreamless Sleep, begins with a simple synth rhythm. Underworld’s tune starts slow, but builds to a relentlessly pounding beat that’s missing in Dreamless Sleep. Underworld, obviously, made a different style of dance music than Honey Beard, but listening to Dreamless Sleep I still felt teased by a beat that never came. - Bucket List Music Reviews

"There’s a Thousand Million Things to love about Honey Beard"

There’s a Thousand Million Things to love about Honey Beard
Posted on June 28, 2016 by Stephanie Hughes // 0 Comments
In addition to being an interesting name, Honey Beard is also an interesting Irish/Canadian band that specializes in electronic dark-pop music. The duo cites their early influences to bands like Depeche Mode and The Doors, which informs the […]. The Toronto-based duo recently graced the city with their album Thousand Million Things (2016).

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 3.13.35 PMRight from the get-go, we’re hit with a heavy electronic beat that serves as the undertone for the psych-pop vocals that accompany this spacey style. As soon as it started, I decided that “Stretch in the Evening” was my favorite song. Each song starts to sound like a variation of the other with the same 8-bit theme running through the album. Anyone who’s into the style will enjoy the repetition, but for those who crave a little more variety within an album and wants to hear an artist flex their other creative tastes – you’ll have to wait for the next album.

I never really got the impression that they were directly inspired by The Doors, but maybe thematically, they resemble them in a sort of way. There’s a darkness to their music, but it’s at no point threatening. If anything, the music is relaxing. If you liked the Drive (2011) soundtrack, then odds are, you’ll probably get a kick out of this neon-infused ‘80s-reminiscent synth pop album.

There’s a thousand million things to like about Honey Beard, so make sure you check out what they’re up to on their official website. Also listen to their music on their Soundcloud page. Get up-to-the-minute details through their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @honeybeardband. - Razmataz Mag - Stephanie Hughes

"Honey Beard - Dreamless Sleep - Review"

Review – Honey Beard

March 17, 2017 Gerrod Harris
Album: Dreamless Sleep
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Genre: Electronic

Toronto, Ontario based electronic visionaries Honey Beard have released their full length debut album, Dreamless Sleep. The duo, made up of vocalist and synth player Gary J. Conlon and guitarist and synth player Tom Bell have successfully taken today’s electronic music and given it a retro 1980’s flair!

To start the record, Honey Beard dive into the mellow title track, “Dreamless Sleep”, a track which transports the listener right to the centre of what Honey Beard is about: catchy hooks, solid beats, melodic vocal structures, and a fun and vintage 80’s vibe. Conlon has a very soft voice, adding a welcomed human touch to what is almost completely a digital project. Similarly, Bell’s guitar has a similar vibe on tracks like “Humming Bird” and “Through the Dance Floor” where the synth driven hook is supported by an interesting and rhythmic guitar line. The juxtaposition of modernity and retro; electronic and human blend together organically in a manner which is often aimed for, but rarely achieved. The best example of this lies in the closing track, “Momento Mori”, a softer ballad featuring multiple synth lines which weave in and out from each other, as the song builds in intensity until it has reached a climax of what can best be described as electronic euphoria, as if the tension between man and machine has reached a state of rest; a place of peace.

Part of Dreamless Sleep’s success is based around its foundations in classic electronic music. Very much, songs of the likes of “Through The Dance Floor”, “Robot Heart”, and “This Might Be Something” are reminiscent of British synth pop of the 1980’s, similar to artists like Depeche Mode, Eurhythmics, and The Human League. When Honey Beard embraces this influence, it puts them at their greatest; the fusion of modern recording techniques and textures along with the moody and electronic styling of the past makes for an interesting listen. It is when Honey Beard try to hide this under straight forward club beats of today along with filtering Conlon’s voice through obnoxious auto tune that they are at their worst. For the case of Dreamless Sleep, this only occurs once, giving the ten track album only one weak song: “The Stream”.

Honey Beard has delivered a very fun album. Dreamless Sleep is a record in which will spark as much nostalgia as it will excitement for the future of electronic music. With tracks like “Momento Mori”, “Through the Dance Floor”, and “Robot Heart”, it is easy to see that Honey Beard have the makings for an explosive debut record that could push them to be leaders of a growing underground scene before bursting out to the rest of the public. It is clear with Dreamless Sleep that the 1980’s have aged gracefully, and rather than fall flat as a dated grasp at a past life, Honey Beard have demonstrated that perhaps the 80’s never truly left; remaining as an ever present earworm on better dressed bodies. - Canadian Beats

"Five Questions With… Honey Beard"

On their debut full-length album, Dreamless Sleep (released March 17), Toronto-based electronic duo Honey Beard take the best elements of early ‘80s British synth-pop and combine it with modern psychedelic showmanship. As a follow-up to their 2015 EP, Thousand Million Things, the new album further explores a uncompromisingly dark worldview, disguised in beats and sonic flair aimed directly at the dance floor.

Comprised of two veteran musicians, expatriate Irishman Gary J. “Gaz” Conlon (vocals/synth) and Montreal native Tom Bell (guitar/synth), Honey Beard is still a relatively new project for the pair, who met while playing in the same amateur Australian Rules Football league.

Both came from the rock and folk worlds, but began experimenting with electronica out of a shared love of Nietzsche, Jim Morrison and early Depeche Mode. Honey Beard has now established a presence on the Toronto club scene, and Dreamless Sleep greatly expands on their basic philosophy to make music that makes you think, feel and dance.

It’s all there on the album’s first single, “Hummingbird,” which finds Conlon, as both lyricist and singer, tapping into the haunting poetry of his Irish heritage, something that has helped the duo connect with punk audiences as well. The song’s video, shot in northern Ontario, adds an even icier edge to the music, and clearly demonstrates that Honey Beard is far from a typical synth-pop band.

Dreamless Sleep is available on iTunes and Google Play, and for more info go to honeybeardband.com.

What sorts of things did you do differently on Dreamless Sleep compared to your EP?

[Conlon] Our approach to the album was very different to the EP. Our knowledge of creating electronic music has improved significantly so we were able to pack a lot more scope into the songs sound-wise. Also, the EP is a perfect reflection of where our music and sound was at that time, but now I think it has matured and is a lot deeper after all the live shows we’ve done. Touring has been a great way to revise how a song feels, and that has been a great guide to how we finesse the overall dynamic of a tune.

You both come from rock and folk backgrounds. What is it about electronica that appealed to you as the foundation of your creative partnership?

[Conlon] Electronic music gives you instant and autonomous license to creatively experiment beyond genres. I’ve been in many guitar-based bands over the years, playing music as rudimentary as Oasis and as complicated as Tool, but back then I always felt it hard to break out of the safety of guitar sounds. It’s not that guitar-based artists can’t do this, they can and do every day, but for me at the time it was very limiting physically to get four or five people in a rehearsal room with the same thoughts and desires to work in perfect harmony and try new directions.

So when you have a computer and DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) at your disposal, you can basically create anything you want and be all the members of the band at once. There is no limit to what you can achieve. Some people thrive in the band environment and they are lucky to have a cohesive interpersonal mechanism to allow for that, but for Tom and me, we can realize entire songs through the laptop in one session and then later compare notes, revise parts and add pieces. This process, if anything, has made our song writing quite prolific.

On the other hand, coming from rock and folk backgrounds, there is a strong ethic to have the live show as authentic as possible so we try to play live instruments and keep backing track minimal. There are quite a lot of bands out there now in our genre whose shows are about 30 per cent live and the rest is backing tracks and sexy dancing. We have a higher percentage than that—our live set-up looks like the dashboard of a spaceship, but we try to include some sexy dancing wherever possible!

The video for “Hummingbird” looks like it might have been challenging to make. What's the story behind it?

[Conlon]“Hummingbird,” lyrically, is the second part of a small two-story song arc. Our single “Celestial Bodies” is all about partying hard, debauchery and getting your brain as scrambled as possible, and“Hummingbird” is basically the day after. It’s about the horrors we get in our hangovers, but it also delves deep into how a depressed mind can feel at its darkest.

[Bell] The video was shot and edited by a very talented gentleman called Julian Cardozo of Small Fish Productions. The concept is about a crash landing from orbit where the protagonist is dying from his wounds. This is an analogy of how the mind drops back into turmoil. The rescue that ensues represents hope and recovery but we never know if the person lives or dies in the end.

There certainly were challenges, mainly the weather. We shot it over the course of a weekend in Parry Sound. On the Friday night our jeep got stuck, we got locked out of the cottage we were staying in and when we eventually got in the heating didn’t work. It was like something out of The Thing!

Once we got going, it was enjoyable for the crew, but Gaz had to lie in the snow for three and a half hours. In spite of the many layers of clothing he wore underneath the flight suit, he was extremely cold, so the chattering and agony you see him act out on film is genuine. We had a good chuckle at his expense.

You guys met while playing Australian Rules Football. Does it take a certain type of person to play that sport?

[Bell] Australian Rules Football is an amazing cross between rugby, American football and soccer. We play for the Toronto Dingos Football Club and it’s really a mix of all sporting types, from the typical athletic guy to the non-athletic type—like Gaz (laughs). The club itself is a wonderful melting pot of nationalities and personalities, a great place to make lifelong friends and to keep fit.

The sport itself is very tough and competitive. Generally, anyone who is competitive, willing to learn the skills and wants to play a physical game can do well at Aussie Rules. When you fight for each other on the sports field it makes working together creatively a piece of cake! Canada has the biggest amateur league outside of Australia, with leagues in B.C., Alberta, Quebec and Ontario, all places we intend to visit this year on tour too.

What's been the biggest change in your life recently, and what are your major goals for 2017?

[Conlon] For me it was moving over here from Ireland with my now wife in 2011 and becoming a permanent resident. I moved for two reasons, the first the chance to have a better standard of living because at that time Ireland was going through a tough economic downturn. I was working long hours in a top position with a lot of responsibility for average pay and I was one of the lucky ones to have a job in the first place. The second reason was to restart my music career in a new environment with new challenges and inspirations. Thankfully I achieved all those things and I love Canada with all my heart for the opportunity it gave me to realize this.

[Bell] Our number one goal is to make this album a success. We want as many people as possible to hear it and raise Honey Beard’s profile to the point where we can play bigger shows and festivals across Canada and internationally. - FYI Music News - Jason Schneider

"Honey Beard - 'Thousand Million Things' EP Review"

Recently in the Independent Spotlight, I’ve had a series of independent electronic artists that have been rather good. This, as I’ve remarked repeatedly, is exceedingly rare. That’s because the independent electronic genre is immensely inundated with bad music, shoddy production, and uncreative efforts. Next to hip hop, it’s probably the most flooded indie outlet. Thus, I have a particular admiration for artists and groups that can pull it off originally and well. Honey Beard, an Irish/Canadian electronic dark-pop duo based in Toronto, does just that.

In June of this year, Honey Beard released their debut studio effort, ‘Thousand Million Things.’ It’s been met with significant acclaim, even scoring them an award nomination in Toronto this award season. That nomination was well-deserved, because Honey Beard does an elegant job infusing pop musings with intuitive, classic electronic stylings. Citing bands like Depeche Mode and the Doors, Honey Beard is the perfect culmination of contemporary and classic influence - they’re the nexus of a particularly exciting modern discovery.
‘Drive’ exemplifies this - the opening of ‘Thousand Million Things.’ I absolutely adore the soundscape the duo has crafted throughout this song - the synthesizers dance back and forth with remarkable tact, creating an exciting, inviting atmosphere. The robotic vocals melded with poppy, melodic vocals create a compelling dichotomy in the aural space as well. I love hearing an independent electronic act with a firm handle on their production - Honey Beard has created their own sound and they’ve matched it with equally superb production.

‘Stretch In The Evening’ is an infectious romp through Wombats-like 80s synthesizers, really cementing Honey Beard’s hold on their brand of pop music. ‘Electromorphosis’ continues that evolution with one of the more intelligent compositions on the record. The synthesizers on the track, along with the rest of the instrumentation, are particularly exceptional on ‘Electromorphosis.’

‘Into The Night’ introduces what I assume is the ‘dark’ element of the band’s ‘dark pop’ label. The lead vocalist’s crooning over a repetitive, moody synth beat is reminiscent of Ian Curtis’ vocal style over a Joy Division track. That comparison is a high compliment, and judging by Honey Beard’s slew of influences, one they’ll probably appreciate. ‘Superstellar’ is more... synth-y. It’s a bit overpowering on this track, in truth, but the solid vocals do balance it well.

Though I fear their synthesizers may be overbearing in their following studio endeavors, Honey Beard is, as of now, one of the most likable and enjoyable electronic pop outfits in the independent scene. ‘Thousand Million Things’ does everything it needs to to flesh out the band well, they just need to continue to evolve in their future releases. This style is immensely lovable now, but I foresee them running into issues if they don't continue to progress forward with each release. - Brett Stewart - The Independent Spotlight

"Interview with Honey Beard"

Interview with Honey Beard
Honey Beard is a Canadian Electronic Pop duo from Toronto, Ontario. Their genre could be described as Dark Synthpop, like Depeche Mode met M83 then adopted by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.

We had the chance to talk to them a bit.

Headphones For Robots: Who is Honey Beard? Where does the name come from?

Tom: The name came from a song Gaz wrote about himself back in 2009 (a long time before Honey Beard). Back in Ireland when the Economic crash hit Gaz became unemployed and over the subsequent months of not working he quickly found himself lost in a timeless haze with no routine, usually drunk/high and feeling like a failure. At that time he was in a band where he sung a lot in falsetto and constantly had a sore throat, so he was drinking down raw honey from the bottle to sooth the pain. However Gaz would often wake up in the middle of the day with honey caked into his beard and thought it was the perfect representation of how bad he had become and how low he let himself go, so with this inspiration he wrote a song called Honey Beard which was about his self-doubt and dejection while searching for something in his life he could hold on to. So a few years later the song name resurfaced when picking a new band name and it was the best of a band bunch so we picked it!

HFR: How did you start making music together? Could you tell us a bit about your influences?

Tom: Gaz and I first met while training for Australian Rules Football, it was Gaz’s first day at training and he didn’t know anyone in the club or the city for that matter as he only immigrated to Canada a few months prior, so I took it upon myself to teach him how to kick but before long we were talking about music and it really rolled out from there.

Tom: Historically our influences are far and wide and for the most part have nothing to do with electronic music. A big starting point for us was the soundtrack to the film ‘Drive’. It kind of pointed us in the direction that we wanted to take Honey Beard.

Gaz: I grew up listening to Jean Michelle Jarre in the car with my Dad when I was very young, and growing up as a child in the 80’s, that era’s music was always in the background. But when I really got into music I began worshipping Metallica, Machine Head and Megadeth, then migrated to Nirvana, Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins. But at some point I began to listen to Pink Floyd, The Doors and Tool and it was these bands that have influenced how I approach and create music. These days I get a lot of ideas and influence from bands like Depeche Mode, OMD, MGMT, M83 and Gunship!

HFR: Can you tell us about Dreamless Sleep (Title Song)?

Gaz: In terms of the lyrics, the words are a little vague but give just enough clues as to what the message is about. This song, the first song on the album, is like a warning for events that unfold on the last song “Momento Mori” which describes the destruction of the earth. Dreamless Sleep speaks to two issues that affect each other, the non-secular side of humanity creating climate change denial and the leaders complicit. Dreamless Sleep predicts that the sea will swell and drown us all but before we meet our end, the loud and brash leaders of this world will be clutching their holy books praying that they will go to a better place but for the folks, like me, who don’t prescribe to that stuff will simply lament on a life lost to fools and await an endless dreamless sleep with no heaven or deity to save me. So in a way, it’s a song that exhorts an anxiety of the absurdity of this humanity and the pointlessness of a life where we are born into thinking that our individuality is unique and our egos are special but collectively we are all going kill ourselves and achieve fucking nothing.

Musically we played around with one driving synth arpeggiator moving from 3 notes to 2 notes with a long break down in the middle and a searing synth lead that kind of guides the song from start to finish. We think the song is also a great introduction to what the album will sound like without leaning too heavily to on typical electronic tropes. It’s unashamedly born from 80’s synth sounds but it’s got a modern drum and bass combination and the synth itself evokes a kind of sad darkness which reflects the message of the song and the album as a whole.

HFR: What is your approach on writing music? What about the lyrics?

Tom: We have two typical approaches, the main approach is that both of us will sit at home and come up with a song either in a basic verse/chorus form or it could be almost complete. We then send the song to each other and compare notes until we are both happy with the track.

The other approach is jamming a song out (usually late on a Friday night whilst fantastically inebriated). We bring out an electronic drum kit and just jam away until something flourishes and, if we’re still in control of our faculties at that time, we will record the version and then clean it up at a later time between the two of us, The Stream (from the album) is a good example of that.

Gaz: The lyrics always come last but when the song is written usually a vocal melody is sung using gibberish lyrics so as to establish melody, then after that actual lyrics are written and recorded. But lyric ideas are always floating around waiting for the right song to be applied to. We take our lyrics very seriously and probably spend more time on the words than we do on the music. The song ‘Let Me Disappear’ (3rd track of the album) had its lyrics and melody completely scrubbed and rewritten days before the album was due for mastering!

HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? What do you use when writing a song and which are your favorite instruments?

Tom: For song writing, any midi controller hooked up to Logic does the trick. We can spend several hours at a time going through all of the different software instruments until something clicks. On stage, I use a Micro Korg quite a bit. Considering how much equipment we haul around to gigs, it’s nice to have something so compact but still powerful and versatile.

Gaz: My favourite is the Alesis Micron (red trim). Before we began using Logic this was my main synth and its pretty powerful with some sweet sounds. I rely a lot on my TC Helicon Voicelive vocal effects processor as I try to change up the vocals on every song. It’s a great effects pedal. When we play guitar I cherish my line6 DL4 delay pedal, the sounds out of that are gorgeous. We use an AKAI MPK 61Key midi controller and to be honest it’s a piece of shit, its too delicate for the road to the point where it latches by itself and the display doesn’t work, its betrayed us a few times in the middle of a show.

HFR: Honey Beard in a near future? Are there any shows coming up within 2017? Any chances to see you in Europe?

HB: We have a few shows and festivals here in Canada set up but we are taking a trip to Ireland in September to play a few shows and festivals there including the Electric Picnic festival on September 2nd, so we’re looking forward to that. Right now we’re in the drawn out process of putting a long schedule of shows so watch this space!

HFR: Last words?

HB: Synth music is an incredibly fun genre to be a part of but our genuine approach is to make each song meaningful, to layer it with depth and purpose. That method may not always tickle the general populace who tend to look for the typical saccharine feel good froth or some catch all throw back to B-movie sci-fi soundtracks. We’re out to evoke through our words as much as our sounds, we may not always get it right but our songs are in constant pursuit of that and we hope it can be well received!

We would like to thank everyone who has been buying and listening to the album since it came out in March and are already planning the 2nd album for next year!

If you like our stuff you can catch it on Spotify or look at some of our videos on youtube. It’s easy to search for us just use the handle @honeybeardband and you will find all our social media! - Headphones for Robots

"Honey Beard - Torontos best kept secret in electro pop"

Honey Beard is an Irish/Canadian Electronic Dark-Pop duo from Toronto, Canada. The band have been creating music since 2012 drawing on early inspirations such as Depeche Mode and The Doors. Honey Beard have built up quite the reputation for their frenetic live performances with edgy songs that tear apart typical pop arrangements while balancing dark synth with bright thumping beats.

Honey Beard released their debut EP “THOUSAND MILLION THINGS” back in June 6th 2015 to much fanfare and have since been touring all over Canada in support of its release finally finishing up back in Toronto in time for their 2015 Indie Week showcase in October. Honey Beard followed up a successful year of shows with a TIMA nomination (Toronto Independent Music Award) for best pop act for 2015.

Honey Beard are currently back in the writing studio finishing off a massive backlog of songs which they hope to record and release in 2016 but promise that their schedule for the new year is going to be jam packed. - Music Existence - Stephen Vicino

"Honey Beard: “THOUSAND MILLION THINGS” features superb songwriting, musical arrangements and synthesizer programming"

Honey Beard is an Irish/Canadian Electronic Dark-Pop duo from Toronto, Canada. They have been creating music since 2012 drawing on early inspirations such as Depeche Mode and The Doors. Honey Beard released their debut EP “THOUSAND MILLION THINGS” back in June 6th 2015 to much fanfare and have since been touring all over Canada in support of its release finally finishing up back in Toronto in time for their 2015 Indie Week showcase in October. Honey Beard followed up a successful year of shows with a TIMA nomination (Toronto Independent Music Award) for best pop act for 2015.

I review music on its individual strengths and weakness and not moronic comparisons to other groups or records of the past. And though I could easily correlate Honey Beard with half a dozen superb electronic bands, not least my all-time favorite Depeche Mode – the bottom line is, as a body of work, a “THOUSAND MILLION THINGS” features superb songwriting, musical arrangements and synthesizer programming. The music is simply that good. Somebody else cited this album as an example of incredible synthesizer production. He’s right. My mind was blown. Each song has some hook that grabs your attention and then sucks you in.

Moreover, when listening to the lyrics on this album, you can really feel all the emotions in the songs, which I think is part of what makes it so great. The songs are both beautiful and thought provoking – there are emotions there that I think anyone can relate to. Obviously the words or lyrics of any song need to be translated into audible emotion to really capture the listener’s attention and empathy. A simple task for Honey Beard, considering they handle the lead vocals and harmonies excellently.

“THOUSAND MILLION THINGS”, I don’t think is intended to be the hyped- mainstream, commercial music that is out there, instead the duo keep their integrity and uniqueness in adhering to their dark and intricately developed compositions. Notwithstanding this fact, Honey Beard’s music will grow on you for two main reasons: their portentous and uncompromising music helps to connect with a part of the human psyche and soul that many groups fail to capture. The psychotropic beats are an addictive pulsating cure and a hypnotic source of therapy.

In “THOUSAND MILLION THINGS”, Honey Beard will transport you with their alternative synth/pop sounds into futuristic places, into your own dark emotions and into a ray of hope amidst your struggles and dour existence. Technology has matured to a level that permits such artists as Honey Beard, to create beautiful melodic tapestries on which to ride the senses and imagination, while maintaining a touch of vintage. Something they do extremely well right from the opening track, “Drive” and then ably continue, in “Stretch in the Evening”, “Electromorphosis”, “Into The Night” and “Superstellar”.

“THOUSAND MILLION THINGS”, truly shattered all of my expectations. Having listened to it numerous times, I can say with a pure conscience that there’s not a single dud – in fact, there’s not even one song that I’ve had trouble warming up to on the very first listen. - Jamsphere - Robbie Tee

"Honey Beard releases EP and talks up coming single."

Honey Beard is an Irish/Canadian Electronic Dark-Pop duo from Toronto, Canada. The band have been creating music since 2012 building up a reputation for their frenetic live performances with edgy songs that tear apart typical pop arrangements while balancing dark synth with bright thumping beats. Honey Beard has just released an EP, and apparently a new single is already in the works! We caught up with the duo and get the inside scoop on what is next for the band right here on Entertwine!

Entertwine: How did you all form as a band?

[Gaz] Tom and I first met through the medium of Australian Rules Football (AFL). When I first came to Toronto in 2011 I joined a local AFL team called the Toronto Dingos so I could get fit, learn a new sport and make some friends. Not long after I joined I got to know Tom, a Montreal native now living in Toronto, and from there we hit it off. I had come over to Canada with the intention of starting a band and Tom always wanted to perform live so it was a perfect match.

Where did the name, Honey Beard originate?

[Tom] We get asked this a lot, most people assume it’s one of those wanna-be-cool hip names that are wrought up after hours of word matching but really it came from when Gaz was unemployed and living in his home country of Ireland.

[Gaz] The economic bust was ripping through the country at the time and I was made redundant at work and living at home with nothing to do, unkempt with a big crazy beard, getting stoned and playing my smashed up guitar.

[Gaz] At the time I was in another band where a lot of my singing was at the upper register of my abilities so I was constantly treating my throat with hot water and honey. It was during this time I found myself on a few occasions playing an un-tuned acoustic guitar at 5 in the morning, inebriated with blobs of honey stuck on my beard in a pathetic attempt to keep my throat in order, so essentially I had a ‘honey beard’. That silly memory always kept with me and so the name Honey Beard originated.

If you could describe your sounds in three words, what would they be?

[Tom] Hard to describe it perfectly but we fall into the generally described criteria of:

Tell us about your new EP, “Thousand Million Things”. What went into the writing and recording process to make this EP possible?

[Tom] The Toronto music scene is just chock a block with top shelf artists and we were just really beginning to gig after a few years of deciding what sound we were going to pursue. So we felt a little behind where we should be and that was really the motivation behind recording an EP, to have professionally recorded music out in the public domain as soon as possible. This meant that we needed to write songs so a lot of writing work happened in a short space of time. At one point we had a writing frenzy of 7 songs in a month, most of which made the EP so unlike most bands who tend to put their first recording together after years of writing and performing together we did it all very quickly.

[Gaz] Looking back what’s more surprising to us is that for a few years Honey Beard was an acoustic guitar vessel and not the electronic space ship we perform with today so this type of music was completely new to us. The time from when we began messing around with synths and midis to the time we began recording was probably under 9 months so again we were surprised how well the EP worked out considering.

Which track would you say is your favorite? How about a favorite to perform live?

[Gaz] My favourite is probably the final track Super Stellar, it’s a synth heavy ramble that gets a little epic at the end. We usually perform it at the end of our shows, the second half of the song is just an instrumental and playing it live still gives me goose bumps. Lyrically it’s a song about the conscious transcending to the super conscious through an internal fist fight so its not all synth pads and arpeggiators!

[Tom] My favourite track is probably Drive. Drive was essentially the first song Honey Beard ever wrote. It originally had a completely different structure and the verse melodies were nothing like the finished track. Gaz had originally sung the chorus and somewhere in his rough guide vocal track mumbled the words “three thousand million things”. About a year later I was messing around with a vocoder and the chorus melody that Gaz had laid down for his guide vocals in the original song came to mind. I made a little vocoder song out of that and when I showed Gaz he loved it. We ended up finishing the final version of Drive in a few hours. It appropriately made our EP as the lead off song, and the title of our EP “Thousand Million Things” came from Gaz’ original mumblings.
What is your current single that is in the works?

[Gaz] Right now we are in the middle of recording two songs which we hope to release individually over the first half of the year. The first song will be called Celestial Bodies and the second is called Humming Bird. Both are lyrically connected but have very different vibes between them.

What can listeners expect to hear from this single? Anything different or new sounds?

[Tom] The first song we hope to release is called ‘Celestial Bodies’. This song always gets the biggest pop at our shows, being our fastest song it tends to get a few revelers up dancing. It has a great energy, like a festival energy to it which we hope will translate well to our record, it’s also one of the many sides of Honey Beards music that we get to show case. We hope it becomes a front runner.

The next song is called ‘Humming Bird’ which has an altogether different vibe, a more chilled electronic song that we think folks will like. It’s got those dance floor beats but has a little sadness running through it.

What are your main goals for your summer tour?

[Tom] Like the last tour our main goal is to just get our music out to as many people as possible. Social media is extremely important but it can never replace the engagement and exposure a tour gives you.

At the start of every year we build up a massive milestone chart on white board and agree on targets we want to reach. It’s a good way to keep your eye on the prize. We have a special one for our summer tour which covers everything from merch sales, network contacts to blogs and door numbers. There is great emphasis to build upon last year and to grow two fold; so when you ask about our goals we actually have them in metrics, not very artsy but definitely essential. We also want to make the tour as efficient lean as possible, to learn and evolve as we go so were not wasting time and money. We want to earn that experience so we get better from a logistic perspective.

Apart from hard numbers and kaizen philosophies we really want to connect with these cities, venues and audience members by improving our stage show, refining our songs and creating great memories but above all else we want to enjoy and experience as much as possible.

Any unique locations that you will be performing at? Any favorite?

[Gaz] We’re still in the process of booking these venues so we can’t really say. Our last tour brought us up and down eastern Ontario and into Quebec, there wasn’t a place we didn’t enjoy and really can’t wait to revisit. In terms of venues, because our set up is very technical, any venue that has a good sound system, tidy stage and gives us a sound check is an instant favourite in our eyes!

Your influences include acts like, Depeche Mode, The Doors, and MGMT. What is it about these artists that inspired your music?

[Tom] Its funny, most of our musical inspirations are all guitar based bands such as Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Metallica, Nirvana, RHCP, Tool and can get as eclectic as ABBA, Jean Michelle Jarre, Slipknot, Ice Cube, Pennywise etc. But when we speak of our influences that most relate to the music were doing now, apart from Jean Michelle Jarre, we tend to note The Doors, Depeche Mode and MGMT as being inspirations.

[Gaz] The Doors has had a profound impact on how I enjoy music, how I think about music. That band was just so cerebral, it felt like they didn’t take for granted their music. I always felt for me that each second of each song on each album was almost precious to them and in turn to me. They have their great songs and not so great songs I felt they put love in each one. From a lyrical perspective Jim Morrison is widely loved and derided, especially his poetry but for me it’s a glimpse at a man within and beyond his time, he was almost too intelligent for his own good. His words whipped up a kind of sexual melancholy with exotic and ancient imagery that always sticks in my mind. I lament we will never see the like of him again and it’s something I think about when writing and performing. I am also a baritone singer like Morrison but I could never sing in that chilling yet loving way that he does.

[Tom] Depeche Mode is more musically aligned to what we do and many people make the connection when they hear us play which is a great honour. The band became more of a recent inspiration to us than anything else. Their dark and brooding melodies humming over some clever and jarring synthesizers was always intriguing to us. Even some of their 80’s albums which have songs that have aged badly are still fascinating to hear. I may be wrong but I think these guys kind of lead the way for the type of dark electronic pop we hear today and they are still pumping out some great album, most notably ‘Delta Machine’.

[Tom] Another band we get likened to is MGMT and when their popular album Oracular Spectacular first came pumping out of the radio stations we were definitely left smitten, songs like Kids, Time to Pretend and Electric Feel are just seminal electronic pop songs and have undoubtedly have influenced our sound and song writing.

What is in store for Honey Beard in 2016?

[Tom] 2015 was just so jam packed with an EP release and subsequent tour, a TIMA nomination and festivals but our plans for 2016 aim to completely eclipse that.

Firstly we are back gigging in February with a show at the Silver Dollar in Toronto but then after that we have 2 music videos, 2 singles and a summer tour all planned for this year, not to mention we will be playing a show in Ireland in June and hopefully playing some big festivals in Toronto and over in British Columbia. - Jackie Cassell

"Whispers of Light EP Review"

I think I've said it before, but damn it feels great to be a Toronto synthwave gangster. I'm lucky to share the same city as some of the best synthwave artists around. Honey Beard is part of this collective. Since 2012, Tom and Gary

I couldn't help myself. Tom and Gary. Get it? Know what I mean? Nudge Nudge. Say no more.
have been creating vocal synthwave tinged with darker vocals and bright notes with thumping beats. In 2015, they released their first EP entitled "
Thousand Million Things
", followed in 2017 by their debut album "
Dreamless Sleep
". They've also contributed tunes to various synthwave compilations targeting worthwhile charities, such as the "
RetroReverbRhythms Vol 1
" for cancer research and support, and the "
Completely Mental Volume 1
" for mental health research and support.

Honey Beard (Gary and Tom) in action

"Whispers of Light" released on November 8th, 2019. It features 5 songs containing very personal thoughts and emotions blanketed over hopeful melodies and thrilling beats. This combination reaches into your chest to squeeze your heart (to the beat of course).

It's time to hold hands and explore the emotional side of synthwave:

"Like a Fire" - First released on the "
RetroReverbRhythms Vol 1
" compilation album, it was then given a beautiful video to accompany the haunting melody. Beautiful sparkling notes kick off this track, leading into a somewhat urgent and yearning rhythm. I love the phrasing in this song. The break two thirds in slowly builds to an amazing drop, and Gary's soft voice before and after pairs so well with the melodies. This reminds me so much of great '90s and '00s trance, and I'd be very surprised if there weren't any remixes on the way.

“This is Forever” - The band uses the term "darkpop" to describe their music, and the vocals in this tune lend credence to that. Slightly darker and brooding, it's intertwined with a great beat. In the second half of the song, bright notes enter, lifting you on some sort of euphoric elevator while staying melancholic and heartfelt. I think this is my favourite entry on the EP.

“Cross My Heart” - This song is damn cool. The synth melody looping with a driving beat is then taken to another level with vocals that jump to and fro across the octaves with echoes, underscored with chords that once again seem to evoke new wave influences. My second favourite track on the album.

“Under the Ferris Wheel” - With vocals that are slightly raspier and notes reminiscent of '80s new wave, Under The Ferris Wheel features lyrics that create visions of days gone by, youth a distant memory, missed opportunities. Honey Beard's signature high synth notes contrast beautifully with the darker lyrics and pulsing rhythm.

“Full of Stars” - The beat and melodies in this last song are truly amazing. While the music is euphoric, Honey Beard's signature darkpop vocals layer over it so well. The lyrics bring to mind Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't it be good", but with faster beats, elevated chords, and a softer voice.

I've been wracking my brain trying to identify what music or artists this EP reminds me of. It's there, on the tip of my mind, but frustratingly elusive. It's as if you took some '80s new wave, mashed it with the best '90s trance, and threw in indie vocals. This is, in my opinion, what synthwave is all about. Draw from your influences, and then create something new, unique, and fresh. Honey Beard has done it, and done it well. Featuring amazing production quality, the tracks (all of them) are soulful and meaningful, and there are hooks and melodies throughout that can make you feel melancholic and euphoric at the same time. Honey Beard's latest work will garner high praise from all who listen to it. - Nightride FM – Julian Green:

"Whispers of Light EP Review"

Full disclosure: Last summer I got to hang out with the band that made the EP I am reviewing today.

Does that make me biased? I don’t think so, since I had heard Honey Beard’s music and enjoyed it long before I ever got to meet them in person. That being said, I partied with Honey Beard at Outland last summer. I had a blast at that concert, as I got to connect with a number of synthwave fans and artists that I have only conversed with via Twitter. It was well worth the trip from Boston to Toronto to see all of those people under one roof.

I won’t get into the details, as I have already written a long article about my experience at Outland in Toronto.

Instead, today I’ll be talking about Honey Beard’s newest EP that just dropped, Whispers of Light. This will be the second review I’ve done where someone was kind enough to send me an advance copy of their album for my review. Keep them coming! I want to hear your music.

I could go on an on about how Honey Beard is comprised of two cool, fun loving dudes from Toronto, Canada, or how one of them looks like the guy who plays Mad Sweeney in American Gods (that actor is also from Canada. COINCIDENCE?), but I think that I’ve already said my piece on that subject in my rambling review of Outland.

So, without further ado, I will be taking a listen to all of the tracks on Whispers of Light and breaking them down to the best of my ability:

I hit play and a kick hits, four on the floor, with a closed high hat on the offbeat. I’m getting strong dance vibes as it pounds. A dance party is about to break out, and I’m ready to get down. An airy arpeggio fades in. The kick cuts out at 15 seconds in, a high hat fill plays, and then the bass hits.

And what a bassline it is. There’s a nice rhythm to it that makes this track immediately dance-able. My head is bobbing to the beat in anticipation of what’s to come. The full drum set and vocals enter 35 seconds into the track and I’m into it now. I wish I didn’t have to focus on the nuances of this track, because this music is meant for dancing, not studying. I press on, regardless. I could totally get down to this track, though.

Ultimately, that’s what this track is for: Having a good time. Lyrically there’s not a lot to this song, and there doesn’t need to be. This is a dance track and, knowing that, I try to free myself from thinking about this record in terms of deep music theory or pithy lyrical statements. Could this album have those elements to it later on? I don’t care. Honey Beard is all about having a good time. As mentioned earlier, I associate Honey Beard with Outland, one of the greatest times of my life, and this track captures that good time feeling to a T.

A signature synthwave tom roll hits at 1:05 and in comes the chorus. “LIKE A FIIIIIIIIRRREEEEEE!!!” That one line is all you get for the chorus of this track. Like a fire? Like a fire! Did you need any more? Were you expecting any more? You don’t need any more. You need to get off your ass and cut a rug. Start a fire purely from the friction of your shoes scuffing the floor as you furiously dance to this tune.

A ghostly, ethereal lead and synth pad enter to accompany the chorus, which beckons the listener to dance like a fire. I kind of get a strong Haddaway “What is Love?” vibe from this track. That dance tune tore it up in the 90’s and was equally minimalistic in terms of its lyrical content. Sometimes less is more, as that track was a club hit that made it all the way to SNL and the movie “A Night at the Roxbury.”

In that way “Like a Fire” is an instant synthwave dance classic. A must-spin at any synthwave dance party.

Since this blog is dedicated to breaking down tracks play by play and talking about their nuances I will get into the lyrical content. I don’t think that that’s necessarily the intention of this track, but I’m going to get into it anyway, because that’s how this blog rolls:

“And I watch you from afar

From the deep cold beneath

And you light up the night like a star

Free form but out of reach”

I like the description here, as you can paint a number of scenarios onto it. We’ve all been there, at a club or a bar, watching someone who is impossibly hot take to the dance floor. Do you have the guts to go and dance with this person? What if they’re already with someone and you could, possibly, make an ass of yourself by asking them to dance with you? It’s a tough call, unless you’ve already imbibed enough liquid courage that your dignity is playing second fiddle to your desires. I think the protagonist in this song is playing it safe. Like the stars in the night sky you can’t visit them, you can only observe their beauty.

An interesting breakdown occurs at 1:55. A synth that sounds like an electronic version of a slide whistle rings out (I think the technical term for this is “riser,” but come on, it’s an electronic slide whistle), accompanied by some claps, and we’re left with the echo of the delay heavy arpeggio that played earlier. A mellow synth pad enters here, along with a sawtooth drone that buzzes in the background, like a cicada on a hot summer day.

The build up from the breakdown here is brilliant. Claps hold the beat steady in the swirling ethereal void created by the synth pads, then the words “like a fire” ring out in the void and the main hook of the song comes back with a vengeance. The bass is more furious now, playing a 16th note arpeggio underneath the 16th note, delay laden arpeggio that plays above it.

Toms hit around 3:34 and that slide whistle synth/riser comes back. This same riser plays again shortly afterwards, signalling the end of the track. Only the bass remains now, fading away to draw the track to a close.

“Like A Fire” lives up to its namesake in that it is pure synthwave dance track fire. It functions exactly as intended: It makes you want to get up and get down.

A continuous 16th note bass line hits at the beginning of “This Is Forever.” The sound design on this bass would easily be at home in a darkwave track. Reverb drenched vocals accompany the bass, creating an eerie atmosphere to this track.

Claps ring out around 23 seconds in, along with the line “This is Forever,” and then the full drum kit enters. It’s a dramatic effect that makes for a solid intro to this tune.

The rhythm in the bass at this point is, as I have pointed out in previous reviews, perhaps the most common rhythm in synthwave at this point—namely a 16th note rest followed by three 16th notes bassline. It’s a trope in synthwave that has seen some mileage, but given the fact that its not the only rhythm used in the bass on this track it gets a pass here. Besides, at this point this bassline rhythm just a thing that synthwave does. As I’ve said before, it’s like complaining that ska plays chords in the offbeat. Yeah, it’s ska. What did you expect?

This section after the intro features a classic sounding EDM synth stab lead that provides a counter melody to the vocals. Tom rolls queue the heartfelt vocals, which re-enter the mix around 34 seconds in. About a minute into the track a breakdown occurs. The drums cut out and we’re left with the pounding 16th note bassline, EDM lead, and the vocals. Again, like the intro, the line “this is forever” signals the end of the breakdown, only this time the line is accompanied by a whooshing, white noise synth that brings the full drum kit back into the mix. This dramatic effect works well in that it reintroduces a theme and it serves to give “This Is Forever” its own form and structure.

I love the sound design of the arpeggiated lead that plays around 1:23. It sounds like the synth that plays it has had its resonance knob cranked just short of feedback, with the LFO modding the filter. There’s a nasal chirp to it that just works so well here, as it is a sharp contrast to the synth stab sound of the EDM lead that played previously.

The whooshing, airy, white noise synth that was first introduced in the breakdown comes back to re-introduce the vocals as the high resonance synth keeps playing in the background. This section does not last for long as another breakdown occurs shortly after, and it plays out much in the same fashion as the first breakdown: The white noise synth is once again used to signal the entry of the full drum kit back into the mix.

Every time these breakdowns occur in this track Honey Beard introduces new sound design in the synth that plays the lead after the breakdown. It’s a nice touch that provides a decent amount of variation to “This Is Forever.” This time the lead that plays has this almost “music box” quality to it, as it chimes out its clicky, metallic, almost kalimba-esque melody.

The EDM synth stab returns and, along with the kalimba synth, it serves to bring “This Is Forever” to a climax. It gets busy here, with layer upon layer acting in concert, before it all abruptly ends at 3:35 and we’re left with the resonance heavy synth (that was introduced previously) and a shimmering, echoing synth that provides a counter melody. Both synths play out the track in a floaty, almost angelic fashion, adding gravitas to the outro.

An audio filter masks the puslating 8th note bass and synth arpeggio that introduce “Under the Ferris Wheel.” This audio filter is slowly lifted and then the TOMS HIT.

On this site I’ve already talked about how you know shit is going down in synthwave when the TOMS HIT. That’s just what happens when TOMS HIT. When TOMS HIT I instantly yell, “OH SHIT, SOMETHING’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN!”

The vocals enter the mix (I told you shit was about to happen) and a classic 80’s style synth chime carries a melody of its own along with the vocals.

The snare on beats two and four has a nice, punchy “GOOJ!” sound here, leading me believe that Honey Beard used a classic Simmons SDSV for the drum track. That’s a precise musical term, by the way. GOOJ. Every electronic musician worth their salt knows that GOOJ is the sound that a Simmons snare makes.

“Another Summer day, and we’re rolling

Chillin’ at the arcade, and we’re scoping”

Honey Beard is laying the 80’s vibes on thick here, and I am instantly reminded of the hot, humid summers of my youth where the arcade promised not only a good time, but also the sweet relief of air conditioning. The Dream Machine arcade near me at the time had AC and a four player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cabinet, and that was all I needed to beat the Summertime blues. During the summer the best my parents’ house could ever provide to beat the heat was an oscillating fan and the same Sega Master System games that I had already beaten a million times over. Going to the arcade really was a no-brainer, as I literally not figuratively chilled at the arcade.

Honey Beard is really channeling Corey Hart on this track. Never surrender! It’s a pitchier Corey Hart, as huge amounts of reverb are used well to mask any small defects in the singing. This is not off-putting, however, as I always appreciate a pitchy 80’s track. I mean, I listen to Joy Division, so obviously that sort of thing just isn’t a concern for me. It also proves that Honey Beard doesn’t really overdo it with pitch correction software (do they even use it at all?). This is a breath of fresh air in 2019 as music sounds more and more like it’s made by robots and not actual human beings.

Are there epic breakdowns? It’s Honey Beard! Of course there are! (If there’s one thing I can say about this EP it’s that all of the breakdowns are epic. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.) There’s a breakdown at 1:20 that accentuates the line “Nowhere to run.” Intense! There’s an even bigger breakdown at 2:03 that’s signaled by a change in rhythm in the bass. Even more intense! And what ends the silence of this epic breakdown and brings the track back in a fit of 80’s synthpop fury? That Simmons snare! GOOJ!

Lyrically speaking, this track brings all of the nostalgia as it is a tale of youth and unrequited love. I’ve been married for 12 years now but I still remember those days. Wait, do I have nostalgia for being young and in love and not being loved in return? Eh, maybe not. But I do miss the Dream Machine arcade quite a bit.

Also, as per the lyrical content of this song, I definitely drank booze under a Ferris wheel at some point in my high school career. I grew up in rural New Hampshire so that kind of behavior was mandatory at state fairs.

The last of the epic breakdowns of this track occurs at 2:40. The drums cut out and we’re left with that same pulsating 8th note bassline from the intro, along with an arpeggio and a soaring synth pad. A shaky, upper register synth with its wavy pitch modded by the LFO plays softly here. It’s a classic sound that really adds to this already classic sounding, retro-inspired track. This high pitched synth squeals out a few notes before the track ends, leaving me with silence and a lot of memories of how far I’ve come from the days when I thought drinking under an amusement park ride was the coolest thing anyone could possibly do. Nowadays, instead of booze under a Ferris wheel, I’m good with a cherry coke next to a Five Guys. Oh, to be a kid again.

Sub bass? What is happening? Did Honey Beard go full Darkwave and not tell anyone? There’s definitely a sub bass at the intro to “Cross My Heart,” along with an arpeggio that heightens the tension. A darkwave-esque synth melody enters around 18 seconds in and I’m wondering if Honey Beard has suddenly gone goth. Wind swept white noise cries out 30 seconds in, claps enter, and then the beat drops.

This drop is epic, as it ushers in a four on the floor beat with claps on two and four. The sub bass is still going here, as is the arpeggio, bringing a strong dance vibe to the otherwise dark and ominous atmosphere.

Even the lyrics are dark here:

“All the secrets in my life have come to terrorize

All my wrongs have come to right as they form a line”

We were talking about getting loaded under Ferris wheels as a kid in the previous track and now we’re singing about… Vampires? “Sun is arising and I lose my high…Can’t you see we do these things to stay alive…I will not die.”

I’m taking these lines out of context as they do not appear next to each other, but the lyrical content of this song definitely sounds like vampires to me. There are multiple meanings you could assign to these lyrics, as this song could also be about someone who feels that they have committed such heinous, grievous wrong in their life that there can be no redemption for them anymore. The lyrics in this track are open to the interpretation of the listener and that, for me at least, will always be the hallmark of great songwriting. I have to admit that I am a sucker for lyrics that can be interpreted in a number of ways. It’s a clever way to really personalize a song, as its meaning will be different to every person that listens to it.

The breakdowns in this track bring things to a halt, with only the sub bass and vocals ringing out in the void as drum fills enter and bring the full kit back in. Sure, there are breakdowns, but that is the only thing that links this track to the previous three tracks I have heard thus far. With that exception, this track charts territory that I had not heard previously on this EP. “Cross My Heart” is dark, heavy on infectious dance grooves, and it’s a nice change of pace from what I previously thought this album was: A nice synthwave pop record. I’m wrong, as “Cross My Heart” could easily be played in one of those underground vampire raves featured in the movie “Blade.”

A bubbly, xylophone-esque synth arpeggio and a bright, scintillating, swirling, swishing synth pad greet me in the intro to this track. Bass and drums kick in. The excitement builds until the drums go apeshit around 38 seconds in with the mother of all snare rolls. The vocals enter with cavernous reverb, making this track sound massive.

The cheeriness of the intro is deceptive because, when the vocals come onto the scene, I am hit with the lyrical content of this song. I’m pretty sure that “Full of Stars” is a song about a bad breakup. That intro was so happy, though! And now here we are, at the intersection of lonely and depressed, hearing the line “Please don’t leave me out here alone in the dark.”

A minute and forty one seconds in a breakdown hits. It hits so hard that it almost seems as if this breakdown is the end of the song. Layers are removed, leaving only a synthesized bell and a percussive, metallic sounding synth to play off of each other. An audio filter comes in around 1:56 and fades both instruments slightly. Is this the end? Oh well, short and sweet. Odd place to end this, really, since…

BAM! The audio filter is removed and the drums hit for an epic return to the massive, spacious sound heard earlier in the track. The singer croons, “Please don’t leave meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!” Eat shit, Taylor Swift! This is how you write a breakup song!

Everything is firing on all cylinders here at maximum intensity. All of the volume knobs are cranked to 11 until 3:23 when the track comes to an abrupt conclusion. The bottomless well reverb used on all of the instruments causes them to echo into the empty space at the end of this track. Much like the protagonist of this song’s significant other, “Full of Stars” just up and leaves us all alone.

So… My final thoughts on this record: Is Whispers of Light a deep record, full of lyrical complexity? Is it breaking new ground, taking synthwave to places it has never been before? Is it showing off any kind of virtuosity, either instrumentally or with the vocals?

At times, yes, but for the most part, no, and you’d be missing the point of this record if you focus on those aspects of Honey Beard’s music. Whispers of Light is a fun, passionate record made by two fun, passionate guys. You won’t hear remote modulations, synth shredding, or a four octave vocal range on this EP. That’s not what Honey Beard is all about. Honey Beard is here to party, have a good time, and sing their heart out. I want to hear this band live so badly. I’m bummed that I couldn’t see them on the stage with all of the other artists at Outland. I imagine that the same passion that Honey Beard put into this record also goes into their live show.

So, if you’re looking for vocal synthwave that hits hard, with maximum emotional intensity, has epic breakdowns, solid sound design, and is fun to dance to, then look no further. Honey Beard’s Whispers of Light delivers all of that and then some.

You can listen to Whispers of Light, along with Honey Beard’s other recordings, via their Bandcamp page: https://honeybeardband.bandcamp.com/ - Cobra Commander (Matthew Lister) – Retro Danger Zone

"Whispers of Light EP Review"

Check out the Link for the full review - Forever Synth – Rob Dyson

"Whispers of Light EP Review"

Review of New EP Whisper of Light
Whisper of Light is an EP full of floating atmospheres and soaring synths that dance around heavier and darker lyrical content. I’d describe the overall content of this album as darkly ethereal. The lyrics combine melancholy, introspection and emotion and the sonic landscape is drenched in atmospherics. There’s a light touch on the synths, but it is counterbalanced by the rumble of the bass and the propulsive force of the percussion.

The EP's Mood
Catchy, hooky melodies are not a part of Whisper of Light, but in this case I don’t think they are necessary. Some listeners might want more infectious melodies but the mood of this EP really wasn’t meant, in my view, to be pure pop. That isn’t to say that the melodies are lacking, just that they aren’t these shiny, happy sounding things in the same way as they might be on something with a more saccharine pop-oriented sound.

The musical bed for this EP has been well produced and it acts as a firm foundation for the song craft that’s on display. The showcasing of the emotional content is achieved with sounds that keep the ear engaged, reflecting the sentiments being expressed.

The lyrics are carefully crafted and well-performed. There’s an aching and a yearning, almost painful that comes through in the words. I feel that a sense of loss pervades much of the album. It is counterbalanced by the sonic energy that pushes the music forward. Layers of arps, pads, drums and bass create a real fullness to the sound that is in contrast to the words.

This album has a strong flavour of the kind of ‘80s synthpop that I really enjoy. It combines light and darkness, sadness and warmth in equal measures. It holds up the torch for synthpop and pushes it forward into this new era where hope is a little more tarnished and things seem less clearly to be making progress than they did back in the ‘80s. - Karl Magi


Thousand Million Things - EP - June, 2015

Dreamless Sleep - LP - March 2017

Reverie - EP - November 2018

Whispers of Light - EP - November 2019

Oneiros - LP - November 2021



Honey Beard is an award winning Electronic Synthwave duo from Toronto, Canada. The band have been creating music since 2012 drawing on early influences such as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan and The Doors. The band have built up quite a reputation for their frenetic live performances with edgy songs that tear apart typical pop arrangements while balancing dark synths with bright thumping beats. 

Honey Beard released their debut EP “Thousand Million Things” in 2015 to much fanfare and in March of 2017, the band released their debut full length album "Dreamless Sleep". They launched the album to a sold out crowd at Toronto's Junction City Music Hall. The album has earned them praise from fans and critics alike, including Canada's Alan Cross. "Dreamless Sleep" has been charting on college radio since it's release, was played on Alan Cross' radio program on Toronto's 102.1 The Edge, and enjoyed a popular rotation on CBC Radio and Sirus XM. Later that year Honey Beard won the Best Electronic Artist award at the Toronto Independent Music Awards 2017!

Honey Beard followed up the success of their album with an EP called Reverie in 2018 which started them down the path of the Synthwave genre culminating in a move to sign with British independent label Retro Reverb Records.

Late in 2019 Honey Beard released their 3rd EP 'Whispers of Light' which garnered more praise from the Synthwave community which saw them on various radio shows across the world and invitations to festivals in the US and Britain.

Black Skies is the latest release by the band, their dark synth single has been making the rounds giving us a glimpse of their 2nd album due out later in the year.

“the tracks (all of them) are soulful and meaningful, and there are hooks and melodies throughout that can make you feel melancholic and euphoric at the same time. Honey Beard's latest work will garner high praise from all who listen to it.” - Julian Green - Nightride FM

“if you’re looking for vocal synthwave that hits hard, with maximum emotional intensity, has epic breakdowns, solid sound design, and is fun to dance to, then look no further. Honey Beard’s Whispers of Light delivers all of that and then some.” - Cobra Commander: Retro Danger Zone

“Whispers of Light feels like a grown-up EP, it showcases a straight faced approach to songwriting, and bleeds an authenticity that cuts across the 80s decade from early new wave and even a deep dive into late 80s house. I would urge a purchase, and something tells me Honey Beard will be an act to catch live too.”- Rob Dyson: Forever Synth

The combination of the emotional punch of the lyrics with the driving beats, drifting pads and sounds that sometimes soar, and sometimes touch the depths, make Whisper of Light an enjoyable listening experience.” -Karl Magi: Spinditty

"Honey Beards live shows are furious affairs that will leave you wanting more" - Click it Ticket - ' Top 15 Very Cool Bands You Must See Live This Year'

"Sleek, melancholy, and thumping electronic pop track full of subtlety and restraint" - Silent Shout 

"Take a listen to Honey Beard, a Toronto-based electronic duo who sound like MGMT had they been British and weaned on early 80s techno-pop" - Alan Cross (Edge 102.1)

"theres a thousand million things to like about Honey Beard" - Stephanie Hughes (Razmataz Magazine)

Honey Beard create beautiful melodic tapestries on which to ride the senses and imagination, while maintaining a touch of vintage” – Robbie Tee (Jamsphere)

Honey Beard is Toronto’s best kept secret in electronic pop” – Stephen Vincino (MusicExistence.com)

Honey Beard does an elegant job infusing pop musing with intuitive, classic electronic stylings” – Brett Stewart (The Independent Spotlight)

Band Members