Bright eyed and energetic, Ms. Charm Taylor headlined the music group The Honorable South in a video that went viral around the city of New Orleans. Created by director Adam Gambrel, "Beast" is filled with masked characters and dimly lit brick alleys, highlighting this quirky, eclectic beauty and personifying the root of her stage name. In an intimate neighborhood music lounge, the band performs "Beast" adding elegance to the music video while unveiling the entire band of remarkable musicians.
After two albums and one on the way, The Honorable South has become the band to watch due to their animated performances and acquiescent nature. Consisting of guitarist Matthew Rosenbeck, bassist Charles Lumar II, Ms. Charm Taylor (vocalist and songwriter), drummer Jamal Batiste, and Danny Kartel (guitarist/producer), The Honorable South contentedly sat in their Esplanade Ridge home sharing the same fun loving, sibling-like dynamic that they comprise on stage. They were more than willing to sit down with Where Y'at to converse about their lives, music, and the future of the band.
Where Y'at: How did you initially meet?
The Honorable South: We met in a Frenchmen Street bar (Ms. Charm and Matthew). We ended up having a conversation about music and what we were interested in, and we shared like interests being that we both loved rock, electronic, and Matthew was once part of a metal band. From that first encounter, we instantly began to create music together, eventually expanding with more musicians.
WYAT: Some of the band members aren't native to New Orleans. What brought you to this musical city?
Mathew Rosenbeck: I came here on a tour with a punk rock-Jazz band in 1995 and started opening for a metal band at Tipitina's. I stayed here for a couple of months and ended up enjoying it here. I eventually moved back up north for 6 months, but the energy I experienced in New Orleans brought me back. I was culturally drawn to this city and I've been here ever since. It's been about 18 years.
Ms. Charm: I used to be a very fiery activist. I'm really into social justice. I came right after the storm with a group of students that were into disaster politics and rebuilding the city. I gutted homes, and I love the vibe I received from the community here. I knew I wanted to go into education or politics of some sort but I ended up going back to Los Angeles where I attended college. Eventually I moved back because, for whatever reason, I just couldn't shake New Orleans. Now I've been teaching writing and history to 6th graders for the last 7 years.
WYAT: You classify your genre of music as "Electric-Soul Rock n' Roll." How does this style fit in the local music scene of NOLA?
THS: I think this city is musically and culturally rich, but after a while, even though there's so much great music, you want some diversity. It took a little time for people to figure out how to categorize us. After a few years, we got into a groove where now people are saying, "Oh, we really like that."
It wasn't a brass band, it wasn't hip-hop or this or that, but people could still identify with the music we put out there. Maybe it's the younger generation, but, regardless, diversity and difference is good. We can't be all the same, all the time.
WYAT: There aren't many minority-based groups, especially in New Orleans, with a style that is as eclectic as The Honorable South. Have you ever shocked your audience with your style of music?
Ms. Charm: I love the moment when the guys would start setting up the guitars and checking sound and you just know that the crowd was expecting me to sing something like "Baby I Love You" by an artist like Alicia Keys; but then I start to sing with an electric rock style in the background. That's the shock I live for. People begin to realize we're coming from an entirely different space and that's always really enjoyable to watch. It's a testament to our creativity. But I must say we haven't had those experiences and responses recently.
WYAT: Where does your song writing inspiration come from?
THS: We are constantly listening to people talk about what they do on a daily basis. We call it "ear hustling" because we take those little snit-bits and speculate on what could have been the beginning middle and end of that story. With that said, we write more so about the experiences that we see around us as opposed to always writing about our personal lives.
WYAT: You're releasing an album this year entitled Faithful, Brave, & Honest. Have you decided on a release date?
THS: We definitely want to release it early in the year, but we have been working on so many creative projects and are continuously writing new material to the point where we are being told, "Stop writing songs." Right now we have two albums worth of music so we're still trying to figure out what's going where, etc.
WYAT: In closing, what would you like the world to know about The Honorable South?
THS: We come from humble beginnings and we have never had to steal or kill or cheat to achieve the goals we've set forth for ourselves. That in itself is inspiration for many others who are afraid to shoot for the stars because of where they're from. Mostly, we're ready to tour more, connect with the people of the world, and cross a few seas. We love what we do and we are just trying line up our stars and take our music to the moon and beyond.