Discovery: The Sugar Honey Iced Tea


Published July 20, 2011




Don’t let the yearning and heartache in The Sugar Honey Iced Tea’s music fool you: the four girls in the band were giggling when they answered the phone, and their laughter was infectious. By the end of the interview, we were laughing as hard as they were. The Sugar Honey Iced Tea’s first EP, Hits the Fan, drops this Friday. The four girls have been playing their vocally-inspired folk all over Providence, Rhode Island, and are giddy at their fast-approaching release date. Their unique instrument combination—which includes a ukulele—and hauntingly beautiful, four-part harmonies converge for an original twist on the all-girl, indie folk band. We caught up with all four this week.

ON THE BAND’S NAME:EMILY SHAW: Kate doesn’t like cursing, so instead of saying “bitch,” she says “B.” And I was talking about how my mom, instead of saying, “shit,” says, “sugar honey iced tea.” We were talking about it one day and realized it would be the perfect name for our band.KATE JONES: Yeah, it’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek.

HOW IT ALL STARTED:SHAW: Providence is a pretty small place, as we’ve come to realize, and [the band] started pretty organically when we were drunk at a bar. And we came together with each of our respective instruments. But I can’t even say what the original impetus or inspiration was. I guess it was probably about a weird story we were all telling each other.



ON THE CREATIVE PROCESS:LAILA AUKEE: We usually write based on silly little stories we tell each other. We all play unique instruments, and sometimes it’s just that we each play a little bit on our instruments and something really musically layered and deep comes out of it.ANA MALLOZZI: I think that every song we’ve written so far has started as someone playing something, and someone will join in, and it just goes from there.SHAW: Once we have a little musical part, we are able to say, “What is this making us feel like?” and we’re able to go into some story about how a guy did us wrong. [laughs] JONES: We have an overall picture of the feeling we want to convey, and then we’re coming up with a melody and the lyrics to go along with it. And then we spend a lot of time to make sure it’s a full piece.AUKEE: I think the thing that we are most proud of is that we get our songs to sound full and complete, and that we can play them live that way.SHAW: Vocally we have a cool thing going on that we can pair up within the four of us, because our voices really complement each other well. So it’s not a format that we have so much. We’ve tried a number of combinations in terms of voices and instruments, and the outcomes are always pretty amusing.

ON THEIR POSTER (A PICTURE OF A FRIEND COVERED IN SUGAR, HONEY, AND ICED TEA):MALLOZZI: We decided to name the EP “Hits the Fan,” because “S.H.I.T. hits the fan.” We decided to have, instead of an actual fan, a literal fan of our music with sugar and honey and iced tea. So we were able to get our friend Nick Carr—SHAW: —future model[laughs]MALLOZZI: —to agree to get covered in the stuff. And everyone in the band is great at things outside music. So we all worked together to shoot the photo. And we put the poster up all over Providence. People don’t know if it’s a band or an arts movement or what.JONES: He’s wearing the t-shirt he made for our second show. He’s actually got maple syrup on him, not sugar.SHAW: Isn’t that what Hitchcock used for blood? [laughs]

BEATLES COMPARISONS:JONES: It wasn’t like we started out like, “Let’s become really big in Providence and make an EP.” We didn’t decide to make an EP until we had enough songs to make an EP. It’s about the music. [laughs]SHAW: Yeah, it’s all about the music, man. [laughs] And we’ve all figured out which Beatle we are. Laila’s Paul, Ana is John, Kate is George, and I am Ringo Starr. [laughs]