“Best Bets: Kent duo finds sweet success with Honey Badgers” – Craig Horleman – August 17 2012 Delaware State News (Dover, DE)
Going into their first gig together at one of the Delaware Friends of Folk Coffeehouses last year, Erin Magnin and Michael Natrin felt like they had what it took to advance for a chance to perform at the annual Delmarva Folk Festival.
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They had everything — except a name.
“When they signed us up, they said ‘How should we introduce you?’ We had been watching that YouTube video on the honey badger earlier that day and that was the first thing that popped in my mind,” said Ms. Magnin, a Dover native and Caesar Rodney High grad.
“It’s so silly but it’s stuck. We thought about changing it but really weren’t able to come up with anything else that we liked.”
Thus The Honey Badgers were born.
The contemporary folk duo ended up in the semifinals the weekend of the folk festival performing during the first night of the two-day affair.
“It started out as a one-time thing. Michael had a bigger band The Battleshy Youths and wanted to try out for the festival. But they mostly look for smaller sounds so he asked me to play violin for some of their songs,” said Ms. Magnin, who had sat in with the band in the past.
The “one-time thing” has now lasted more than a year, garnering them a following up and down the state and into Pennsylvania with their tight harmonies and influences who include Ingrid Michaelson, Regina Spektor, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan.
They have already been co-winners of WSTW FM’s 2011 Hometown Heroes Homey Award for Best Collaboration and they took first place at UD’s Battle of the Bands this spring.
They’ve also recorded an EP called “Booth Bay” and contributed to a Christmas album as well.
To top off their whirlwind year, The Honey Badgers will compete later this month in the prestigious Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival at World Cafe Live at The Queen in Wilmington.
They will go up against 20 other bands during the four-day festival, with their chance to shine coming at 9:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31.
Already a hit in Philadelphia, this is the first year the contest has come to Wilmington.
The winner gets a raft of prizes, including production software, graphic design services, a promotion package and music gift cards.
But more than anything, it gives exposure.
“We’re just looking to meet people and reach out to a bigger audience who will hopefully like our music,” said Ms. Magnin.
“Obviously winning would be amazing but we are going up against five bands for four nights so anything is possible.”
The two have been aware of each other since 2007 when Ms. Magnin attended Caesar Rodney High School and Mr. Natrin went to Smyrna High.
“We knew each other through mutual friends but I went away to (Catholic University) after high school. When I came back and enrolled in Delaware, we met up again,” Ms. Magnin said.
A longtime violin player in mostly the classical vein, Ms. Magnin had put down her bow in college to focus more on voice. But she was prompted to pick it up again by Mr. Natrin.
“I definitely noticed at first that I hadn’t played in a while. So I had to sort of relearn to play but I learned in a different way which was fun. It wasn’t just Mozart,” said Ms. Magnin, who also plays the harmonium and glockenspiel while Mr. Natrin strums the guitar and mandolin.
As the months have gone by, Ms. Magnin has taken a more prominent role in the group, sharing songwriting and singing duties with Mr. Natrin.
The two took part in this year’s February Album Writing Month, an exercise that challenges musicians to write 14 songs in a month’s time. Online forums help aspiring writers with encouragement and tips.
“I wasn’t much of a songwriter so it was pretty intense. The idea is that if you come up with 14 good songs, then great. But if you only come up with five songs, than that’s OK too,” she said.
Each of them wrote 14 songs, some are in their repertoire now. Shows now include current songs and ones written by Mr. Natrin on “Booth Bay.”
“I hope Michael doesn’t mind me saying this but I sort of feel like they are all our songs now that we have been singing them for so long,” Ms. Magnin said.
The Honey Badgers need all of the material they can get as their grand experiment has grown to the point where they are playing longer shows and finding a good rhythm.
“We’re actually getting gigs not by seeking them out. People around the Delaware music scene are coming to us and asking us to play which is really fun,” she said.
Along with being part of The Honey Badgers, Ms. Magnin is also known by Miss Delaware fans as being a longtime member of that program, participating in four pageants.
She believes this past June’s event may have been her last.
“You never say never but I think at this point I’m done competing,” she said.
“Although I don’t think I’ll ever be truly done with the organization and I definitely want to give back to them.”
While Mr. Natrin has graduated, Ms. Magnin still has one more year to go at Delaware. After that, she plans to student teach and hopefully get a job leading a high school choir or in elementary music education.
And if The Honey Badgers hit it big, that’s OK too.
“I’ve never been motivated by money but if we can become rich music stars, sure why not?” she said with a laugh.
For Craig Horleman’s updated, expanded Best Bets anytime, subscribe to his Best Bets blog.
“Newark Bands: Making Noise” – Krista Connor – June 2012 Out & About Magazine (Wilmington, DE)
“In the meantime, front man Natrin plays acoustic guitar and sings in a duo with University of Delaware student, violinist, and pianist Erin Magnin. This self-described Americana-singer-songwriter duet has been together for a little more than a year, but already have been co-winners of WSTW’s 2011 Hometown Heroes contest, and they took first place in UD’s Battle of the Bands this spring. They’ve also recorded an EP called Booth Bay. They’re currently working on a full-lenth album and recording a second EP. How did they come up with their name? Well, the first time they performed together – last July – they competed for a spot in the annual Delmarva Folk Festival, held in Clayton, Delaware. “When they asked us what our name was, we realized that we hadn’t yet thought about it,” Natrin says. Earlier that day, they had been watching the popular “Crazy Nasty Ass Honey Badger” video of a honey badger with a comical voiceover on YouTube. With honey badgers still on their minds, they decided on the band’s name in the spur of the moment. They’ve thought about changing it to something more serious, but for now The Honey Badgers has stuck.
“Musikarmageddon Is On!” – Matt Amis – June 2012 Out & About Magazine (Wilmington, DE)
Before anyone asks – yes, The Honey Badgers take their name from the ubiquitous and hilarious YouTube sensation. But unlike the titular badger, “Our music is very caring,” says Michael Natrin. “Lots of love songs and songs about problems in the world.” The folksy duo – whose other half is singer/multi-instrumentalist Erin Magnin – met as undergrads at the University of Delaware.
“UD duo play annual Delmarva Folk Festival” – Tyler Wildrick – October 10, 2011 in The Review (Newark, DE)
CLAYTON, Del. — A long pathway in the woods of Clayton, Del. opened up to a small clearing, welcoming festival-goers of all ages to the 20th annual Delmarva Folk Festival on Friday and Saturday.
The festival was hosted by the Delaware Friends of Folk, a non-profit organization dedicated to local folk musicians. Vendors, a merchandise tent and food and beer distributors were scattered across the festival grounds.
The stage, decorated with tie-dyed sheets and multi-colored lights strung along the sides, featured performances by local bands that had won coffeehouse competitions over the past few months for a chance to perform at the festival. Musicians competed Friday night to play in the festival’s main line up on Saturday, along with a cash prize and a recording session.
One such band is comprised of university seniors Michael Natrin and Erin Magnin—a folk-acoustic duo called The Honey Badgers. They took the stage Friday night, Natrin dressed in a suit and bow tie and Magnin in a white dress. Natrin picked up his guitar as Magnin held her violin, and the duo started the show.
“Can you hear me out there? Staying warm? Drinking lots of beer?” Natrin asks the audience, followed by a raucous response from the crowd.
Festival-goer and Dover resident Nick Pettoruto, 26, says he appreciated the band’s authenticity and originality.
“They didn’t do a whole lot of covers—did stuff that was real,” Pettoruto says. “They clicked together. They were truly original.”
The Honey Badgers continued their set and some songs picked up with a faster tempo, dominated vocally by Natrin’s lyrics and quick guitar chords accented by Magnin’s violin.
“It’s a pretty diverse crowd we wouldn’t normally get to play for,” Natrin says. “Not like up in the Newark-Wilmington area.”
Seaford resident Lynne Betts, 53, says that her favorite part of the festival was witnessing the festival-goers’ encouragement for the bands.
“I think it’s awesome to be so supportive of the local talent—it’s really touching,” Betts says.
Q&A with The Honey Badgers
How long have you been playing music?
Natrin: In general, my whole life. My band Battleshy Youths started up in 2011 and we play shows around Newark and Wilmington. The Honey Badgers is just the duet form of the band—we strip down songs into acoustic guitar and harmonies, and write songs that are more fitting for that very basic folk duet sound. Erin sings and fiddles with Battleshy Youths sometimes too, but the other members are Mitchell Ebbott, Andrew Johnston and Andrew Deinert — all UD alumni.
Magnin: I’ve been playing violin since I was 7, and this was a change and I’m a music major so I play and listen to music pretty much all day.
How did you come up with your band name?
Magnin: We arrived at the semi-finals in Dover and in all the excitement had forgotten a name, so we named ourselves after the YouTube video “Honey Badgers.” It’s a really funny video.
How would you describe your music style? And who are your musical influences?
Natrin: Contemporary folk—The Mountain Goats and the Decemberists.
Magnin: Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, Rufus Wainright, Jenna Marbles and Ingrid Michaelson.
Tell me something quirky or weird about yourselves.
Natrin: I feel like everything we do is weird. We meow a lot.
Magnin: We do lots of weird things—doodling. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing when everything you do is weird.
What is the band working on right now?
Natrin: We are hoping to release The Honey Badgers’ EP “Booth Bay” by mid-November. It is a compilation of songs that Erin and I wrote throughout the summer, and focuses on travel and nature and the complications of living lives that aren’t capable of pleasing everyone. We just finished up recording a split Christmas CD with The Paper Janes and some other friends—we’re looking to release that by mid-to late-November as well. It’s a 12-track compilation of Christmas classics, some modern covers and some original tunes. It will be available online and in local shops. We’re selling it as a benefit for a Christmas-y nonprofit.