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First Listen: HANAH 'Watch The World in Detail'

In this First Listen feature we spoke to Bristol-based artist HANAH about her debut EP Watch The World In Detail released in March.


For HANAH, who has been recording music since she was 13, this new EP is a portrayal of her progression in music. Growing up she was listening to an array of genres from indie and folk on her dad’s vinyl collection to illustrious rap albums from her brother such as Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner. Equipped with solid foundations to build an eclectic library, she seems to possess a deftness in carrying this variety of sound into the music she makes today. Whether that is through a diverse blend of neo-soul jazz and gospel, experimental folk, electronica, or even opera.


I was introduced to HANAH’s dynamic melodies while listening to Louis Culture’s Smile Soundsystem EP on a track titled “Hanah Says Hi”, after that it became clear I needed to keep an ear out for more from the artist. Fast forward a few months and I receive an email from a publisher at Saffron Records telling me about a ‘Bristol-based newcomer’ who was to release her first EP, and as it turns out that newcomer happened to be HANAH.



First Listen

It was one of spring’s first cloud-free days when I finally listened to HANAH’s EP; what seemed to be the perfect moment to enjoy it as HANAH’s serene vocals fit synonymously with the fresh spring air and beaming sun. As HANAH unspools each lyric with a cool conviction it’s easy to feel transported to a different time and different place.


Each song on her EP feels like a change in the tides, both in a musical and personal sense. Her sound is reinforced with production elements that are spacious and textured, reminiscent of James Blake or Bonobo. The production is led by a folky-acoustic loop on “Lovebook” as she delivers her authentic self through intimate lyrics guided by bewitching vocals. HANAH also demonstrates her ability to experiment with new sounds on her single “Watch The World in Detail” – released ahead of the EP, the track is a perfect example of this musical ability coming together. Naturally, the track has already received a fair bit of attention with plays from NTS, Worldwide FM, SWU, Soho Radio and Netil.



Artist’s Perception

HANAH: “I made ‘Watch The World in Detail’ around three years ago, when I didn’t really know what producing even was – I didn’t actually know what that entailed. So the track is fairly symbolic of my journey into production. Although I’ve been recording since I was 13, maybe even younger... About 7 or 8 years now. But, in terms of production this was the first time I’ve made a full song. ‘Lovebook’ represents another stepping stone in my production where I started to use acoustic loops and clips… I love using strange sounds like hearing a breath or someone talking in the background and using that as ambience. I find 'Lovebook' really showcases that. For the record to be released via Saffron is another aspect which is special because I've been given an incredible platform to put it out on. ‘Maid Of Smoke’ and ‘Luxton' were made during lockdown last year, I think that’s my most advanced work in terms of production... All of the tracks represent me in different stages of my life, which is so important for me, especially that I have done the work myself – it’s produced by me, it’s my love child, my baby, I’ve wished this into existence and here it is.”


HANAH mentions the impression that musical mavens such as Hiatus Kaiyote's vocalist Nai Palm and Scottish pop trio Cocteau Twins had on her music. “My dad still constantly shows me new and old artists that are ahead of their time, a lot of cinematic sounds. I have this idea of passing down sound and I feel like my music really showcases that. Using my voice as an instrument is something that has come quite natural to me”. Raised in Eastbourne on the British coast, the sea has inevitably influenced HANAH’s sound. Talking about the impact of her hometown HANAH says “Going back [to Eastbourne] last December I made loads of ambient music. I was using all these old guitars from when I was learning to play and realised that my whole life I’ve never had a guitar with a full set of strings. Basically that’s me learning my own style in a natural way, which starts with these rusty guitars and it just reminds of things like hearing a seagull in my garden or going on walks and writing by the sea. Water is a common feature in my music.“.


First Watch

HANAH extends her creativity beyond just songwriting and production, with the visuals for both “Lovebook” and Maid Of Smoke” made by HANAH herself, along with the aid of frequent collaborator, Fleur Adderley. The creative input presented alongside HANAH’s EP is in perfect conjunction to HANAH’s musical style with a similar innovative approach – for example, the video for “Lovebook” was filmed through a pink scarf.


Tracklist:

1. Lovebook

2. Watch The World In Detail

3. Luxton

4. Maid Of Smoke



Written, produced and performed by HANAH

Backing vocals on “Watch The World In Detail” by Wilf Penrose / Mixed by Sogyal Verquin / Mastered by Katie Tavini




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