Interview with Hannah Schneider.
Copenhagen based singer and musician Hannah Schneider creates melancholic and playful pop, crafted with a love for the singer/songwriter tradition and a fascination with electronic sounds and samples. Hannah is inspired by her environment – the sounds surrounding her – and incorporates a diversity of instrumentation and timbre that includes the sound of drum playing on a kitchen table and that of a door closing, adding an unique dimension to the expertly constructed pop tunes. Her music is imbued with themes of melancholia and loneliness that are conveyed with an engaging charisma in her voice, instrumentation and expert arrangements. All of this is apparent in her live performances, with an added visual dimension, as she loops, sings and plays all kinds of intriguing instrumentation.
Hannah signed to Danish label Mermaid Records in 2009 and subsequently released two full-length albums – a self-titled debut in 2009 and 2012’s Me vs I.
As Hannah nears the finish of her 3rd album, Red Lines, due later this year, Lojinx releases Lay Of The Land. This 6-track EP is an introduction to Hannah’s shining talent with a selection of cherry-picked tunes serving as a taster – an entrée, if you will – to Hannah Schneider in the UK.
I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Hannah about her new album, her influences and her outlook on women in the music industry today. Find it below.
What can we expect from the new album? What was your inspiration? How is it different from your previous releases?
“My new album Red Lines is very open compared to my last album. On Me vs. I, I looked very much inwards, and worked with themes that were very personal. On Red Lines, I guess I’m looking out on the world and opening up a little more. This album is very much built by the different songs, more than an overall sound – I felt a great freedom in giving each song what it needed. Also I have gone from a “one-woman-army” who produced it all myself, to working with the two Danish producers Andreas “Maskinen” Sommer and Lasse Baunkilde, and of course that has changed the process a lot. I guess you can also actually hear a little more of a masculine sound mixed with my dreamy and feminine vocals. I like that mix.
“The songs have very different themes, and I have been inspired by everything around me – from a gripping Chinese contemporary art exhibit at the Hayward Gallery in London, to a lonesome walk in a storm in the Danish countryside. Since my last album, I had a baby girl, and I think that influences my writing a lot – not in the sense that the songs have all become lullabies or talks about diaper change, but more in the sense of the strength and empowerment it has made me feel to be a mother.”
What made you want to follow a career as a musician? Who/what has been your inspiration?
“I’m a third generation musician, and therefore music has been a really great part of my life always. I played classical piano and violin from the age of 4, but it was when I started in a choir that I realized what a great instrument the voice was. To be able to sing and create my own songs is the greatest feeling in the world, and luckily I still feel that way. My moms way of being a musician has inspired me a lot – she lives and breathes music, and is so focused on “the real thing”- the core of the music, and doesn’t really seem to see all the stuff around it.
“In my field there’s a lot of fantastic female artists that has been great inspiration. I have a broad taste in music, and people like Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, Imogen Heap, Jenny Wilson, Lykke Li and Robyn are all in their different ways truly great artists, and have inspired me in different ways.”
Which artists are you listening to right now?
“I love the Israeli/French singer Yael Naim, and always seem to come back to her two brilliant records. I also really like Banks, and I think her album is really inspiring and fresh. And Danish singer Mø is great for when you want to go out and about, and need a boost of energy!”
Who would you love to collaborate with and why?
“BECK! I think he is the most inspiring and versatile artist, and I wouldn’t mind writing a few songs with Damon Albarn either!”
Whats your opinion on women in the music industry today? Is it important to you to be a good role model?
“I think it’s important for all artist to be good role models, in the sense that you should be true to yourself, and aim to do what you feel is right. I think that striving to be great, and showing that girls can actually just as well play instruments or produce their music themselves is important to me.
“It really is old fashioned to think that a girl can’t look at a drum set or a computer without being confused, and I think that there’s a big change coming in these years. In Scandinavia a lot of self-made female artists are doing well, and I think that’s fantastic.”
What struggles have you faced as a female musician, if any? And how did you deal with it?
“I have often been looked at with doubt from sound techs when I showed up at venues with my one-man-band set up with pedals, samplers and keyboards. But the satisfaction of just showing that you can actually do it, and do it really well actually makes up for it most times.”
I see you have some upcoming tour dates. What should folks expect from a live Hannah Schneider show? What do you love most about being on stage?
“My songs are the core of my performance – I love to feel how they land with the audience. Also my solo shows are something that I’ve worked on a lot – I love how the audience becomes a part of the performance when you sample sounds from the room. In Denmark I’ll be playing a tour with my new band, and I’m very excited about that!”
And finally, what’s next for Hannah Schneider? Any plans to tour here in the UK?
“I am looking forward to see my album out in the open, and for the first time my music will be released in the UK – very excited about that! I will support El May on September 30th at The Green Note in London (TBC) and more shows are on the way.”
Red Lines will be released on October 27.