Hannah V is a multi-faceted artist. As a classically trained pianist turned beatmaker, she's toured the world with the likes of Rihanna and Gnarles Barclay, and she didn't stop there. Having signed to Sony Records, Hannah V is on her way to making it with her own music, changing perceptions of female producers in the industry in the process.
We caught up with Hannah to premiere her new acoustic track with Simon Glancy of The Escapists. Hannah tells us, "with this acoustic version, I really wanted to bring across the desperation of the lyrics of "It Ain't Right". Even though the original is so uptempo, the topic conveys a darker message of surrendering yourself to your vices. You know that it is ultimately going to be your downfall, but you cannot resist it."
On working with Glancy, Hannah says "I couldn't think of anyone better than Simon to sing this version - his voice is so beautiful and haunting!".
Check out the track below, and keep scrolling to read our interview with Hannah.
COZY MAG: Hey Hannah! Let’s kick things off with a bit of background on yourself. You signed to DJ Target’s Sony Imprint “Pitched Up” a while back- How did that come about?
Hannah V: Hey Guys! Ok, so I am a pianist, I was playing all through my childhood in Berlin and ended up moving to London to study Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music. I left Uni, had odd jobs here and there for a few years and then ended up slowly getting into session playing and touring for pop artists.
I started learning more and more about production through the various artists I was on the road with when Felix Howard, an old friend and my current AnR, heard the music and spoke to Sony about me. I went in for a meeting and I guess made a good impression, as I signed shortly after! I really never expected it to happen! That was 2 years ago now, and here we are!! It’s not been an easy or straightforward journey, but I am so so happy going into the studio every day and getting the whacky sounds out of my head into the computer! Onwards and upwards!
CM: You were classically trained as a pianist before getting into production. Where would you say you draw your biggest influences?
HV: I played classical piano as a child, but then gave that up when I became a teenager! Piano lessons were on a Friday evening, and I couldn’t cope with that, ha! I fell in love with Jazz at that point, so only concentrated on that. I draw my influences by just living life and being super aware, you know?
Of course, I listen to loads of music - I am a proper music fan and go hours and hours a day listening to music - on the way to the studio and back, whilst I am chilling etc. But I also get really inspired by non musical situations - like hearing friends/family talk, just walking down the street and of course personally going through my daily struggles, as we all do! I put all of that energy into my music.
CM: What took you from classical piano to making beats?
HV: I was kind of an MTV kid, you know? I was always watching music videos, listening to radio, etc as a child. Even when I was studying jazz, I always was drawn towards knocking beats and great vocal hooks. The second I learned how to program drums, I was hooked!
CM: We heard you’ve played keys for a few big names in music, namely Rihanna. What was that like and how does it feel now to be focusing on your own career?
HV: Touring the world and playing for artists such as Riri was an absolutely phenomenal experience! One of the best moments of the Ri tour was when Eminem was our special guest at the Staples Centre when “Love the Way you Lie’ was dominating the charts - moments like these are indescribable! I’ve toured the world many times now and have seen some amazing corners of the earth, it truly was a blessing. I love traveling so much anyways, so to be able to do that as a job was so fun.
I was on the road hard for 7 years - so when the opportunity came for me to truly work on my own music, I did not hesitate. You have to take risks to reap real rewards! It was emotional for me, putting my suitcases away and saying good bye to the session world, but honestly - there is no better feeling for me now than making my own music. I absolutely made the right choice.
CM: Was this always the path you wanted to take? Did you ever want to be anything else?
HV:When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor! I even took latin classes etc, but then jazz got a hold of me and it was a wrap! I still have a lot of of other passions I want to pursue further down the line though! I love cooking, so I want to definitely write a cook book! I also love literature as well, so I want to write properly at some point as well. But music is and always will be my first choice of drug!!
CM: What do you think about the producer-game being predominately male? Does this push you to work harder?
HV: Yeah, there are currently not a lot of female producers, especially not in the more urban genres - but things are slowly changing. It definitely can be challenging being in a male dominated profession - it takes people a second to believe that I make beats, have a studio and have clients in and out of it all the time! The perception is that women generally are top liners or singers, so it’s really important for artists such as me to be vocal about this, you know? Once people see me working and realise that I am good at what I do, I usually get full support.
So, the word just has to be spread, there needs to be more awareness and all of us female producers have to support and encourage each other. Education is key! I am always looking out for the younger generation of female producers, as I want to, no, I HAVE to be an active part of this change, ya know?
CM: Where do you see your music down the line? What is an ultimate goal for you?
HV: The one thing I have learned about being in the game for a second, is that you can never predict the future! So, I have learned to change my goals and perception a bit. If I can keep making music that I am into, work with artists that inspire me and pay the rent doing this, I am GOOD!
Everything else is a bonus. Ultimately, my goal is to stay true to myself and inspire others to do the same. It’s all bigger than music, you know? Music is a very powerful platform and can change lives. I really believe that, even if it sounds a bit cheesy! I’m trying to fight the good fight over here - hopefully it will all pay off in the end!
CM: What can we expect from you in the future?
HV: Just lots and lots more music. Music under my name, productions for other great artists, remixes for some of my friends - I am so excited about next year!! So many great things in the pipeline. I would also really love to take my music live.