hannah barnett |musician
we met hannah at peckham levels, a funky multi-storey carpark that has now been transformed into a creative workspace. it was the perfect location for photos and a chat.
we first heard hannah's music via lucy grimble. we knew we had to meet her! chatting with her was so easy and effortless! we love her energy and passion for music. get to know more about hannah in the interview below.
Hello Hannah! Tell us where are you from and where do you live now?
My family and background is a mix of northerners and Scottish people, but I haven’t retained any fun accents as we moved to the south of England when I was 6. I live in south London now though definitely love putting different accents on for fun!
Haha! yes, we saw that on your Instagram highlights! nice French accent!
Do you remember when your love for music began?
My love of music started at age 8, when asked from the front at school if anyone wanted to learn the drums. I had that powerful feeling in your stomach where you just know it’s you. From then on I’ve tried more instruments, wrote my first song at 13, and done some production too. The songwriting bit is my favourite bit and biggest strength.
Which one of your songs do you feel most connected to and why?
Out of the few I’ve brought out so far is Nails. When I was writing and recording this, it really felt like bringing something to life that was inside my head. From always loving music and songwriting, as my first proper release, this felt like a birth and beginning of what I am wanting to make. I felt proud to bring it out at the time and it felt special to me. I realise now that I want to get that feeling wherever possible.
What are three key things you need to get you in a creative headspace?
What I have learnt in the past couple of years is ‘turn up and do’, from being thrown in at the deep end in writing sessions with producers who say “I’m just off to make a cup of tea, I want the verse when I come back”.
I used to constantly be recording voice note ideas at random points all day on my phone. I still do that sometimes, but learning to be able to draw from that deep or creative place whenever I want to, allows me to be more present wherever I am, and try to be there and enjoy it and be inspired by it, and don’t put pressure on myself.
To be in the right headspace, I like either silence (for the music bit) or general background noise (for lyrics). I write my best lyrics on the overground! Silence is like a canvas I feel I can paint what I like on. Sometimes I love influences, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I want to find people I sit on a musical shelf with to give me a hand, and sometimes I want no influence at all to just see what comes out of me. It is both having your own voice whilst being part of a community. I’ve had a whole life of so many influencing factors (not just musically but culturally, emotionally, in every sense), so silence is the perfect canvas on which to allow what is unadulterated HB to come out. Thirdly, for some reason if I find a new sound to play with that I like, my mind can suddenly shoot off into a whole song or melody or lyric. Especially lovely pianos in new places I haven’t been before, or maybe a new instrument, or a new guitar tone or synth sound that I like.
So maybe the short answer is, 1. Turn up to create, 2. Silence, 3. New sounds/instruments/environments
What does your music sound like?
Some of my current releases aren’t quite this but I’m moving towards it- songs that somehow remind you of a dramatic film score, and feel emotive and raw.
Do you have any routines when making music?
I often make nonsensical lyrics that have the exact sound I want to make at that time. I don’t really look to make things rhyme, but for it to flow and fit. I’ll sing as I play, and find it’s better not to limit yourself to normal words. Then I’ll find a lyric that fits that, and keep replacing it until I think it’s any good. One of these will help inspire the topic and then I’ll build around that, and keep replacing til it is coherent. I force myself for the lyrics to fit the gibberish I first came up with, or the flow just isn’t right. It’s tempting to cut corners (maybe I’ll add an extra syllable or something) but it is never as good so I am strict with myself and never regret it when I am!
What’s your journey with God been so far?
Up til recently I thought it was simple, turns out it’s complicated, but not in a bad way!
If you’ve experienced something difficult, I always thought I was supposed to throw on a brave face and be positive and thankful. Of course it’s good to be thankful, but pretending your emotions don’t exist can be both unhealthy and fake. We are not asked to pretend we don’t have emotions. Jesus never said “suck it up you sap, and tell yourself God is good”. He at times cried himself in empathy with his friends, and says “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. We need to go to him as we are to heal. God is about connection and showing what he is like, not just us being positive for the sake of it. If we deny our emotions, not only is this unhealthy but we miss this opportunity.
I’ve never just taken anything at surface level, which means both that emotionally there has been a lot to work through (recently I took the brave face off), and that I stay with him and work through because at it’s purest level, there is no other story in the world I have seen or heard more compelling, more convincing, more beautiful, more full of life or more real.
How does your faith inspire or change your music?
All that I have said above influences what comes out of me. The themes are often finding hope in anguish, and I want to further explore sonically and lyrically how to express and create something which is compelling, convincing, beautiful, full of life, and real.
What is one of the things you find particularly important for Christians to do/be today?
Look for the humanity in people and listen to them and be kind to them. Most of the time people don’t need telling off, they need love and help, and showing that there’s a better way.
We believe God puts dreams and desires in our hearts. What is one of your biggest dreams?
To feel like I am continually becoming a more whole, healed and loving person. To do a film soundtrack. To feel as though I have positively impacted culture. To be nominated for an award. Most random dream of all is to be a voice in a Pixar film! Sorry that wasn’t one..!
And completely opposite, what is one of your biggest fears?
What helps you overcome that fear?
Spending time with people that encourage me.
One thing you’d like to accomplish before 2018 ends.
To have completely finished a new EP I am working on by myself. To be really proud of the results and excited about the next steps from there.
On a lighter note
We have readers from outside of the UK, what are 3 things they need to do when visiting London.
Go to an area in North, West, East, South West, and South London. This is how you get a flavour of what London is like and a slice of its true character. Atmospheres in different places are so interesting.
Have a roast at a pub
Do not go in a red phone box because they smell like toilet
Three things you’re consuming right now (ie: book/music/Netflix show)
Top of the Lake (beautiful, poignant crime drama)
Designated Survivor (terrible, discontinued crime drama)
Love Island (glorious and vacuous trash- sorry not sorry)