Interview: Hannah Slavin

Hannah Slavin, Photo: Andy Low

Hannah Slavin was tipped by BBC Introducing as one of their ‘Ones To Watch’ in 2020, and she certainly hasn’t let us down. The Scottish singer-songwriter describes herself as a very sassy writer whose songs come from the heart and are almost like reading a page in her diary. They’re “very personal, very in-your-face, and sometimes quite savage and brutal, but also very fun”, she says, before summarizing her music as “sassy, fun pop songs”. 

Hannah Slavin struggled a lot in lockdown, saying that she “went through so much uncertainty and loneliness” where she didn’t know what she was supposed to be doing with her life anymore. These feelings inspired her newest single ‘I Don’t Have A Clue’. She explains that writing this song was very cathartic, as “writing it just kind of provided comfort for me, but I think also provided a lot of comfort for other people knowing that they’re not alone and feeling that way. I felt like it was very much a universal thing. A lot of people lost their identity during lockdown because they weren’t able to do anything and felt very lost and uncertain. I feel like writing the song was definitely a kind of release for me. I feel like it’s okay not to know what you’re meant to be doing. So I’m glad that I wrote a song like that to be able to express how I felt during lockdown.”

Luckily, Hannah was able to adapt to the difficulties she faced during lockdown. At first, she felt as if she was losing her identity by not being able to do music in the same way as before. She describes 2020 as “a complete blur of feeling rubbish about everything”, but has now gotten used to this new normal. She now does studio sessions over Zoom and has seen people booking gigs again, which gives her a sense of normality. 

Despite her struggles, Hannah’s not sure how she feels about lockdown being over. She’s excited to be getting more gig and show offers, but also feels like she’s not ready. She has social anxiety and needs some time to get used to performing again.

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Lockdown has given Hannah the opportunity to become more independent in producing her music, as she’s had to set up her own studio at home. “I’ve kind of been forced to learn how to produce my own music, record my own music, write by myself and just kind of become more independent with my writing. And so yes, I feel like I’ve kind of like learned a lot, or been forced to learn a lot about doing it by myself. And I feel like that’s definitely made me a better musician, and more confident as a writer as well.” she says. 

When asked if she will retain her newfound independence post-lockdown, Hannah says that she’ll be doing a mixture of work at home and at the studio. “The energy in a studio, I cannot create that energy at home on my own. I will do more writing at home, I’ll create more demos at home on my own, but in terms of actually finishing a song, like I think it will need to be done in a studio. So yeah, I think I definitely still go to the studio. I just won’t feel as much pressure to go everyday.”

Hannah Slavin has always been very passionate about other aspects of music, such as the branding and videos. She works very closely with the writers, directors, and film crew to design her own music videos. “It’s like making a mini-movie where you’re kind of the star of your own show,” she tells the Indiependent. “I love being able to bring the song to life and create a vision or a story that goes along with the song”

Hannah’s music videos are extremely creative and their inspiration comes from many different places. She is influenced in particular by 90s children’s shows. Her music video for ‘I Don’t Give A F*** About You’ is drawn heavily from Lizzie McGuire and other 90s rom-coms and preteen TV programs. For her very first video, for ‘I’m a Mess’, she had to work with a tight budget and structures the video around her own experiences of “being a mess” and what she does day-to-day to survive as a mess. She has yet to create a music video for ‘I Don’t Have A Clue’, but says it would include “a collage of different people in lockdown or feeling isolated … but then, at the end of it, we’re all connected and feeling the same way of being alone.”

In addition to releasing her new single ‘I Don’t Have A Clue’, Hannah has also released a remix with American rapper BRose. The story of how this collaboration came to be is quite remarkable. Hannah tells the Indiependent that “I have recently found TikTok and I am a huge Charlie Puth fan. I came across this guy who had done a duet with Charlie Puth over one of his songs, and it was the most incredible rap I probably ever heard. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I was speaking to the team, and I was like, I really, really want to get this rapper on a song, do you think it would fit for the song that we’re doing at the moment, and they were like, there’s no harm in trying. So we reached out to him, sent him the song, and he absolutely loved it. The next day, he had already sent back his verse.” 

Hannah was touched that BRose was immediately able to connect to the emotions expressed in her song and wanted to put his own message on it. “I think that is such a magical experience, when two people on the other side of the world are feeling so alone, but also completely connected in how they’re feeling. I just thought it was such an exciting experience to be able to release a song with someone I’ve never met, someone I really admire and wanted to work with. I think it’s so special.”

In addition to BRose, Hannah’s dream collaboration would be Charlie Puth. She would also like to work with American artist Remi Wolf, who she describes as “just really unique and really fun”. Finally, her third dream collaboration is Sigrid, who has recently started releasing music again. Although she’s a big fan of all of these artists, she says that her main influences are not specific artists, but rather “musicians and artists who just own who they are, who are completely unapologetically themselves and don’t really take it from anyone.” 

After months of not having a clue, Hannah Slavin finally knows she wants for her career moving forward. “I think this year, I definitely want to continue releasing as much music as possible. I’m planning on doing quite a lot of releases this year, which is really exciting. I’ve got some festivals booked later this year, which I’m really excited about. And hopefully next year, I’ll be able to do as much performance as possible. So I’m kind of looking at the future as full steam ahead. I’m ready to do everything and anything, and I just want to do as much music as possible and not stop ever again.”

Hannah’s music is available on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Apple Music. You can also follow Hannah Slavin on her journey on Instagram.

Words by Emma Bainbridge

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