Hey Hannah welcome to DMCWORLD…where on planet earth are you today?
Hi Dan, I am my studio in Hackney!
What was the last piece of music you listened to before this interview?
I just had lunch in the studio cafe and they were playing Etta James’s “At Last” album. Such a killer record, I know it so well – so lunch was dragged out until the album finished!
Big news for you right now with your new track ‘It Ain’t Right’ smashing it everywhere – please talk us through the sound and history of the track…
Thank you! I am so proud of this track. It started as a concept in my head – I wanted a song that had a really drastic beat switch – that contrasted from beauty to hardness unexpectedly. I feel that sometimes we are all a bit numb and need a musical slap in the face to wake up, you know? The lyrics of the song are about a serious subject – they are about being in an unhealthy relationship to someone/something – acknowledging the fact – but choosing not to do anything about it. Surrendering, giving up hope. I personally wrote it about an unhealthy relationship, but I think people will be able to relate to this in lots of different ways.
You have been a keyboard player for many years, something that you loved and working with the likes of Rihanna, Jessie J and Gnarls Barkley. Was there ever that niggling thought in the back of your mind that you wished it was you out front, or was there some self doubt in there somewhere?
Honestly, I never thought about me doing my own music. I never thought it was possible, I never thought I had enough to say! Now in hindsight I realize that of course deep down I was dying to get my own music out. And I am so happy that I got the opportunity to do it, to do THAT. It is so rewarding digging deep, being in tune with myself and then turning those feelings into music. It does mean that I am an emotional wreck now though, but I guess that goes with the territory, ha!
You’ve appeared at such vast venues as Madison Square Garden and Wembley Arena…most performers would be daunted taking to these stages as solo artists…if the chance ever arose would there still be butterflies?
Are you kidding? I would brick it!! I don’t think my nerves will ever go away – but I don’t think this is a bad thing. You use the nerves and turn it into adrenaline on stage. Also, the nerves make you hypersensitive and aware – so if things go wrong, you can react fast. But to answer your question – yup, if I ever get to hit those stages the amount of butterflies would be insane!!!
Okay let’s rewind for a moment. So, you are Indian, born and raised in Berlin, own a German passport, used to have a heavy American accent due to the school you went to and now live in the UK! Wow! How did your family end up living in Germany?
Ha! Yup, I’ve had a confusing upbringing, to say the least! My dad moved to Berlin from Bangalore as a foreign worker in the 70’s. 3 years later he decided he needed a wife – an arranged marriage with my mom was organized and she moved to Berlin. 35 years later and they are still going strong!
What is your first memory of music growing up?
I think my first memory of music was hearing hymns sung in church! Also, my uncles were all music fans, so I grew up in India listening to Pink Floyd and Dire Straits!
Berlin is probably the leading city for clubbing at the moment. Do you ever go back, has the city changed much since your childhood there?
My parents still live in Berlin, so I go back at least a few times a year. I love Berlin! It is becoming more and more of an international hub. The ‘going-out’ culture is also very different in Berlin – we don’t really get to the clubs until 2am and always end the night with breakfast around 7am – it’s much more chilled out – it’s just about hanging out and listening to great music!
The number 21 you admit is your family’s lucky number. What’s the story there?
My mom, brother and sister all have their birthdays on the 21st. And for some reason, good things always seem to happen on the 21st for us. My parents got their first car on the 21st, I got accepted to my school on the 21st, my mom got her job on the 21st – the list just goes on and on. I signed my record deal on the 21st and just last month I got a cheque I had been waiting for for 5 months – on the 21st!!
I know you love Kendrick, Drake, Erykah Bady and Emelie Sandé…who else can we add to that list of artists you’d love to jump into the studio with?
Add Rihanna, Beyonce, The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko, Kehlani, Kwabs and Sampha – now these would be some dope studio sessions!
So we drift back to yours after the club and ask you to play us a Hannah V ‘Back To Mine’ set to chill the vibe. Who are some of the artists you play us?
Alright, it’s all about some chilled out, wind down, night cap type o’ songs, so you would get a mixture of Doja Cat, Sango, The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko, Janine and the Mixtape, Jamie Woon, SPZRKT, Jack Garrett – this should keep us entertained for another hour or so – at which point I would kick you all outta my crib, cus girl needs to sleep!!!
Not many people know this, but Hannah V is really good at…
Procrastinating. Like, I am a master at this. My procrastination is so meticulous, that I actually end up achieving stuff – for example, I learnt how to solve a Rubix Cube, just because I did not want to tune some vocals….
The last GREAT…
Film you saw – Trainwreck – Hilare!!!!
Gig you went to – I went to an acoustic jazz gig on Sunday – Shoshana Bean was singing – it was great!
Book you read I run a musicians book club!! Wanna join? We are currently reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s – The Namesake – she is one of my favorite authors.
DJ you danced to “While all my closest friends are out partying, I’m just here making all the music that they party to….” Nuff said, I haven’t danced to a DJ in a while!
Album you picked up – Drake’s and Future’s “WATTBA”
What artist that you have performed with gave you the most goosebumps?
So many! I am really lucky, I have played with some amazing singers. I teared up every time Jessie J sang “Nobody’s Perfect” – it’s just such a good song. That’s a lot of tears, I played w her for 3 years lol! I got goosebumps every time Rihanna sang “Unfaithful” – everytime she sang: “He’s more than a man, this is more than love, the reason why the sky is blue” I welled up. Those lyrics man. Again, a lot of tears – we were on tour for a year! I got goosebumps galore playing with Lalah Hathaway – Donny Hathaway’s daughter. Donny is a massive influence for me and she sounds JUST like him when she sings in her lower register. Every time Andreya Triana is in the vocal booth, I get goosebumps/start to cry. Her voice just hits me in the stomach.
So, in summary – I get goosebumps all the time! My body has such an emotional reaction to music – I hope I never lose this.
And finally, what is coming out next from you studio wise?
Lots of stuff!! I am already working on my next single that will come out early next year. I am also writing and producing with other artists – I just finished a super dope moody track with Andreya Triana that will be out in a few weeks. My home slice Cherri V is currently working on an EP featuring some of the UK’s best female singers – I’m producing some tracks on that. I’ve also got a dope remix coming out for Al.ani – one of my favourite singers – can’t wait for that to drop. I am constantly in sessions with singers and working on remixes and beats – just keeping the creative juices flowing, you know? The more I produce the better I get, the stronger my intuition gets and the more confident I become – so not one day is a waste of time!