Hana Brooks interview by Daisy Sells

Written by Daisy Sells

Discovered by Huw Stephens in 2016, and widely tipped to be an “emerging voice” in 2017, it is a completely different Hana Brooks that I met on a Saturday night in Earl’s Court before she played an opening set at The Troubadour.

Having started her career supported and guided my major management, 18 months ago the gutsy broad shed the persona that had been designed for her and ballsily took back the reins of her own career and stripped everything back in order to become the artist that, to me, she was meant to be.

Having seen the way that the 25 year old has reclaimed her own identity, I couldn’t help but chuckle when she sent me pictures of the artist formally known as Hana. In fact, looking at the over styled, sexed up version of the girl I now know, I had nothing to say to her in response other than, ‘BOOBS.’

Few have succeeded to pin down a description of Hana, she has been tagged as #thumping #synth, #BritishIndie, #indierock, #London, #pop, #Synthpop, #indie-pop #singersongwriter, with loose comparisons being made to artists including Haim and CHVRCHES. 

During our interview, I asked her to lay herself bare, there were some harsh truths – read on to discover her devastating allegiance to The Troubadour LA and, the fact that she apparently goes entirely nude at festivals… 

  • Apparently, Huw Stephens found you in 2016… were you lost? Yes, he found me down the back of his sofa. I was definitely lost musically at this time. I got a late-night play on his show after submitting a track to BBC Introducing.
  • When and why did you start playing/performing? I started performing from about age 11 by the time I was 14 I was sneaking my way into pubs to play open mic nights and supporting local bands. They all knew I was under age but just turned a blind eye to it.
  • What’s it like working solo after breaking away from your former management? The best decision I’ve ever made. I have achieved more in the past 18 months on my own than I ever have before. It was hard to break away for personal reasons and in the industry its like your taken more seriously having a “manager” and it opens more doors. But, actually, if you put in enough hard work, network like crazy and are absolutely relentless you’d be surprised how many people are responsive and have respect for you representing yourself. I’ve found its all about being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people to talk to.
  • What band name alter egos have to tried out on your musical journey? Big Cat Coma was probably the first one a band i had with my best friend (god knows what that means) but now she’s named her pub after it! Had an idea to start an all girl grunge band called Pussy Wagon (I joke!) But maybe that could be a go’er. Thought about changing my name from Hana to something more interesting and androgynous but I think if somebody called me by a different name id be like “who? me?”, I’m just used to my mundane name now. I ain’t cool enough to have a one word quirky stage name!! So i’ll just be Hana for now.
  • How would you pigeon hole yourself? I can’t do it. Someone asks me what’s your music like? i ain’t got a bloody clue mate. I just do what i do, i write songs that i want to play and enjoy it! People have tried to make me fit into many moulds and it just doesn’t work because ultimately i end up unhappy and it isn’t authentic. I try not to think about genre when I’m writing because it’s restrictive. One day i’ll wake up and write a sincere ballad the next day i might right a funk jazz motown inspired pop song. who cares as long as its true and you have something to say right? and its important to allow yourself to be free and set no boundaries so as a artist you can experiment and grow. So i don’t stress about. Label/manager folk are always banging on about consistences it’s all got to sound the same. I think that’d be a bit boring. what ever i do there’s one thing that is consistent sounding and that’s that it is ME.
  • Is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit? See i’d go with a cake cause its in the name. However it is a very misleading cake as it is biscuity in the sense its the size of a biscuit. I think i’m going to go to the supermarket and see what isle its in biscuit or cake maybes that’s where the answer lies. But…i suppose its whatever the jaffa cake is to you.
  • What is it like being a girl out in the harsh music industry alone? Some of the friction happens in the studio. I have found in the past sometimes as a girl —particularly in the studio — it can be hard to get your point across when it comes to the technical aspects, as music tech is a predominately a male industry.” But she says beyond that, she thinks, if anything, being a female in the industry has affected her career in a positive sense, “I wouldn’t say that being a female has effected my career in The slightest if anything it’s a bonus as there isn’t many females in pop doing what I’m doing.
  • What was the first tune(s)you learned? Smoke on The Water – deep purple. I think that’s pretty much everyones. When they pick up a guitar at 10 just the bass notes. First full song i learnt was “i shot the sheriff” Bob Marley and “Love me Do” The Beatles.
  • What is the most embarrassing song in your music library? I actually stumbled upon a song by Paris Hilton. This is a shady one from my much much much younger days. I don’t think i even liked it at the time but I just used to download and listen to EVERYTHING! – OH! I can now reveal that I too have had to answer this question and, the answer? Stars Are Blind, Paris Hilton!
  • How do you handle a fuck up on stage? Just carry on cause 9/10 nobody even knows you’ve fucked up!! Had to style out my guitar strap snapping last week. Just swung the guitar back round tucked it under me arm and carried on, just looked like i was doing some kind of guitar spin fail.
  • Who or what is your ultimate influence, musical or otherwise? I have a lot of influences musically i’d be here a while. Nirvana/Kurt Cobain is a big one i admire the simplicity, truth and dynamics musically. Amy Winehouse. I grew up listening to my Uncles music Frank Sinatra, Beatles, Stones, Dusty Springfield and 50’s Girl Groups Thats basically where i learnt to sing i’d always be singing along trying to sound like frank or dusty!!But Biggest influence in my life was my Nan. She never gave a shit about what anyone thought and thats a hard thing to do sometimes. I admire that.
  • What scares you most in the world? Social Media
  • Which Spice Girl would you be? A mixture of gezza and sporty spice [how many jokes I could make], love a bit of mel c. I used to love dressing up as Geri Halliwell as a kid…Why? i don’t know, but its weird to think of now, as I wouldn’t be seen dead in a dress.
  • Where and when would you travel back in time to perform? Summer 1968 The Troubadour Los Angeles. [I’m going to try and not tell Ian about this!]
  • If I gave you an elephant where would you hide it? I Wouldn’t be hiding it i’d want everyone to see it!! You just gave me a elephant thats amazing. I fucking love elephants.
  • If you could choose one song that you wish that you had written, what would it be? YMCA
  • If you could have anyone locked in a room so that you could torment them for a day, whom would you choose and how would you torment them? Olly Murs. I’m sure he’s a alright bloke cant judge cause I don’t know him BUT he just irritates me like no one else. I’d probably lock him a room and just play a 10 Hour loop of Jessie Nelson from little mix doing a Jamaican accent.
  • Why is a raven like a writing desk? I like ravens and i like writing desks.
  • What is your greatest vice? I’m a good girl don’t have one anymore.
  • If music is the answer, what is the question? Are You Crazy?
  • Tell me one thing that you wouldn’t want your mummy to know? To be fair me and my mum are pretty close she knows a lot of things i probably wouldn’t want her to know!!
  • What 10 things do you HAVE to pack for a festival? HAND SANITISER, Loo roll, toothbrush/paste, 0% beer, Vape, Tent, Sleeping bag, inflatable rubber ring, SNACKS and water. You know, practical shit.
  • How did you get to play at The Troubadour opening for Then Jericho’s Mark Shaw? Lovely Ian, from The Troubadour messaged me last minute to jump on a support slot. I love playing the troubadour its like a home from home for me in London. My next show at The Troubadour is Sunday 1st September.
  • You literally have an actual platform, being a girl in the world that we live in, what are you passionate about using it for? I want to make awareness of Alcoholism in young people. I have been an alcoholic and recovered when people say you’re so young? how? I think a lot of people see alcoholics and think they became alcoholics when they turned 50 but it starts really young. I think if you have a mental health condition alcohol can be abused to self medicate along with other substances and there should be more help out there for young people struggling with addiction and mental health conditions. This makes me thoroughly proud to know you. As someone who has battled with similar demons over the years, it’s super cool to hear anyone, especially someone of your age, speaking about issues rather than dancing around them or shrugging them off in a joking or sarcastic way. 
  • Normally, bafflingly, the last question that I like to finish on is the one that everyone least wants to answer… but, not Hana. On the pavement outside The Troubadour, just before a Saturday night gig, this happened…
  • Quote of our interview, “when I write I don’t sit down with a pen and paper it all tends to come out like vomit and the lyrics I’ve spewed only make sense when I listen to the recording back.”
  • Dear Hana, for what it’s worth, I think you manage yourself just fine. Dx 
 Daisy Sells
Twitter: @daisy_sells
Instagram: @sells.daisy

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