Q&A | Rachel Mae Hannon

What’s the last song you listened to?

The last song I listened to was Hiatus Kaiyote – Red Room. I love this neo-soul band from Melbourne. I really admire how expressive the lead singer Nai-Palm is in her vocals, and how the band make their jazzy chord progressions sound so simple. I think each member of the band is so skillful in their own right. They always seem to have such fun performing which makes them so easy to listen to. 

What artist or album has gotten you through lockdown the most?

Tom Misch – Geography. I feel as though this album had a song for a lot of the emotions I was going through during lockdown. It had songs with the positive affirmation that you needed to pick yourself up when feeling low. For example,  ‘Disco Yes’ and ‘It Runs Through Me’ were perfect on the days that felt hopeless and monotonous. It also had slow-reflective songs like ‘Movie’ and ‘We’ve Come So Far’. As well as that, the album gave me such production and instrumentation inspiration while writing my own songs. 

What’s influencing your music right now?

There are so many things influencing my music right now. I think live performance coming back into our lives is certainly one. Music has changed from 2D to 3D for me. At the beginning of lockdown, I thought only about writing and creating sounds in order to have an end result – a song to listen to. But since I have started back gigging, I see the music I create in a new light. It makes me think of how the songs can be altered or shaped into something completely new in a live setting – all while basing them off their original constructs. It showed me that each step of the process is just as important as the next. You can always add to the building blocks to develop a work – but it is up to you to know when to stop.

I also think social media is heavily influencing my music right now. Seeing other like-minded (or unlike-minded) artists broadens your horizons when it comes to listening, creating and performing. 

As well as this, I think re-experiencing things for the first time in a while since restrictions have eased has influenced how I view myself and the wider world, and therefore how I create my music. Lockdown was a great time to be retrospective on life, and this inevitably influenced me and my taste and composition of music. 

Tell us about your new E.P., Like It Is, what was the inspiration behind the record?

My debut EP Like It Is is all about understanding my own emotions and the importance of communicating these with others. The EP explores a journey of being true to myself, of opening up, and saying it ‘like it is’.

I wanted the EP to have a dream-like quality in its sound, to express the passing thoughts I had throughout making it. I also wanted to create a work that I enjoyed performing and listening to myself, and have it as something that I will always look back on and be proud of.

Each of the tracks on the EP are my emotional responses to certain situations caught in time –  I see the work as a mini time capsule of my life. 

For example, the first track that was released from the EP was ‘Alright’. I wrote this song at a time of losing someone important in my life. Therefore the track focuses on our individual experiences of recovery, moving on, and our constant ability to rediscover ourselves. 

The second single from the EP was ‘Closer’, and this is about the frustration of not being able to have physical contact with people (especially during lockdown). It is about the longing to get closer to people, yet the uncertainty of where people’s boundaries lie. 

The unreleased tracks from the EP include ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Road’ (out on October 8th). These tracks explore the ideas of looking for reassurance in relationships and celebrating how we are somewhat sculpted by those we surround ourselves with. 

When we return to regular live gigging, what song from the E.P., are you most looking forward to performing? 

I am most looking forward to performing ‘Tell Me’ because I play piano on this track live, which has always been my comfort zone. I think this is because it is how I started composing music from a young age.

I’m also looking forward to performing this one because I think the lyrics are so honest. Although it’s a vulnerable song, I often find these are the most rewarding ones to perform as you are voluntarily sharing a little bit of yourself with the crowd. 

Rachel Mae Hannon will release her debut EP Like It Is on 8th October.