Hannah White interview
Hannah White interview
Singer Hannah White tells us about the personal story that inspired her latest album, heading to Glastonbury, and what’s next for her grassroots music venue in Sutton…
Hannah White and her guitarist husband Keiron Marshall are an inspirational duo. Not only have they taken their music venue Sound Lounge from strength to strength, from its crowdfunded beginnings in Tooting to a major success story in Sutton, but they’ve also had rave reviews for their own music.
Their new album, About Time, came out in May and they are on a tour that includes playing at Glastonbury. “It’s our first year at Glastonbury and it’s so exciting. Everything is happening so quickly and we’re just living in the moment. It feels like the world is waking up again to live music after the lockdowns, which is terrific.”
The tour will then head out to Norway, and see them support Ricky Ross in the autumn.
Hannah is in her element. “I just love playing live. When I get on stage, I feel like that is where I’m meant to be. I might get a few pre-stage nerves, which is healthy, but whether it’s being in a room or at a festival, I love performing and feel totally at home.”
Hannah’s 2020 album Hannah White and the Nordic Connections came out to much acclaim and a UK Americana Award nomination. The new album looks set to follow suit. It was recorded earlier this year near home in Sutton, and marks Hannah’s debut as a producer of her own work.
The first single ‘Car Crash’ (described as Americana noir) typifies her autobiographical narrative style. For Hannah, it was tough to revisit a particularly difficult period in her life, but she felt that the time was right. “I’ve written songs since I was very young and I guess there’s always been an element of autobiography, even when writing about something metaphorical. Maybe it’s a way of processing stuff.”
She says of ‘Car Crash’: “I wrote about a time in my life after my son had been born, I had separated from his father, we were evicted from where we lived, and we were living in accommodation for homeless families. I got to the lowest point when I’d been arrested for shoplifting for taking food – the police asked who could come to collect my son, and there was literally nobody…”
Hannah recalls that while help was then offered to her, there was no follow up, and she felt absolutely desperate. “It’s not really a time that I write about that much because it’s just something I want to forget. I was really nervous about this song coming out – there’s no hiding behind it. But people have been really nice. Their response has been lovely.”
The single was released on International Women’s Day and Hannah hopes that it will help women in difficult domestic or violent situations, as well as show life through a woman’s lens. “The music industry generally is a very sexist industry. You really don’t hear women’s perspectives. When I performed at an event for International Women’s Day, I had women speak to me afterwards who’ve been going through difficult things with their children, and it meant a lot to them to see someone who’s been through it and come out of the other side okay, and that my children are okay. I hope it gives other women a voice no matter what it is they want to they want to speak about.”
Her son is now 19. She also has a 16-year-old daughter. She met Keiron around 13 years ago through their music. “He was helping me a lot – it was tough being a single mother of two. We then started making a record together. Our relationship is built on this solid and trusting friendship and from the off we’ve had so much in common.”
And they love touring together. “There’s logistics to sort out, with family at home, of course, but it’s just brilliant. We both love it.”
“He’s a phenomenal guitarist, and musician, and likes to write his own music as well so we both creatively spark off each other. People ask how it is to be with each other all the time but we are really close friends, and we’re focussed on the same things so it works.”
They also run the Sound Lounge, which in itself is a big but rewarding job. “It’s going really well. Obviously it was tough through the pandemic but we’ve got such a brilliant and loyal following. And we’ve had support from the Arts Council, which was great to not only get financial support but to have that recognition as being culturally significant.”
Sound Lounge has a packed programme until the end of the year and is booking for spring 2023. They’re also doing a festival – Folk in the Park on 27 August. “It’s all going from strength to strength. There’s lots of exciting things happening.”
See Hannah on tour: www.hannahwhitemusic.com/tour-dates
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