Interview: Rhonda McKnight @ouchmagazineny
Artist info below:
1. What is the process that you go through to write a song?
Hannah: I’ll field this one since I wrote the EP. I have three main types of songwriting that I’ve noticed, and they’re more types of inspiration, I won’t just sit down and force it. The first is a random flash, like I’ll be cooking and a melody line will pop into my head, so I’ll record it on my phone, or I’ll read or hear or think a line or phrase or metaphor and realize I like the sound/meaning of it enough to potentially base a song around it. Probably around half of these get turned into full songs. The second is a strong feeling or mood I’ve had where I’m able to write all the lyrics at once, a stream of consciousness, in like 15 minutes. I usually edit them a bit later on for rhythm and rhyming scheme, but these are often my favorites because they are able to capture a very specific mood very intensely. And the last one is dreams. I lucid dream almost every night and my brain sometimes make up a song during the dream which it just repeats until I wake up, convinced it’s a real song and wanting to listen to it. When I realize it’s not, I get excited and write down the idea and go back to sleep. This is definitely the most hit or miss - sometimes I’ll check it out come morning when I’ve fully woken up and it is a truly terrible idea, but sometimes they’re concepts I love and doubt I would’ve thought of normally.
2. How many songs do you usually not use?
Hannah: Because of my writing style, I don’t have a lot of songs which have made it past two lines that I don’t intend to put out at some point. If it’s one where I wrote it all at once, I’ll keep it, and if it’s one where I just had the first idea, I can usually decide the next time I come back to it whether to pursue it or trash it. My notebook is half full of complete songs and half full of pages with either one line or just a title, often written below a trashed one - not a lot of in between. But I’d say I trash about half of the one-line concepts I come up with. Maybe I should be selling them...
3. How do you pick the ones for your final album?
Hannah: At the time we started talking about an EP, I had 20-ish completed songs written. I was looking at the list of them, trying to decide how to organize them in a way that was meaningful to us and others for a while. We also knew we wanted to use What Is Living Above the Light as a title for something at some point. After a while of contemplating the song list, I found that six of our favorite tracks were surprisingly unified under that title. So it was a drawn out process, but an easy decision in the end.
4. How do you describe your style of music?
Hank: Right now it’s definitely bedroom pop. It’s pretty much straight from Hannah’s brain to the recording, and we try to capture that structurally too. Most of the songs are primarily divided between pronounced vocals and wall-of-sound style guitars and synths, and we tried to have that mimic the feeling of an inner monologue that seems really clear when compared to the commotion of life. It was also recorded 100% in a bedroom if that counts. Hannah: I would add that I saw an Ariana Grande tweet semi-recently about how she just wants to add way too many harmonies all the time that nobody asked for, and found it very relatable.
5. Who are the other artists you get inspiration from?
Hank: We pull inspiration from a lot of different artists, but I think a common thread from all of our favorites is a single-minded focus. I think something that inspired both of us a lot is the story of how Grimes recorded Visions in almost hermetic isolation within two weeks. We liked that. Anything that can zero in and capture a feeling is really important. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea did a great job of creating this sort of Lynchian, nostalgia-drenched, a love letter to a dead girl, which is a very focused idea. Lana Del Rey wants to get high by the beach. These are some of our favorite artists for exactly that reason. It’s a focused idea and it really translates to the listener which is one of the best parts about music. Hannah: Ya I am inspired by an artist who is distinct sounding, not for distinctness’s sake, but as a symptom of a truly independent, authentic, artistic process. 6. What are your tour dates like or will we be able to see you live soon? No tour dates yet, because we are working full time on getting more new music out there first. But we will let you know when it’s performance time!
7. How can fans reach out to you?
We love hearing from fans. Social media is the best. Our twitter handle is Inanna_na with one underscore, and our Instagram is the same but with two. Hit us up for music tips, movie recs, and hot takes. -H&H