Hana Talks Her Bond with Blood Diamonds and Getting Lorde's Blessing
We chatted with the rising pop artist about going from backup singer to center stage.
Up-and-comer Hana may only have two singles out, but that hasn’t stopped some of pop’s biggest singers from getting behind her. The 26-year-old newbie first got noticed as a backup singer on tour with Grimes and Lana Del Rey, but the release of her first single “Clay” proves that her talent alone can carry itself. Hana's voice certainly caught the attention of her good friend Grimes, who brought her to perform “Clay” on tour. Girl even got a shout-out from Lorde on Twitter. In a gorgeous blend of of electronica and pop, influenced by everything from Björk to Bonnie Raitt and the Spice Girls, Hana’s tranquil but giant voice is hard to ignore. With the help of her boyfriend and producer Blood Diamonds, Hana has created addictive, emotionally heavy pop tracks.
Although her associations with Grimes and Lana Del Rey have definitely helped generate buzz, Hana’s tracks “Clay” and “Avalanche” show that the singer has some real potential—something that may be in part to collaborating with boyfriend and producer Mike Tucker a.k.a. Blood Diamonds. Hana will be surrounded by another big name this fall as she tours with Purity Ring.
Before she gets even bigger, we caught up with Hana on collaborating with Blood Diamonds, transitioning to singer-songwriter to pop singer, and her undying love for the Spice Girls.
Noisey: Hi Hanna! When did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
Hana: I have wanted to do music professionally since before I can really remember. I remember in 8th grade I had a revelation. I was taking a chemistry test and I was sitting there saying, “Why do I need to know this? I’m just going to be doing music for the rest of my life.” I really I wanted to [make music] since I was very young. I’m pretty stubborn, and I’ve never been willing to do anything else other than music. When I was in high school I would play shows in my hometown, play at the farmer’s market for money and teach kids guitar. I never really had to get a real job because I was determined not to.
Your first single “Clay” is about rebuilding your life. Was there a period of time where you needed to rebuild your own life?
I was in a relationship for five years, and really the roughest part was the breakup. When you’re with someone for that long, they really become synonymous with everything about your life. When that ended, I was left with not that much. A lot of my friends moved out of LA. Most of my core group of friends that I had been hanging out with for five years were just gone. It was kind of like a new city. For a while, I was really, really alone. But, actually, I totally didn’t mind that—it was kind of the perfect break from everything that I needed. That’s when I really started from scratch, met new people, took a respite from touring, sat back and looked at everything I had done, what I hadn’t done and what I wanted to do from that point. I really just started a new chapter, a new project, and almost a new life.
You started out singing backup and now you’re singing on your own. Were you ever nervous to perform as a backup singer? Or did it give you the confidence to perform on your own now?
Anytime I’m on stage, I just count it as practice for later performances. I’ve never been that nervous on stage. Sometimes I get anxious right before the show, but because I’ve been playing since I was so young, I don’t get really nervous. A lot of the time I feel it’s worse when there’s fewer people in the audience. When I first moved here, I had a couple of shows where there were literally only two people there, and they were my friends [laughs]. I think that’s actually worse. I’ve played a big spectrum of audiences, but I definitely get more scared the fewer people that are in the audiences.
We’ve been seeing a newer trend of artists releasing a single each month for a year, i.e. Oh Wonder and Allie X. Do you think that putting out one song at a time has been a more successful technique for musicians than releasing a full album or EP?Honestly, I’ve been having this debate with so many people lately and nobody really knows. It seems like people are liking the one song at a time just because you can get a feel for exactly how the public responds to a certain thing. You can go off of putting out a bunch of songs and hoping for the best. It’s easier to assess the response when you’re putting out one thing at a time. It’s so hard to even say. The music industry is at this point where nobody really knows what the right thing is to do, but it’s kind of exciting that we’ve gotten to that point.
When Lorde tweeted out your song, did you already have a ton of people listening to “Clay,” or did she really pull the trigger for people to start paying attention to your music?
She definitely pulled the trigger on a bigger reaction, although, I was already pretty stoked with the responses [to the song] all day. I feel like she tweeted about it in the late afternoon—I remember the sun was setting [laughs]. Once she posted it, it definitely took on a new life. It was so helpful! I couldn’t even believe what she wrote about it as well. She said the sweetest thing about the song. I was actually driving when the tweet came through, and it buzzed my phone. I had to double check because her handle is @lordemusic, and I thought, “Don’t get too excited. I thought it could be a fan profile." When I saw it was real, I was over the moon.
After you saw it was really Lorde, did you ever think, “I could be a part of the Taylor Swift girl gang now?”
A part of me wishes...you never know. It is just a tweet at the same time, you can’t get too excited.
Have other celebrities you don’t know posted your song as well?
I don’t even know. Walking around LA, I have a lot of friends who are in the music industry. I live in the arts district where there are a lot of studios around. I’ll see my friends at lunch on a break during their writing session, and they’ll introduce me to people and a lot of [those] people have heard the songs and it kind of blows me away. Not that they’re famous people, but it blows me away that people in the music industry even know my name. So that’s been quite a trip.
Your boyfriend is Blood Diamonds. How did you two meet?
We got matched up for a session in 2013 through my roommate at the time who had met him at Coachella. We really hit it off in so many ways. We wrote three songs the first day and hung out for literally 13 hours. We basically never stopped hanging out to this day. We just really get along. He’s my best friend. I really feel like I’ve found a partner in him. It’s been really, really amazing. He’s turned my life around.
What’s the biggest challenge of working so closely with your boyfriend?
So far, thankfully, we haven’t really faced any challenges as musicians. It’s really helpful to have him to bounce ideas off of. He’s very helpful always because he’s smart and went to art school. He’s just a great person to have around because we both are constantly sending each other music. We’re definitely a partnership. Once we both start touring more, that always sucks, but at the same time we both really love what we do. It’s almost helpful having a musician as your partner because they understand why you have to be out months at a time doing what you love.
Will Blood Diamonds be working on all the music you’re releasing?
I’m not sure—I don’t want to 100% say yes or no. I’m not opposed to him not being on a song now. I’m also getting better and better at producing myself, so there are even a couple of songs that are just produced by me that I’m really excited about. He’s so supportive of that. I’m just really focused on growing and continuing this path of making music that I like. It’s very fun.
When you first started out performing, you were doing more singer-songwriter work. Did you shift towards electronic music because of the direction the industry was going?
Honestly, I always performed that way because of ease, but I realize have always been a fan of Björk since I was very young. When I was ten, my aunt gave me every single Björk release and since then, I’ve just gotten every new one that has come out. Really the singer-songwriter thing is just something I did because I could just go cross-country in my car. I haven’t really done a show with my new setup yet. At the same time, I’m so excited because I always felt a little bit held back by my guitar. I always wanted to move around a bit more. I always felt my set could be more exciting. I’m having a lot of fun building my set and figuring out what it will be like.
You heard about the Spice Girls reunion tour right?
I’m over the moon.
Which Spice Girl were you?
I was Scary Spice.
I felt like no one ever wanted to be Scary Spice, but she was the best. She had the coolest style.
She was always my favorite from the beginning. She was always so cool. She had the best style. There was one point where she did her hair in a bunch of knots and I would go to school like that every day. I still have the ticket stubs and t-shirt from when I saw them in 1998. Actually, recently, when Claire [Boucher] let me sing “Clay” at her show, we actually performed at the amphitheater that I saw Spice Girls at. It was really amazing.
I bet! Do you plan on putting out an EP or an LP yet? Or am I jumping the gun?
I think my plan right now is just to keep putting out content—whatever that may be. I don’t think it will be a compilation like an EP or album just yet, but my plan is to keep coming out with songs and videos. I have a couple of remixes in the works. I want to put stuff out more often—just one song or one thing at a time. Eventually I want to come out with an EP or an album next year, but in the meantime, I want to put out songs and little things here and there to get a feel for the people that are into it. What they like. What they respond to and what they don’t. I want to get a better feel for this little fanbase I’m building.
You can catch Hana on tour this fall with Purity Ring.
NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
08/07 - The Lyric Theatre - Los Angeles - CA^
09/02 - Rialto Theatre - Tuscon, AZ*
09/03 - Tricky Falls - El Paso, TX
09/04 - El Rey Theatre - Albuquerque, NM*
09/05 - Austin Music Hall - Austin, TX*
09/07 - Minglewood Hall - Memphis, TN*
09/08 - Marathon, Music Works - Nashville, TN*
09/10 - The Ritz Ybor - Tampa, FL
09/11 - The Fillmore Miami Beach - Miami Beach, FL*
09/12 - House of Blues - Lake Buena Vista, FL*
09/14 - Georgia Theatre - Anthens, GA*
09/15 - Orange Peel - Asheville, NC*
09/16 - The Ritz - Raleigh, NC*
09/20 - The National - Richmond, VA*
09/21 - Rams Head Live! - Baltimore, MD*
09/22 - House of Blues - Boston, MA*
09/23 - Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park, NY*
09/24 - Stage AE - Pittsburgh, PA*
09/25 - Midpoint Music Festival - Cincinnati, OH
09/26 - The Pygmalion Festival - Champaign, IL
09/29 - Boulder Theater - Boulder, CO*
09/30 - Boulder Theater - Boulder, CO*
10/02 - Knitting Factory - Boise, ID*
10/03 - Knitting Factory - Spokane, WA*
10/04 - McDonald Theatre*
* Supporting Purity Ring