Interview: Hannah Scott
This acoustic singer-songwriter has supported Ed Sheeran and been played on 6 Music, and her debut EP’s out this week
This week sees the release of Still Static, the debut EP from Hannah Scott. Despite being at the very start of her career, the 20-something singer-songwriter from Suffok is already getting some pretty serious plaudits, with her gentle acoustic indie-folk championed in MOJO and The Guardian, and Tom Robinson spinning her tracks on his 6 Music show.
So we thought we’d best get her on the phone for a chat…
Let’s start at the beginning – tell us a little bit about your background, and how you got into making music in the first place.
“I grew up in quite an artistic family: my dad was a stand-up comic, and my mum was a painter. And they recognised that I enjoyed music, so I had piano lessons from quite early on, aged 4 or 5. Being encouraged like that was definitely the key to me being where I am now.
“But I didn’t really start listening to pop music till I went to secondary school, which was when I got my first guitar. I taught myself to play listening to stuff like Counting Crows and Matchbox 20… and then as I got older, it was singer-songwriter stuff, people like Alanis Morisette, Ryan Adams, Damian Rice and Tom Baxter. I never really had the chance to be in a band – I was at an all-girls school and I don’t even remember there being any bassists or drummers! But I used to play along with friends, and I wrote my first song when I was about 15 or 16 – Idle Tears it was called, a very teenage kind of thing with a title I’d lifted from Tennyson!
Then I went away to uni in Durham, and I did some open mic nights, and I played in a cheesy covers band as well which was good fun. And by then I’d decided music was what I really wanted to do, so after uni I moved up to London, and I started performing seriously, playing three or four times a week. I did a lot of rubbish gigs, but I did some good ones as well, and it was all good experience – I learned how to be on stage.
And then you got some slots opening for Ed Sheeran! How did that come about?
Well, Ed’s from the same part of Suffolk as I am, so I’d known him a long time, since before he was famous. And I did some support slots for Cara Dillon as well… really it all just happened through gigging, getting out there and getting a foot in the door and getting to know the right people.
You’ve got your debut EP out on Casa Music this week. Tell us about the songs on there, are they largely autobiographical or are you more of a storyteller?
A bit of both… actually, I think all the songs on the EP are just me. But sometimes I do write from someone else’s point of view as well, usually just about someone or something that’s inspired me.
And how, when and where are the songs written… what can you tell us about your writing process or techniques?
Well, it’s pretty much all done at home. I’ll sit there with my guitar, or at the keyboard, and then sometimes Stefano [Del Casa, musical collaborator, producer and label boss] is there with his cello as well. If he is then we generally start with a melody, but if I’m working on my own it could be melody first, it could be lyrics first. Either way, I generally write all the lyrics on my own, and it’ll usually take three or four days for a song to come together. I look at them as little puzzles that you have to gradually piece together.
So I don’t really have a set way of working, ideas just come when they come. But I do make time to make music… it’s not about forcing yourself to write as such, but you do have make time in the day, otherwise life can just kind of pass you by. That’s something I heard Tom Robinson say once, and it’s definitely true.
Finally, with the EP already picking up some heavyweight props, what are your hopes for the future? Would you like Ed Sheeran-style fame and fortune, or are you quite happy just gigging around folk clubs and earning a living?
Somewhere between the two, I think! I mean, I’d like for my music to be heard by as many people as possible, whether that’s because it’s in the charts, or it’s in a film, or whatever. I just want to keep on doing what I’m doing, basically, taking a little step forward each day.
But I’m not sure I’d want my face to be everywhere, like Ed’s is now. You certainly won’t be seeing me in the tabloids falling out of a cab at 3am, put it that way.
Interview: Russell Deeks
The Still Static EP by Hannah Scott is out this week on Casa Music. Watch her performing the title track at Camden Barfly below