Canadian artist Hannah Epperson is one of the most unique talents of the modern day. Unafraid to break out of pre-assigned boundaries, she’s an artist who’s not only skilled when it comes to providing compelling vocals, but a woman who will use a series of different instruments and production techniques to create truly memorable music.
We got the opportunity to put some questions to Hannah ahead of the release of her new album ‘Slowdown’, and here’s what she had to say…
For those who may be new to your music, how best would you describe your sound?
String-core, whale-cry, seasonal, hemlock, filter-sweep, ad nauseam, as interpreted by your every-day millennially-stricken Hannah from down the block.
What challenges have you faced in the music industry so far?
I’m tempted to respond with a rhetorical, ‘What isn’t a challenge if you make the decision toc are about what you’re doing?’, but that feels heavy handed somehow, probably a bit ruder than I’d mean for it to come off. I think everything about trying to balance making art in earnest and also surviving – literally and psychically – in an aggressively capitalistic environment is deeply challenging. The culture of self-aggrandisement is pretty revolting, and so finding ways to promote your work in a playful, good-humoured way seems to take up a lot of energy that would seem better spent fighting climate change, or dismantling a socio-economic system that landed us with a Trump presidency.
And then there’s the whole wretched world of Spotify which seems to do a really good job of algorithmitising and anesthetising and muzakifying the collective aural experience.
But um, to answer a little more directly, I guess I would say I’ve been really lucky, because I’ve been able to choose to work with really good humans; people with a lot of integrity and respect, people who share humanitarian ideals, and envision a better, more egalitarian version of reality.
How difficult would you say this career path is in terms of making a name for yourself?
I think the real difficulty strikes when you forget why you’re doing what you’re doing, or you neglect asking the ‘why?’ altogether, in the pursuit of some impoverished definition of success, like making a name for yourself. See, it’s hard for me to answer this question, because I can’t say I’ve ever been motivated by the ‘career path’ model of success, or by the idea of making a name for myself. That’s not the f**king point. As long as music-making is a process that enables me to emote and synthesise the things I’m interpreting in the world around me, I will make music in this life. If that’s something that the people around me value enough to support, then so be it. If not, then also so be it. There are a lot of paths in this life, a lot of good ones, that twist and turn and branch and evolve, but making a name for myself is never going to be the motive for the creative labour that goes into making those paths.
How important is it for you to have creative control over the work you produce?
For a long time, I think I thought I was ambivalent about creative control, perhaps because so much of my experience as a musician has been as a supportive collaborator, or as a small piece of a bigger project with another leader at the helm. Those kinds of projects have invited levels of vulnerability, compromise, bonding and social-empathic energy that I have and still do totally get off on. But I’ve realised with my own solo project that I can sometimes be straight-up recalcitrant, and will write off collaborative propositions before even giving them a chance to breath. I’m a bit ashamed of this, especially because I’m so vocal about the power and importance of cooperation and collaborative processes, and because I’ve been invited on so many occasion to contribute to other people’s ventures. I think I probably fell so heavy-hard into the gravitational pull of the loop station, because it gave me complete control over every piece of a live composition, and saved me the energy of negotiating with or defending my own preferences in a song structure, dynamics, textures etc., to another universe (human).
What or who have been your main influences when it comes to your work?
There’s no end to the catalogue. Everything is transmutable. The taste of cold grainy coffee in my mouth and the smell of peppermint on my cotton collar effect in some small measure the way I type out answers to these questions. How? I’m not so sure, and that’s part of the great thrill of being alive.
If you could collaborate with anybody going forward, who would you choose and why?
If it was earlier this week, I would have written Ursula K. Le Guin, though I suppose she has left in her wake more than enough material for many lifetimes of a certain kind of collaboration. I don’t know, my God… Emily Wilson, maybe, whose translation of The Odyssey – the first translation by a woman, might I add – is currently destroying me, so it’s good. You can just tell from the way she writes and from her very ballsy interpretive translation that she’s got a wicked, daring mind, and a deeply poetic one. I could imagine setting one of her translated texts to music, and feeling deeply invigorated by the kind of correspondences we’d have in the process. Musically though… I mean, I’d love to wrangle drummer Greg Saunier into a duo project someday. He hits his drums so hard, and I play my harmonics so soft, but we both love avoiding the beat so I think it could be a pretty saucy polka dot dot dot…
Tell us a random, funny fact about you that not many people know.
I still have a baby canine, and it’s loose right now, and I sometimes get a weird knot in my gut thinking about the hole it’s going to leave in my already way-wayward grin.
Where do you hope to be this time next year?
Maybe on top of a mountain somewhere, or in a gutted trailer in the southern Utah deserts writing an album for Toy Piano [on a] broken five-string electric guitar. Maybe something a little bigger than a trailer, actually, so that I can be a good host, with pull out couches and places to put lots of shoes and a big table to sit around and eat big loaves of bread with big bowls of soup and such.
What should we expect from you in the coming weeks and months?
I’m releasing my second record ‘Slowdown’ next month, ‘Volume II’ of a two-album concept, so I’ll be touring a lot, drinking too much coffee, probably writing more-than-average volumes of incomprehensible streams of consciousness under Instagram action shots in unspecified locations. I plan to stay alive, to stay healthy and cognisant and kind and as giving as I’m capable. I plan to give good hugs, and write inappropriate messages on merchandise that people purchase from me when I’m sweaty and hyper-extended after shows and long stretches of sleeplessness.
Hannah is set to release her new album ‘Slowdown’ on February 16, 2018 via Listen Collective.