On Hannah Gill & The Hours’ debut EP The Water, 18-year-old Hannah Gill sings mostly about people and events that have impacted and resonated within her throughout her young but varied life – the lyrics on the album encourage the listener to embrace life’s adventures, an ode to finding one’s personal freedom and individualism.
Raised in a small community in Maryland, Hannah’s dream to sing professionally took shape early on during her teen years – performing locally to fine tune her vocal ability. Hannah took the opportunity to study guitar in high school, a process that also helped her discover her natural songwriting talent – effortlessly turning poems and short stories into beautiful and moving lyrics. Her move from Maryland to New York City inspired many songs on The Water.
Hannah Gill & The Hours is a collaboration duo consisting of Hannah Gill and guitarist-songwriter, Brad Hammonds. Though born and brought up in different eras of music, Hannah and Brad manage to seamlessly incorporate their passion for jazz, soul, blues and a rocky-pop in a cohesive and complimentary way. On the heels of the release of their first album, we spoke to Hannah about the songwriting process behind The Water, her working relationship with Brad, her passion for music, and more.
Your EP, The Water, was inspired by your move to New York City. What was the songwriting process like? Did you start writing before your move or was it cultivated as the big life change took place?
The songwriting was very sporadic. Some songs like “The Water” had full verses, but no chorus months before I moved to the city. These half songs were really only complete after getting to collaborate with other skilled musicians such as Brad Hammonds, John White, and Rich DeCicco. On the flip side, songs like “Change In Blue” I wrote in about 15 minutes at 4 a.m. on a Thursday! All of the songs came very organically, I hate when an idea sounds forced.
What song do you connect with most off of The Water, and why?
I connect with “Change In Blue” the most purely because it related so closely to my life at the time. Most songs I write are based on another person or an event halfway around the world, but “Change In Blue” was the first song I truly modeled around my life. “Change In Blue” was all about my newfound freedom in New York, and now every time I sing those lyrics I am reminded of this amazing opportunity I have been given.
Your album sends a message that we should all embrace life’s adventures and break free from society’s mold while finding personal freedom. Has it been easy finding your personal freedom or has it been a challenge?
I have found some personal freedom in my writing, yes, but I think my true freedom came from finding myself. I was constantly bullied in middle school because of my eccentric personality, so much so that I had to switch schools. Once I was where people accepted me for who I was, I really got to begin to grow as a person. Finding freedom, as well as myself, along the way. By the end of high school I had a tight grip on who I was as a person and I promised myself I would never let anyone change that part of me. I think because of this realization I have really been able to find inspiration in life, which, in turn, shines through in my writing.
Your sound is very retro ‘70s rock with a mix of blues and soul — did this come naturally or was it intentional?
I think it happened naturally! I have always been a big soul and blues fan. I think because I grew up listening to musicians like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin that blues feel will always shine through in my music.
You realized you wanted to sing professionally at a young age — not many people are able to find their passions and professional goals so early in life. What was your ‘aha’ moment in regards to realizing singing and motivating people with your voice was your path in life?
I honestly never had an ‘aha’ moment. I knew I was going to be a performer in one way or another. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But, when I began working with my guitar player Brad Hammonds, that is when I really saw a path to performing. With his help I was able to start turning my dreams into realities.
You’re a big fan of classic rock — do you feel it’s molded you as an artist? What artists or bands inspire you from the golden age of music? If you could work with any of them — who would you want to collaborate with?
I know Brad is way more into classic rock than I am. Although I do love to crank up the radio when Van Halen or Cream comes on! I am mainly inspired by classic soul/blues singers. Musicians like Etta James and Van Morrison really get my creative juices flowing. And if I could work with anyone from the classic rock genre, and we mean anyone… Freddie Mercury and I would sing the most kickass ballad of all time.
You’re going to embark on your first cross-country tour as Hannah Gill & The Hours soon. Are you nervous?
I am a little nervous, but honestly more about the traveling than the performing! I can’t wait to play for all sorts of new fans. I will just be sure to pack lots of Dramamine for the long car rides!
What’s the best advice you’ve been given by a fellow female artist? What advice would you give?
I always like to say, “ No one cares about what you are doing more than you.” That means if you are determined to make something happen, then make it happen. If it is your dream, don’t expect someone to do it for you. Oh, and have fun! You are doing what you love, and that is something to be proud of.
Who inspires you in your day to day life?
Oh gosh, honestly I don’t think it is a single person who inspires me. I think the pulse of the city is what really gets to me. Knowing that there are millions of people in New York, all trying to make their dreams come true. That type of mass energy is so inspiring.
Hannah Gill & The Hours’ debut EP, The Water, was released on May 13th, 2016. You can purchase the album on iTunes by following this link.