- Words Josephine Amstad
Welsh-born rising star Hana Lili chats with Notion about what makes her happy, how she stays original and which celeb she would love as her BFF.
Welcome to Fresh Face, a quick-fire interview series spotlighting the best rising talents in today’s youthful music scene. From biggest pet peeves to party tricks and death row meals, we’re stripping things back from the formal Q&A format. Think of it like speed dating, but with some of the freshest music makers worth discovering.
It’s been a busy year for Hana Lili. After her song “Stay” played on this year’s Love Island the young Welsh star was launched into the spotlight, picking up a legion of fans with her soulful acoustic sound.
In October, Hana delivered her 4-track EP ‘Flowers Die in Summer’ after a year of going in and out of lockdown offered her the opportunity to knuckle down and get creative. ‘Flowers Die in Summer’ is an ethereal introduction to her mellow sound, brimming with ear candy melodies, touching lyrics and silky (self-taught) production. With the music video for “Don’t Try To Call Me” shot on her phone, it’s clear this artist revels in staying authentic, original and low-key.
Giving insight into her creative process on the track “Don’t Try To Call Me”, Hana explains: ‘I wrote this song in the middle of lockdown, all my communications we’re through my phone. I sat in my room for days on end, and the phone was the only means of communication. It was a frustrating, sad and lonely time for a lot of people. I recorded a guitar loop and sampled it. The sampled guitar riff runs through the whole song; it’s perpetual and reflects the emotions of a Groundhog Day. I wrote about the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and paranoia. Ironically it’s the most upbeat song of my EP.’
Notion got the chance to speak with Hana Lili about how she’s developed as an artist this past year, what song never fails to make her cry, and who – or what – would play her in a film.
How have you developed creatively over the past year?
The past year has allowed me to reflect a lot. When live shows and releasing music paused, it made me question why do I do what I do? It made me realise I just love writing songs, in the same way I did when I was 14. I think remembering that being creative is simply an enjoyable process and not all about output. The last year allowed me to enjoy the process again and remember the simplicity of being creative is just to create.
How can an artist stay original nowadays?
I think staying original comes with understanding that who I am when I’m making music in my bedroom when no one else is around is who I should stay true to as an artist. Inspiration comes from everywhere in the world, and I think that it’s something to celebrate, but staying original shouldn’t be the main focus, there should be a focus on staying true to your authentic self and not feel the pressure to adapt to the trends but also to let yourself be influenced by the world outside. It’s like a double negative, what I’m saying is a contradiction, but if it’s an automatic natural process, it will just be exactly that.
What is your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
Releasing music is always that moment for me. It’s been a bizarre year and creating and writing songs has been such an amazing outlet for me and my emotions. Also, my track ‘Stay’ was played on this year’s season of Love Island which was so unexpected and a massive moment in my career so far!
Finish the sentence: I feel happiest when…
I’m busy. When I’m performing songs to new audiences, when I release new music. This past year, although great to reflect, I’m done with the over analysing of my own emotions, and having the time to micro analyse it all. It’s catch 22. I feel like it’s been a sense of release and serenity being able to release music and perform live after such a long time without it.
Which celebrity would you like to be best friends with?
Mary Wollstonecraft. She wrote one of my favourite books titled ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’. It’s such a fantastic book.
Which song always makes you cry?
Nocturne in e flat major.. what a banger
What does being in love feel like?
I used to think being in love meant a hectic flurry of different emotions all running in overdrive all at the same time, but that ends up being draining and merely a moment. Being in love is acceptance, but also holding your own, it’s being compassionate but also understanding compromise. Love is contextual, it exists in many different forms and mediums, I think it’s opening yourself up in order to find it for yourself.
Who would play you in a film?
I’d love a cartoon adaptation of me, that would be fun. A female Bart Simpson, or maybe even Dora the Explorer – but the musical version.