- Words Darcy Culverhouse
Alt-pop artist Hana Lili unveils her sugary vocals on latest track ‘Sweet Talk’, an anthem dedicated to those who overthink.
For some artists, authenticity is woven into their DNA. They don’t need to try to be authentic. They do so organically, so effortlessly it’s as natural as breathing. For rising wunderkind, Hana Lili, this veracity is part of who she is, unravelling lyrics that feel like internal monologues, laden with candid reflections on the universal experiences most undergo. Her latest offering, ‘Small Talk’, shows that her bona fides is only heightening with each track she unveils.
Raised in a small seaside town on Wales’ south west coast, enveloped by a wealth of culture and history, it was there that her passion for creating music began to brew. From partaking in local folk singing competitions, to now supporting the likes of Coldplay and Tom Grennan, Hana has managed to weave the thread of storytelling—learnt from competing in folk music contests—into her artistry today. Viewing writing songs as a format to understand her emotions, it’s no surprise that her songs read like pages torn from her diary, as she navigates growing up whilst reflecting on her childhood. Her introspective nature is paradigmatically exemplified in her single ‘Small Talk’, traversing vast emotional landscapes, hardships and realities—all to the rhythm of lo-fi elements laced with her teeming alt-pop vision. Dedicating the anthem to anxious over-thinkers, Hana expresses the emotions you are burdened with when you feel like you don’t fit in.
Expect to witness the young artists’ sugar-sweet vocals lilted with a poignant nostalgic sensibility, which calls to 90s indie and grunge. Tentative guitar strings are plucked, whilst sliding guitar riffs swoop in occasionally, all the to the backdrop of an infectious drum beat. It feels vibrant and dreamy, like a perfect shimmery bedroom pop tune that ushers a new side to her artistry, whilst continuing her quintessential devoir to be her most authentic self.
To celebrate her latest single, we catch up with Hana to talk about her Welsh heritage, stealing her parents’ CD’s and all things ‘Small Talk’.
You’ve mentioned that ‘Small Talk’ is about hiding behind meaningless conversations to avoid being vulnerable. How important is vulnerability in your songwriting, and how do you also balance that with your music’s self-assured sound?
Writing songs is a way for me to process my emotions. It’s like a diary entry of some sort about different moments and feelings I’m going through, it’s massively therapeutic. I always tend to just write about what I’m feeling and in a strange way it becomes a silver lining being able to turn feelings of frustration, sadness or anger into a song.
With artists such as No Doubt, The Cardigans, and Fleetwood Mac being included in your inspirations, how would you say these musical influences shaped your sound, and are there any other artists who have had a significant impact on your music?
Growing up, I would steal my parents CD’s which had bands such as The Cardigans, Nirvana and the pixies. I fell in love with this era of music, the live aspect of the guitars, drums and vocals. Maybe it’s a nostalgic thing?
Your latest single, ‘Small Talk,’ is described as an “anthem for anxious over-thinkers”. Can you tell us any more about the inspiration behind this song and the message you wanted to convey?
I was out and realised I was hiding behind small talk and humorous conversation as a way to avoid being vulnerable. I think I was doing this in the hope that people would like me, but it was draining. I realised while writing this song that being yourself and being vulnerable means you can connect with people in a more meaningful way.
Your lyrics often sound almost like an inner monologue – how do you find the courage/influence to be honest and candid in such a way in your songwriting, and what do you hope your listeners take away from your music?
Writing songs has always been a way for me to understand my emotions, maybe similar to someone who might write a journal. If the listener relates in some way, I hope it brings them a comfort in knowing that they’re not alone in that emotion.
You just supported Coldplay and Tom Grennan – what did you learn? How was the experience, and have they, in any way, influenced your musical journey and aspirations?
Supporting Coldplay was awesome. I think it’s a real testament to their ethos as a band, that they have local acts support them on their world tour. Being on stage is definitely my happy place, it’s where I feel most comfortable. I had so much fun supporting Tom Grennan! Performing in front of a crowd is such a fantastic feeling. I learned so much watching their shows, the energy they bring and how they connect with a crowd on such big stages.
Your music has been described as an introspective variant of indie pop and folk pop. Can you share more about the themes and emotions that you explore in your music, especially in your latest EP, Existential?
My latest EP Existential explores the inside of my mind, it’s a very introspective EP. Reflecting back, I think I had a tendency to overthink a lot in this period of writing the last EP and the process of writing these songs paved way to explore that, and ask myself why that was.
As a first language Welsh speaker, you sing in both English and Welsh. How does your Welsh heritage and language influence your music, and do you have any plans to incorporate more Welsh elements into your future work?
Growing up in Wales, I began performing by competing in the Eisteddfod which is a Welsh traditional festival held here every year in Wales. That’s definitely the point whereby I fell in love with music. I’d love to release a translated Welsh version of one of my songs. I’ll definitely get my mum to help me with that (she always checks over my grammar).
What else can we expect from you in the near future? Are there any upcoming projects, collaborations, or tours that your fans should be excited about?
I have more new music on the way! I’ve been in the studio over the past couple of months recording and finishing the new tracks which I’m excited to share. I’m also performing in London on the 15th of November at the Seabright Arms as part of Great Escape’s First Fifty launch.
You’ve received support from your local community, and your upbringing in Sully played a significant role in your musical journey. How has your small seaside town upbringing influenced your music and your connection with your audience?
Wales is such a special place to me. It’s a huge part of my heritage and the music community here really gave me the chance to develop and find myself as an artist. Performing live, writing songs and producing in my bedroom.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are looking to make their mark in the music industry, especially in terms of staying authentic to their own unique sound and style?
Write about something that resonates with you. Go to shows. Enjoy the process of developing yourself as an artist. Have confidence in yourself. Oh yeah and PRACTICE your instrument!! Hahaha.