In collaboration with
- Words Notion Staff
- Photography Adam Titchener
Hannah Grace has had a stellar 2020 career-wise and joins the Virgin Money Emerging Stars programme after releasing her debut album. Get to know the Welsh singer-songwriter better.
It’s not often that you find an artist with timeless vocals and one-of-a-kind songwriting ability, but that’s Hannah Grace. The Welsh singer-songwriter has been known to effortlessly move between genres such as Jazz, Folk, Gospel, Pop, and Blues, collaborating with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin for a joint Christmas record.
Aplin isn’t the only star knocking at Hannah’s door, either. She’s been snapped up by “Take Me To Church” crooner Hozier and even caught the attention of Lady Gaga on Twitter. To top it all off, Hannah’s cover of the track “Praise You” was chosen to feature on this year’s Lancôme Christmas campaign featuring Julia Roberts. Needless to say, she’s no stranger to accomplishments.
Now, just after releasing her debut album ‘Remedy’, Hannah Grace joins the Virgin Money Emerging Stars programme and plans to use her bursary fund to promote the record. “Being part of this programme will help so much in making things happen and has given me an extra confidence boost and belief in what I do!” she says.
“My songs are a real mixture of my own personal experiences, observations of what’s happening around me, or sometimes inspired by a dream I’ve had or a book I’ve read”, Hannah tells us when speaking about her songwriting process. Living in a house full of musicians, she loves to collaborate, aiming to “write things that connect to people, that move people, something that comforts them or gives them joy”.
We caught up with the Virgin Money Emerging Star to chat about her relationship with music throughout her life, the best and worst parts of the songwriting process, and much more. Dive in!
What made you decide to become a musician?
Becoming a musician was always a gradual thing for me rather than one decision in one moment. I grew up surrounded by music – it was always playing in the house and my family always sang songs and encouraged me to perform from a young age! It was just the normal thing to do. As I grew up I started playing piano and writing my own songs and I would sing in school at every opportunity. For as long as I can remember I wanted to pursue it as a career – I don’t know what else I would have done! It’s just always felt like the right thing.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
I’d love people to feel good listening to my music and to get real joy and comfort from my songs. Throughout my life, music has been a source of peace and reflection for me as well as hope and happiness. It’s been a constant through the good times and the bad, I think this is one of the reasons that I was so drawn to doing it myself. I’d be so happy if my songs were there for people in this way too.
What was the concept behind your recent release “Closer”?
I wrote “Closer” with my good friend Martin Luke Brown. We’re housemates in a big house full of musicians and writers and we collaborate with each other all the time. Martin is such a great keys player and we were just jamming and singing – playing around with grooves and fun melodies. “Closer” just kind of happened! We wanted to write something upbeat and hooky that was really fun to perform live. It’s now one of my favourite songs to sing. For me, the song sums up the excitement and joy that comes from connecting with someone new or finding new love. The song is about feeling seen, listened to and truly appreciated. This song is a celebration of when someone loves you for you.
Who would be your dream musical collaborator and why?
I would absolutely love to collaborate with Hozier. I have always loved his music. I was lucky enough to support him on a few shows and he’s one of the best artists I’ve ever seen live. His voice is just amazing. He is such an incredible writer too – his lyrics and melodies are so new and vibrant while still being so clearly influenced by old school soul and blues. I would absolutely love to sing with him one day.
Despite the circumstances, how has this year played out for you career-wise?
This year has been a weird one for sure but overall a hugely exciting year for me and my music. I’ve just released my debut album! It’s been a long time coming and I am so happy it’s finally out. I am so proud of this record and it’s been great to share it with the world. I had to finish recording the album remotely which was actually an amazing learning experience and now I have my own recording set up at home so that’s definitely been a silver lining! I’ve missed playing live so much but I am so grateful for the internet! I feel very to lucky in that I can still share music and videos, and play livestream shows so I can still connect with people with my music. I’m also beyond excited to have my version of “Praise You” on the new Lancôme advert featuring Julia Roberts and Amanda Seyfried which is crazy! I’m grateful that things have still been able to happen for me this year.
What have you learned about yourself in this time?
So many things! How much I love travelling – I miss it so much! I can’t wait to see more of the world as soon as I can. It’s made me really grateful that I get to be creative for a living – I’ve been able to keep creating throughout this whole thing and I love it more than ever.
How will the Virgin Money Emerging Star grant help you achieve your goals?
I am so grateful to Virgin Money for including me on this programme! The grant will help me so much to keep promoting my debut album ‘Remedy’ as well as helping fund future projects. I can’t wait to get back into the studio to make more music and hopefully back out touring at some point next year too! Being part of this programme will help so much in making things happen and has given me an extra confidence boost and belief in what I do!
How much of your writing is autobiographical, and how much is pulled from the stories of others and your own imagination?
I collaborate a lot with other songwriters so most of my songs start with a big conversation, about our lives or the world or just something that’s happened to us that week. It can be anything that sparks that initial idea or concept and then the music just takes it away. My songs are a real mixture of my own personal experiences, observations of what’s happening around me, or sometimes inspired by a dream I’ve had or a book I’ve read. I want to write things that connect to people, that move people, something that comforts them or gives them joy. I really love writing songs with friends because I feel like I can really open up and create something raw and real, I think the best songs are the most honest.
When you’re feeling stuck creatively, what do you do to overcome it / find inspiration?
Songwriting can be so hard, and sometimes you just have bad days. My best songs and best songwriting experiences have been when the song seems to appear. This can be so amazing because sometimes it feels as though you find a song rather than write it. So if I’m having trouble I try not to force it. I look for inspiration where I can, a conversation with a friend, an old movie or old record, and try and think about what it is I want to say, and what vibe I hear. For me, songs reflect something real that’s going on and often fall into place. But I have found that it does take practice to even get to this realisation and trust the process.
What are the best and worst parts of the songwriting process for you?
The best part for me is working with my friends! I love working with people I know, it’s always a joyful or almost therapeutic experience and I wouldn’t be without it. I’m so grateful to be able to put some of my hardest experiences into songs. They end up taking a weight off, helping me process things and work like little time capsules to go back to. The worst part would be when you just can’t find the write words. Lyrics are the hardest part for me to get right, I have to feel like I would say it ‘in real life’ and that I’m being true to myself, this can be incredibly frustrating when you reach that block, but so lush when you get it right. I’ve also been so lucky to work with some incredible producers and writers and I’ve learnt so much from their contribution and creative input with my music. They have really helped me to grow into the writer and artist I’ve always wanted to be.