I speak to Hannah Scott while she’s on a little break from her UK tour and a few weeks before the release of her new album ‘Pieces Of The Night’. Hannah is originally from Ipswich and the daughter of an artist and entertainer. Her life and talents are connected to Italy where she spent a year living and working on an olive press in Tuscany. She says, “I did French and Italian at Uni and there was a temptation to quit my degree. I stayed in Italy for as long as I could.” Hannah is very hands-on with her music career not just writing and performing, but teaching the piano as well as touring and performing at festivals. Life is a constant juggle.
Hannah works very closely with her collaborative partner Stefano Della Casa, “Our writing is very organic and natural, we sit down at the keyboard and guitar and write from there. I write the lyrics and he produces but we work on the tracks together. Lyrically I work very hard and spend a lot of time on them. Time investment means we create something much deeper.” She says of her love for Italy, “I travel to Italy a lot. Stefano is semi-based there and we recorded most of the album there.”
Hannah discusses her collaboration, “working with Stefano we push each other forward and spark off each other in terms of writing. I used to write all my own stuff by myself but pretty much everything we write together now. It’s also good to have the support out on the road, having someone around to hang out with and enjoy it with so I’m not completely isolated.”
Hannah’s new album ‘Pieces Of The Night is out today and she says, “For the album, the songs have been written over a period of a couple of years and they seemed to fit together. It’s about the human condition, connecting people and relationships, believing in your message, family – within the context of humanity, human connection, it all fits together,” she continues, “The songs are about hope.”
Hannah has a very distinct sound which you can’t necessarily put in a box. “I describe it as contemporary folk, originally written acoustically. Stefano’s sound is much more modern, more organic,” she says.
‘Pieces Of The Night’ is very personal and an exploration into Hannah’s life. She says, “I’m inspired by family and stories within my family. In my twenties, it was much more about writing love stories.” The music certainly gets under your skin from the get-go through melody, arrangement, production and all the intricate details which are unveiled the more you uncover. Hannah’s vocals are simultaneously vulnerable and haunting yet confident. And her lyrics are rather extraordinary and really resonate; rather like dipping into a book of timeless poetry.
We have previously featured Hannah’s single ‘Signs Of Life’ which is also on the album and described it as “theatrical with plenty of passionate orchestral flourishes and an undulating melody combined with an atmospheric electronic current pulsing underneath the piano, strings and Hannah’s ethereal vocals.”
Other highlights include the opening track ‘Pieces Of The Night’ which is soulful, wistful and intensely powerful. ‘Weight Of Your Words’ has taut electronic textures and there is the emotionally transparent ‘This Is Not An Ending’ “this is not an ending because we are just suspended“. ‘Hearth Of My Home’ takes a different tone from the other songs and is quite cinematic and spirited. I imagine a scene when the protagonist of a film is going through a tumultuous time and running away or towards something or someone while this song is playing.
‘Dust And Doubt’ is very dark and I had presumed it was about a toxic relationship but Hannah says, ‘Dust And Doubt’ is about self-doubt, about thinking I can’t do this, and how those thoughts can creep in ruin everything. If that happens the only one who can control it is you. You have to be strong enough to send it away.” This is what is so endearing about Hannah Scott’s music – it’s not what you think it is and there are plenty of layers to be uncovered, not just musically but thematically.
The stripped back ‘Boy In The Frame’ rounds off this accomplished album. “It’s about my grandmother“, Hannah comments. “I like the idea of telling stories.”
Hannah struggles with a form of arthritis which causes severe joint pain and fatigue. I wonder how she manages with such a busy career and regularly touring and traveling. She says, “touring is good for my mental health but not good for my physical health! When I was first diagnosed I had a bad pain in my spine, neck and hips, I was referred and diagnosed with arthritis and learned to look after myself. I struggle with fatigue, even if I sleep for 11 hours I never feel rested. I have learned to manage it and keeping flexible helps. I swim and do yoga which also forces me to switch off and put my phone away.”
Hannah’s condition has only made her more determined. She says, “I use it as a drive. It’s shown me how much I want to be making music. I get up in the morning and I want to do music and I think about music, I couldn’t be doing anything else.”
Apart from having arthritis what does Hannah find are her biggest challenges? “Well, the internet is an amazing tool. In the 90s you were signed or you were not, but the internet and social media allow people to take the power out of the major labels. However, there is the flipside – everyone can make music so there is more competition.” As previously mentioned, Hannah juggles a lot being an independent artist, “I have to think what I would like to see with the record, expand the people I can reach out to, organise my tour, be savvy with social media. Sometimes it’s difficult to have a business brain and an artist’s brain.”
For Hannah, it’s being on stage that is the best bit, “that’s one of the greatest bits, going out and playing live and connecting with people. When creativity is lacking it’s best to step away.”
And what’s next following the album release? Hannah says, “I’ve written a couple of new songs already but will go to Italy and enjoy the sunshine then it will be head down in the autumn.”
Hannah’s album ‘Pieces Of The Night’ is out now and you can still catch her on the rest of her UK tour:
23rd June, Folk On The Water, Warwickshire
30th June, Folk On The Quay, Poole
4th July, Talking Heads, Southampton
6th July, Milefest, Gloucester