Interview by Carol Wright | Photographer: Przemyslaw Marek Przystup
We got to chat with musician Hannah Robinson about her single “The Well” and how a book by Haruki Murikami inspired the song.
Has music always been your go-to creative outlet?
Not always – my first outlet was drawing and painting, as well as drama and dance, and I studied graphic design and then fine art painting after leaving school. Music ran alongside those things when I started playing and writing in my teens, and then took over, but I still paint, and I generally love to make things and write. I have to be mindful not to spread myself too thin, but they all benefit each other, I think. There are lots of parallels between them.
Tell our readers about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and how that inspired your song “The Well?”
It’s a book by Haruki Murikami that Patti Smith mentioned in a book of hers I was reading, so I thought I’d check it out. I found it to be very dream-like, and there was a line in it that said, ‘maybe you’ve got this deep well inside, and you shout into it.’ The image of the well stuck with me, the idea of pouring emotions down into a deep place inside you.
Are you often inspired by things you see and read when it comes to making your music?
This is the first time I’ve been so directly influenced by a specific line, or literature generally, thinking about it. Most often, ideas start with something I’ve felt or experienced personally. I try not to write songs in a way that’s too autobiographical or literal, but I like things to begin from a place that’s real and that I can connect with emotionally.
Outside of making your own music you sing and play guitar for John Illsley. What have you learned through performing with John?
Doing my thing can be quite a solitary experience a lot of the time, so I love playing with John and the band. I can feel myself sharpening up musically when I play with other people. Working alongside such great guitarists – Robbie McIntosh, Paul Stacey, and Scott McKeon – I’ve tried to just watch and learn. Performing that set is also a lesson in great songwriting, and I really enjoy being in a supportive role serving the songs, rather than being the one fronting the gig. Having the opportunity to travel has been amazing too.
Who are some of your musical influences?
PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Gillian Welch, Laura Marling, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten… There are so many, but those are some of the big ones!
What advice do you have for aspiring singers?
I’m still figuring it out, but I’d say… Listen to as much music as you can and find a supportive community of like-minded people that you click with. Think about what being ‘successful’ looks like for you (it’s different for everyone I think) and let that help you focus your aim and your energy. Find your ‘thing’ and always keep working on yourself.