Updated: Dec 14, 2019
I would be the first to admit that ever since I moved away from the magazine editorial world, I've disconnected from music. Tending to retreat back to my 90's faves, I've been missing out from some of the hottest talents marching thick and fast from the UK. Hannah V is one of these such talents. After being sent the link to her kick ass and power woman infused EP 'No Limit' Hannah V is the epitome of female empowerment and being a voice the refuses to be silenced. Each song is an anthem for women who walk to the beat of their own drum and refuse to be confined or defined by anyone.
From performing with Rihanna and Eminem at the world famous Staples Center to being a Gold Selling Music Producer, Hannah V has had her fair share of success. Though, by no means has this been an easy feat. With every setback, Hannah B has been able to come back bigger and better than before and takes time out to speak on her resilience, the importance of her staying true to her cultural roots and the pros and cons of being an independent artist as well as the joy she felt releasing her own EP we delved in to find out more about this producer on the rise....
I'm interested to learn how you got into music initially and how did your path lead you to writing for these talents?
I started playing piano as a kid and went down the usual classical route initially. I loved it (and still do!) But as I hit my moody teenage years, I stopped taking piano lessons. Fortunately, I went to a school with a great music department, so started playing in bands, ensembles, choirs etc - I also played in my church on a regular basis. I eventually got introduced to jazz by my big band teacher in school, and the rest was a wrap! I was hooked from then on. I came to London to study jazz piano, moved into being a session musician, and then decided to become a full time producer 5 years ago. Phew - it’s been a journey and a half, and I still feel like I have only begun!
What was the defining factor that made you decide to venture out and begin to work on your own material?
I think every creative has that need for ownership. We all want something that belongs to US, represents us 100%, you know? I loved playing for artists and I love producing for artists. But there was never a doubt in my mind that I needed a project that was unequivocally ME. So there wasn’t really a single defining factor - it was just something that HAD to happen!
Your EP is heavily infused with tracks that ooze attitude and each some comes with its own clear message. How did you decide upon its overall theme?
The themes of the tracks are really decided by the featured artists. I don’t write lyrics, so let my singers and rappers do their thing, but we sit and discuss the topics and make sure we are on the same page. I’m blessed to work with artists that have such individuality in their voices, delivery and lyrics - that combined with my beats makes for some heat!
You worked with some of the finest female talents to come out of the UK music scene including Misha B and Shystie, two talents I've been lucky to see perform live. What was the highlight working with these women and what other female talents would you love to work with in the future?
There were so many highlights with working w these two artists! It took me three years to get Shystie in the studio - I kept sliding into her DM’s and sending her beats until at one point she said - ’FINE, I’ll come to the studio’ - ha! We ended up becoming great friends and work together so much now. It’s a trip for me to have her featured on my music, as I am such a fan of hers! Her skills are honestly just amazing, Shy will quietly sit in the back with her laptop and in 20 mins have the most banging lyrics ever! I love working with her AND watching her work.
Misha B is another one of those artists with just unbelievable skills - music just flows through her. She recorded our track ‘Liberate Yourself’ in one take!!! Immediate perfect performance - my jaw was on the floor.
There’s so many great female artists in the UK! I would love to work with Hamzaa, IAMDDB, Lady Leshurr, Ms Dynamite, Emile Sande etc - the list is truly endless!
There are pros and cons to being an independent artist, for you, what would you say they are?
The pro’s are creative freedom for sure. I didn’t overthink the sound of the EP, I just did what came naturally. The con’s are not having a massive team behind you supporting you along the way. It meant that my management and I really had to knuckle down to make sure the music was heard!
You are a GOLD selling producer, how proud are you of your achievements to date?
I mean - it’s still surreal, you know? I’ve got my plaque on my studio wall and every time I look at it I am filled with strength. It IS possible, regardless of where you come from to achieve great things.
What has been your most effective tool is raising awareness about your music to your audience?
Social media has been a great tool for me. I feel I have grown my support base naturally - and I let people into my world by showing clips of me in my studio and being quite honest about the process. So, my followers knew I was building up to a release and the support has really been great.
What or who motivates you?
My family, my culture, my upbringing, everything!
My dad moved to Berlin from India with $10 dollars in his pocket and managed to raise a family of 3 kids. I look at him and think - if he can do THAT, then I can do this, you know?
I am also incredibly motivated by the desire to change the scenery of this male dominated industry. It goes without saying that there are not many brown, female producers that make urban/beat driven music! So, 99% of the time, I am the first female producer artists have worked with. I believe there is a certain responsibility attached to being ‘the first’ - representation is SO important and therefore my job is much bigger than me, much bigger than music! I have no doubt that in 10 years time, young females aspiring to be producers will look at women like me and think - ‘well, she did it, so let me have a bash!’
Of course, pioneering anything comes with it’s own sacrifices and there a constant knock backs - that’s just the reality of being in any minority. But that’s not gonna stop us, is it?!
On the path to success we often come up against barriers that knock us off our path. Have you come up against any challenges on the way, if yes, what were they and what steps did you take to overcome them?
One of the main barriers I’ve struggled with is my own insecurity. Even though I have practiced my entire life and have always taken music so seriously- I am still sometimes riddled with self - doubt. We all know we shouldn’t compare our journeys to others, but that’s easier said than done! I am still figuring out how to exactly manoeuvre these tricky times, but I am definitely a lot better than I used to be!
What I am realising now though, is that a lot of times these ‘breakdowns’ are breakthroughs. Whenever I get through these low periods, I realise that I have actually stretched and challenged myself musically. I have discovered a new part of me. I have overcome another hurdle and I am stronger for it!
What has been the biggest highlight of your career to date?
There are so many highlights in my career that it is hard to pick one!
Playing Staples Center with Rihanna and Eminem being our surprise guest was definitely one of those ‘woah - how is this even my life’ moments. The icing on the cake - my grandma was in the audience in her beautiful bright orange sari and later asked ‘who was that man jumping around on stage?’ HA!
When I first heard one of my tracks on radio, I burst into tears. To finally be an artist in my own right - to have a ‘Hannah V’ tune be heard - wow - that feeling was indescribable.
My job has allowed me to see some of the most beautiful places in the world. From a snowball fight on the Great Wall of China, to hanging out on Ipanema Beach in Rio - these moments were magical and I truly truly feel blessed that traveling is a byproduct of my job.
What has been the best advice you have been give along the way?
I’ve had so many nuggets of truth passed along to me over the years. One recent piece of advice was given to me by producer, musician and gospel legend Nicky Brown:
‘You have to measure up to your responsibility. You have to measure up to what you believe God gave you and do the best you can with the tools you have.’
I was so blown away by this piece of advice that I turned it into an interlude on my EP!
What can we look forward to from you in the coming months?
More music! Always more music. A few more singles from my EP, I’m also working with some really exciting artists over here in the UK and in Germany - so watch this space!!!
What makes you a 'Woman Who Slays’?
I don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. ’No’ for me only means ‘Not yet.’ And I can live with ‘Not Yet’ - all it means is that I have to keep my head down, keep working on my craft and keep fighting the good fight until the ‘Not Yet’ turns into a ‘Let’s Go’!
By Sasha Bennett @Women_Who_Slay_