05 October 2011

Scots Way-Hay #70 - Will Hanson

Quite often I do find myself finding that I just have far too much music to listen to, that constant barrage of listening to new things means that I can quite often hear something that I like that I think I'll come back to. But then I get sent something else that I'll like, so unless I write it down (god I sound fucking old now) I'll forget to revisit an artist that I had meant to feature. Will Hanson is one such artist that's fallen foul of my constant need for something new. Having been sent his album 'Moving A Body' a few months back, I listened to it a lot for a couple of weeks and thought I'll have to come back to that. Alas it got lost in the pile, thankfully a clear out of my car a couple of weeks reminded me how much I'd enjoyed it. Fuck I am waffling again, sorry folks, on with the music eh?! He's already been compared to a million different folk from the likes of The Delgados and Frightened through to Mogwai and Portishead. I guess it's safe to say that there's a lot going on here, but as crazy as it all might sound it works, it works pretty fucking well in fact. Right that's enough pish from me for one post, here's Will with some more sensible words for you all...

Would you care to introduce yourself to the Peenko readers?

I’d love to… my name is Will Hanson… I’m a musician who has just released a new album “Moving A Body”, and it’s all going rather well just now. I’m originally from London via a brief stint in New York but live in Glasgow.

It’s that question that all artists seem to hate answering, but how would you describe the music you make?

I like this question!! I’d describe it as a mix between quite traditional songwriting with verses and choruses, combined with the heavier elements of other styles. I think that the solo artist thing has been done to death and it’s generally pretty dull, so I try to give it a bit of a kick - mix it up with bits of the other music I love, which aren’t traditionally thought of as compatible, like post-rock, horror soundtracks, dub, classical, punk, electronica and pop, but it’s always about serving the song.

Is there a certain process that goes into the way you write songs?

Generally speaking I like to write the skeleton of a song in isolation on either a guitar or a glockenspiel - just really simple melodies and most of the lyrics. Then I’ll go away and fine tune the lyrics, that usually takes between an hour and a month - sometimes even longer... Then we’ll start thinking about the arrangement- sometimes it’ll just happen organically- other times it’ll take ages. But whatever it ends up sounding like, the most important thing is keeping that initial “bedroom vibe” alive from the point of conception right up to when it’s being performed. There’s always a danger of losing the original emotion of the song if it’s tinkered with too much

What artists would you say have had the biggest influence on your music?

Another question I like… all kinds of artists and music. But in terms of specific influences - what’s literally being said is really important to me so when it comes to lyrics I’d say Nick Cave, Thea Gilmore, Future of the Left, Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Edgar Allan Poe, and loads of cinematic stuff- particularly horror stuff... In terms of songwriting I like a lot of different things, but I love the Pogues, The Pixies, Shelby Lynne, Jeff Buckley, Anna Calvi at the moment, Radiohead, John Lee Hooker, The Cure, McLusky, alot of sixties soul music too... When it comes to arrangements and fleshing out songs, I look to pretty much everything from Slayer, Radiohead, The Beatles, D’Angelo, Mogwai, Amiina, FourTet. But having said all that, If I want the music to capture anything, it’s that feeling I remember having sitting in the back of my parents’ car when I was just getting into music, putting on my headphones and listening to people like Guns and Roses, Hendrix and Rage Against the Machine, and just having that feeling of being thrilled by it all. I’m aiming high.

What would you like someone who’s listening to your music for the first time to take away from your music?

Good question. I suppose it’s all about narrative and atmosphere isn’t it? A simple answer would be that I just want to connect an atmosphere with an audience- I hope that it has the intimacy of people like Anthony and the Johnsons, with the cinematic hugeness of artists like Brian Eno or My Bloody Valentine. One review recently said the album was like a young Leonard Cohen fronting Mogwai. I’d settle for that.

Do you feel that where you come from has had much of an impact on the music that you create?

Definitely- in more ways than one. But the two things I always go back to are the heritage thing, and the environment thing, both of which are impossible to ignore. Growing up in London, you’re always aware of the amazing mix of musical communities, and the heritage of acts who blended those musical styles, like the Clash who mixed punk with dub and everything else. Then there’s Mod, Notting Hill Carnival, Punk, - there’s a lot to be proud of coming from London. Having said that, people move to London from all over the world to “make it” so there is a lot of nonsense to sift through. When it comes to the environment thing, I think living in Glasgow comes through in the music...First there’s the post-rock thing. Glasgow is to post-rock what Memphis is to Rock and Roll. As a fan of all the Chemikal Underground stuff, it was really good to record the album at Chem19 with Jamie Savage (with a little help from Creative Scotland) and be in that environment. In a more literal sense, I think the weather drives you indoors here so there are fewer excuses not to hone your craft... The community of artists in Glasgow is far more supportive than it is competitive. I think this encourages freedom to do what you want a bit more...

What has been your most memorable gig to date, (be it good or bad)?

I’d say our album launch at the beginning of September at the 13th Note. It was just one of those amazing nights where everything came together on stage. In the live show there’s six of us with a strings section on stage, and it was only our 3rd gig with that line up but it was better than any time we’d rehearsed for some reason- the stars aligned and it just sounded immense. It bodes well.

Aside from world domination, what are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?

Ha ha… What more is there? But yeah aside from world domination- just simple really - getting the music to peoples’ ears. So I guess promotion and gigs… loads of gigs. The album is out so it’s just a matter of getting more and more people to hear it now- the reviews so far have been really good, so we’re going to be taking the show around the country and then maybe heading off to South by Southwest in March. For now though, it feels like we’re at the tipping point so we’re going to ride this momentum and see what happens.

Will Hanson - Our Basket

Will Hanson's new album 'Moving A Body' comes out on the 31st of October through 12/26 Music. You can catch him playing at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh on the 3rd of December.


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