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INTERVIEW: Hannah Ayrault

How would you classify your music?

My music is singer-songwriter pop with a little bit of a folk flair. I always find it hard to put it into a single category!

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

The first one that comes to mind is Jason Mraz. I started listening to his music when I was about ten years old and that’s what inspired me to start writing. I always loved listening to him because his songs had so much power and emotion behind them. His happy songs made me feel happy, his sad songs made me feel sad. It was the first time I listened to music and felt things and realized, “hey, I could do this too!”

I love Sara Bareilles, she plays piano like me and her songs are so blunt and honest and sometimes hilarious. Plus her vocal range is out of this world.

I grew up with my dad playing oldies around the house, so I’d definitely say Frank Sinatra is an influence.

I also grew up listening to Norah Jones and the Beatles. Both big influences for me.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

I want my fans to be able to relate to the situations that I write about and know that whatever they’re going through, they’re not alone. I think young people, girls especially, take comfort in knowing that.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

My first EP, Me Right Now, was released on iTunes and Spotify in mid September. I wrote all of the songs myself during my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. It was written during a huge transition period in my life. I was worried because I didn’t know what the future held for me.. We recorded the songs down in Nashville during my freshman year.

I had only recorded acoustic versions of my songs before, so it’s definitely different from my previous work. But as a debut EP, I’m so proud of it. We put a year of hard work and love into it and I think it definitely paid off.

What do you love and hate about the Music Business?

I love that it’s possible to pursue music as a profession. And you don’t have to be an artist or a musician to be involved in the business- you can be an entertainment lawyer, a talent agent, a publisher… The list goes on and on. In this business, you’re able to meet some of the most talented, creative and genuine people which is another perk. Unfortunately there are some sleezy aspects of this business. Luckily, I’ve never been in a bad situation, but I always have to keep my eyes open. You have to be extra cautious and research everything. And if something seems to good to be true (for example, if you’re offered a record deal out of the blue) it probably is. There’s a lot of money in this business and sometimes people are looking to exploit you.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

I saw Paul McCartney live at Comerica Park a few years back and it was so amazing. The stadium was completely sold out. Hearing 50,000 people sing along to Hey Jude was definitely a highlight. He was around 70 at the time and still sounded like a rockstar and had an incredible band backing him up.

I really enjoy playing live. My band and I like to create different types of covers. For example, we have a reggae mashup of “No Scrubs”, “Say My Name”, and “Cry Me a River” that brings the house down. We’ve been playing some smaller shows, and what we like to do is ask for requests. And then we look up the chords for the song and play it then and there.

It’s really great to see people enjoying the music you create, whether they’re full out dancing or just tapping their feet or smiling or whatever. I’m always happy to see people connecting and relating to the music.

Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

My favorite song is “Stay”. From a production standpoint, I love the instrumentation and the background vocals. It was weird- whenever I write, I hear the song fully produced in my head. Sometimes when you describe how you want a song to sound, your ideas can get lost in the shuffle, but it was produced exactly how I wanted it to be. I wrote the song while I was at Interlochen (an arts boarding school) during a transitional period. I finally felt at home there and I was having second thoughts about leaving and going to college. The first time I got to play it was with two of my good friends singing backup vocals and it was such a great moment.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business?

I think my songwriting has matured with me. I began writing four-chord songs about boys using easy melodies and progressions, but over time, I’ve learned so much about music theory and composition. I challenge myself to make every new song I write better than the last one. And I don’t just write about boys- I write about life. I tell more stories. And I’m more confident in my music than I’ve ever been.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

Frank Sinatra. I feel like he’d have some pretty great stories to tell me.

So tell us what’s next?  

I’m really excited to play South By Southwest down in Austin on March 18 and 19! 🙂

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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