Hi Hannah, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been really good! I have a lot of exciting things happening right now, and lot’s of new projects, so that always puts me in a good mood.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “How to Stop?”
Yes, “How to Stop” was one of the first songs I ever wrote by myself. I had moved back into my parents house after college to save money to move to NY, and I felt like a failure, and I had no one to make music with so I started to experiment in Logic, and I would make tracks late at night, with the help of some wine, and listen the next morning to see what ideas were any good. How to Stop was about my destructive urges, specifically to be with someone that would put me in a bad situation, but when I’m dealing with my darker emotions I usually lean towards sabotage, so “How to Stop” came out as my way of processing. I was listening to a lot of Bjork and White Hinterland as well…
Who came up with the chilling concept?
When writing this EP I knew that a song was good because I would see the visual as I was writing it. I’d been sitting with HTS for a long time, and I always pictured this figure with jagged movements and these detailed muscles, so when I met the director, Kevin W. Condon, I had a location and that sort of vision in mind, and he got this incredible team, and really took it to the next level. It’s such a delicate and beautiful piece. I’m so glad it’s out in the world.
How was the film experience?
It was amazing and stressful, hahah. We had two days at this amazing place and it took a lot of planning and quick work to get all of the shots done in that time, but it felt great to have such an experienced and talented crew. It was my first video, and it was very professional. I thought maybe we’d have three people, but Kevin got a crew of about 15 people on board, each with exceptional talent, even had MAC sponsor the makeup, and that is why the video is as beautiful as it is. It takes a village of talents.
The single comes off your new album To The Almost – what’s the story behind the title?
The songs were about all of my early relationships. These people that I had given my heart to and that weren’t capable of holding it. That’s one of the ways we learn self-love. We leave those that don’t help us be our best selves, because we deserve that. So, it’s a letter to them, to the almosts. The ones that showed me how incredible life could be, but also who taught me to be cautious, and who taught me that I had to make my own rules when it came to love. Every relationship requires something different, and you can’t always go with what society says is acceptable. You have to go with what feels best for you. What allows you to serve yourself, and therefore serve others, to your best capacity.
How was the recording and writing process?
Writing all happened in my bedroom in my pjs, ahhaha. I would start with percussion, bass, then some strings or guitar and put my melodies and lyrics on top of that. The track was my roadmap, and then I’d sing on top of it, and go back and edit the lyrics that came out. Many times I didn’t know what the songs meant until I was done with them, and then I would see what my mind was trying to figure out. Like, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know I was feeling that way!’
Recording was mostly me and Avi in the studio recording live elements over my original tracks. We did go to Boston to record the string arrangements he created, which was amazing, and had Jonathan Levy come in to play guitar, but most of it was recorded at Engine Room Audio, where I have a shared work space with J Chris Griffin Productions.
What was it like to work with Avi Gunther and how did that relationship develop?
I knew Avi’s wife, Brianne, from school, and I was songwriting with her. One day I showed Avi my bedroom tracks, and he said that he would be ‘honored’ to work with me on them! That is the type of guy he is. Incredibly brilliant and humble. He understood better than I how to get these stories across, and he was always insistent about getting the absolute best sounds from the instruments.
How much did he get to influence the album?
I had no idea how to create a full production, so I really needed guidance. He always talked me through everything, but he definitely brought his own ideas to it. He arranged the strings, percussion, and guitars and really helped me arrange my demos. I definitely could not have created such a full brilliant sound on my own, and getting to work with someone on that level for my first EP was unbelieveable
How conceptual was this album intended to be?
I mean, I was able to sit with my demos for about a year. When writing them I wasn’t intending to make an album with them. I just had all of these amazing circumstances that led me to be able to work with these brilliant people. I think the pains that I felt in my early 20’s were reflected from my relationships with other people. They were a mirror to my own errors, to my insecurities, so I think the songs have a through line because of that. I always saw it as being a very visual album. I think I feel that way about all of my music. I want it to be immersive. I love finding artists who take me into their world.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
The inspiration… well, when I write songs I improvise the lyrics and melodies over the music, and they come out pretty conceptualized. I go back and edit some lyrics, but it’s through this process that I understand my own subconscious I guess. When I’m not writing my mind is usually more manic than usual. It’s like when people describe playing sports, or getting in the zone. So, the inspiration came from those around me that were affecting me, and I didn’t realize their effect until after the song.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, I have new works coming out, and I am performing in both Miami, FL and in New York, but next year I will be doing even more traveling.
What else is happening next in Hannah Sumner’s world?
Well, I have a new album called Guesthouse coming out next year. I’m excited for that. Every track is a collaboration with a different producer. I got to work with some of my favorites, so I’m really happy about that! And yeah, I’m really exploring ableton, and playing solo shows which is something I’ve always wanted to do.