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Interview: Hannah Trigwell

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Hannah Trigwell, Leeds born singer-songwriter turned Youtube sensation, talks about the long-awaited release of her debut album, RED.

“So, I started out busking, just on the streets around where I lived and then where I went to uni." Hannah begins, talking about her roots. "Then I discovered Youtube, which at the time was still kindof growing as a site, and I just thought it seemed like a really good way of getting feedback from people in other countries. So I would just upload performance videos of me of me busking, or at home playing or songwriting and my audience just started to build up steadily.”

Hannah joined Youtube in June 2006 and has, through regularly uploading videos of live performances of both her own music and cover songs, become one of the first music sensations to launch a career solely through the online platform.

“There were a lot of people putting videos on Youtube when I started, but certainly not as many as there are today. I think it looks like something that’s happened quite quickly, but in reality it did take quite a few years to build up a fanbase enough so that I could tour in this country and internationally.”

Hannah launched her first debut EP, Hold My Heart in 2010, a record which reached number 6 on the singer-songwriter charts and which led to her accompanying Boyce Avenue on their European tour.  Hannah later signed a record deal with the bands’ label 3 Peace Records, but after two years across the pond, producing covers for the Florida-based label, Hannah’s love of songwriting pulled her back to her roots.  

“It was a great experience. Really, really great and we recorded some good stuff together but when we were coming to the end of the two-year contract I started to think about what it was that I really wanted to do going forward. I had so much original material that was desperate to put out.”

“We just sat had a really honest conversation, because however much I do love putting my own spin on covers, my love is also in releasing original stuff regularly because I’m songwriting all the time and I just felt like had all this stuff accumulating on the shelf, and in the end I just realised that, no I really do want to get my own stuff out there.”

But Hannah’s time with Boyce Avenue had done more than reinforce this determination to release her own music again. It also inspired her to set up a label of her own (Teapot Records) – a true independent woman! 

“Ha! Well I haven’t signed a contract with myself! But yeah, I do release all my own music independently.”

“Initially it was just that you have to have a name for the label for any kind of independent release that you put out. But then, I don’t know it just sort of made sense. I had all these years of making contacts and learning about how the industry works both from an artist and from a business point of view.”

“I haven’t signed anyone to the label but we have a few releases out from other artists or bands who are independent, it’s a dream really. Teapot Records is definitely something I think I’ll be working at for a long time, because though I really am interested in making music, the business side fascinates me too.”

As well as providing a name for independent artists to release under, Hannah’s creative side has also come into play with her business acumen.

“I’ve written for a few other people, the last co-write that went out was by Oliver Pinder his single, Suffocating went out this year. I’ve done a lot of writing sessions with lots of artists, but you know it takes quite a while. Some of these songs on my latest album I wrote five years ago! So you know, I understand as well as anyone, that it can take quite a while between writing songs and being ready to put them out.”

Making the big leap from Youtube to the real-world stage was something Hannah had dreamt of throughout uni. But is also a skill she feels she owes, in part at least, to her time singing on the street of Leeds.

“My experience busking helped me out a lot when it came to performance nerves. I mean, I wouldn’t say I ever had any really negative experiences busking, but it definitely gives you a thicker skin!”

“When I started, I just kind of thought that you know, if someone starts doing something in the street that people would stop and listen but initially that just wasn’t the case. I became aware very early on that people were passing through and I was there trying to promote my music but people had their own thing that they were busy doing and they hadn’t asked for a concert you know!?”

“It’s very different to do a gig of your own especially when it’s headlining. But yes, busking definitely makes you realise what it takes to get people to stop and listen. I originally though that it would be things like playing louder but that actually did the opposite!”

RED, Hannah’s first and long-awaited album, will be released under her own Teapot Records and feature the two-track Hannah released as singles earlier this year.

“I think that ‘Nobody’ and ‘A Beautiful Mistake’ were quite good tasters of what’s to come on the album, although there a few really stripped back acoustic songs which focus in on the vocal a little bit more.”

No it’s going to be great. It’s largely made up of acoustic riffs and palm muted guitar, there’s an electric guitar line too and I really, for many years have been a huge fan of Phil Collins so there’s a lot of drum fills in there too!" 

“The whole album is just a real mix of all the genres which have influenced my songwriting in the past and I feel like it really shows who I am and where I’ve come from and how I’ve grown as an artist.”

Hannah’s favourite song though is one which sits and is sung, very close to her heart.

“There’s a song called ‘Without You’ which I think would have to be my song on the album. It just feels so honest and raw. It’s definitely the most storytelling song out of the whole album and I’ve kept it really stripped down so the lyrics really resonate.

‘It’s also something that actually happened to me… so yeah. The song in general means a lot when I sing it. I have had to stop myself crying on stage before, which would be really embarrassing! Yes. Out of all of them. That’s the one that gets to me.” 

Going forward, Hannah is planning a headline tour for the RED album, which will be released in early 2018. But beyond that Hannah’s dreams stretch far beyond our own rainy horizons.

“I’m really looking forward to a gig I’m playing in London on December 15th, which is like the last RED preview show. But I’ll definitely be doing an album headline tour, hopefully in the spring.

“I’d really like to tour in South East Asia. That would be the big dream. We did a couple of shows in Quatar, and I had a lot of people fly in from the Philippines and Indonesia - I know I lot of my fanbase lives there – and just so many of them came over to the show in Dohar it was just kindof amazing to me because you know, they’d travelled over just to see me and I just didn’t expect it at all.”

Hannah Trigwell’s debut album, RED will be released in early 2018.

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