HANNAH RODRIGUEZ: THE LONDON-BASED MUSICIAN REIGNITING THE JAZZ FLAME
Musician and vocalist Hannah Rodriguez is providing those soothing harmonies, jazzy beats and passionate lyricism. Matthew Knight caught up with Hannah about her recent single ‘A Lover Like You’, the inspirations behind her writing and her musical processes.
The beginnings of her musical journey began when she was a child, singing to her Dad’s CDs: “Me and my dad used to go swimming, and we used to drive there and it was like a 45 minute journey. He used to always play CDs in the car so I used to sing along to all of that stuff.
“There was this CD that he had on every single time for like half a year, it’s called Jazz for Dinner and it had a mixture of artists on it like Jamie Cullum, Amy Winehouse, some other people as well like Nina Simone. We got a karaoke machine, so me and my brother used to sing on that.”
Whenever Hannah had to choose whether to keep music in her school timetable, her dedication to her art became more and more serious: “I remember when we had to choose our GCSEs and I chose music, I think each time we had to decide whether to keep music in our selection of subjects, it became a bit more serious. Then by sixth form I think I decided that it was the route I wanted to go down, cos I’d started writing songs and stuff by then. I started writing songs when I was about 14 maybe.”
Hannah went on to describe what causes the urge for her to write music: “It used to be the case that I could only really write songs if I was in an extreme emotional state, like if I was really happy or really sad.
“But yeah it’s kinda changed now cos I’ve taught myself how to produce, and now sometimes I’ll start with the music. I’d start with the instrumental rather than just playing guitar and singing. It varies, sometimes I kind of go back to the old way with the guitar and then sometimes I’d make a beat and just make shit up on top.”
The process of creating music individually is what prompted her to learn how to produce herself: “It started out being a situation that I didn't have anyone to work with so that was why I taught myself how to produce.
“I was like right, I'm not going to get anywhere unless I do everything myself, but I think because I’ve got so used to that way now when I work with other people it’s like, they send me a track, I write it, I record my part and send them the stems and that’s it.”
The practicality and handiness of the Internet made the collaboration with Bristol-based The Caravan Collective an easier process: “I’ve got one track out with them now and then I've got another one on the way. I feel like we get each other musically, but they’re in bristol so they’re a bit out of the way so it’s all kinda online.
“I’d only just met them for the first time when we were performing live in Bristol.”
Kendal, Hannah’s hometown, has it’s perks but London is where you need to be to network within the industry, as she continued: “It’s a nice place to chill out, but there’s not really anything going on there. There’s a much bigger network of people that are some how involved with music, so it’s kinda better to have connections here.”
I still don't know what I'm doing but I can make shit sound good so I'm happy
Gigs and performances seem to have fallen in place for her as she recalled: “I used to do this open mic and then got to know the house band that ran that and did a couple of other ones with them.
“I haven’t really had that many gigs I've just kinda been lucky with the ones I've had. Like the Roundhouse, I had a friend who was organising the Roundhouse Rising event so I got to sing there through her. Then Ronnie Scotts, that was someone that found me through one of the band members. So yeah I’ve just been kinda been lucky with the ones I've had.”
She mentioned how the confined process of making music results in having less time getting gigs: “I haven't really been doing many gigs, and when I'm making music I get really absorbed in that because I do it all independently it’s quite isolating.
“I kinda just shut myself away if I'm concentrating on that, and then I'm like, ah shit I haven't met anyone for ages.”
Hannah’s recently released single ‘A Lover Like You’ screams 80s jazz bars and sublime harmonies, she described how the song came about: “With the music that I make it’s not like I do it all at once, I might have big gaps of not working on it. It took quiet a while with this one lyrically, because I want my lyrics to be really honest and accurate of what I'm trying to say, and an accurate representation of the situation that I'm singing about.
“I think because it’s really emotional and it’s about an important subject. I’d write things and I’ll be like, is that exactly what I mean? No it’s not, so I try to do it again cos I want each word to be exactly right. So lyrically it took me ages to write which doesn't normally happen but the production didn’t really take that long.”
It came as a surprise to her that the production came out as well as it did, despite the messiness of the process: “I was quite surprised cos I did it in a really messy way; I just found this sample of the brushes, and then it was kinda like they were out of time and I didn't know what the tempo was or anything, so I started with them and just kinda recorded the guitar and did everything on top.
“But like I started off without a tempo, I just did the whole thing, the whole song without knowing anything about the timing, or what key its in. I still don't know what key its in, or what chords I was playing but yeah it didn’t take that long considering it was very unorganised.”
The final outcome of the single is something that Hannah is pleased about: “I'm quite proud of it, I think each song that I make is just getting better and better in terms of production which I am really happy about. I found it really hard when I first started trying to produce cos I'm really bad, I'm like a granny, I'm really shit with like software and technology and stuff, I just can’t do it. I still don't know what I'm doing but I can make shit sound good so I'm happy.”
With the harmonic jazzy feel of her songs at the moment, the unreleased music Hannah is sitting on are going to be experimenting with her sound: “The other song I was gonna release before A Final Toast has kinda got a bit of a latin, samba feel to it, but it was annoying me so I didn’t release it. But then it’s also got like heavy harmonies and stuff and it’s kinda similar to the new one.
“I think they’re all gonna be kinda on the same wavelength, but going down different routes and experimenting with different genres a little bit.”
Artists like Puma Blue, Kali Uchis, and King Krule are all influences to Hannah’s sound, and influences are bound to appear in your music, as she pointed out: “I can notice Kali Uchis quite bit cos she uses a lot of harmonies and I use a lot of harmonies. Puma Blue and King Krule in terms of like instruments, cos I've started playing guitar on my tracks now and then I've been using loads of reverb and stuff, and jazz chords”.
If you’re looking for a jazzy, RnB and hiphop infused experience of salient listening then you can find Hannah at Mahiki in Mayfair on the 7th of November.
October 15th 2018