Home Music album How DJ and film composer Hannah Holland made her debut album in a shipping container

How DJ and film composer Hannah Holland made her debut album in a shipping container

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As actor and shaker of the queer London club scene, acclaimed film composer and now solo artist, Hannah Holland’s sonic aesthetic is unique, falling somewhere between the thud of rave and scenery. more cinematic sound.

First album, Tectonic, recorded at his adopted home in Margate, touches on these two musical worlds, creating something fresh and new through their collision.

“I took the opportunity to immerse myself in all my influences from all the years that I was involved and loved the music,” she says of building the new record.

“There are songs influenced by drum’n’bass, then more downtempo songs, Boards of Canada style, as well as a lot of post-punk basslines from Kim Deal. I brought all of these different sounds into the mix on the record.

It’s certainly an eclectic offering, ranging from club rhythm defying genres to Shutters larger screen, raised Atomic dancer, however, the 12 tracks of the album are still a coherent set of works.

“I really wanted to play with the depth and spaciousness of the sound of the tracks,” says Hannah. “I tried to go into great detail with the music to create that cinematic feel.”

Hannah’s musical foundations were first established in London as a teenager when she picked up a bass guitar and started playing in bands. Hanging out in concert halls and rehearsal spaces, performing and writing songs led to a formative work experience as a music video runner.

“I started to learn how to edit video clips, and it was essential in helping me translate my ideas into my music,” she explains.

“I discovered that editing visuals was similar to editing and producing music. I ended up working in this world for five or six years, and it really influenced what I do now.

Thanks to these creative explorations, Hannah began to turn to the DJ, hosting parties in London in the mid-2000s and earning a reputation for incendiary sets. Her company Batty Bass has been one of the capital’s most notorious parties that has spilled over into label and remix work, and she continues to be a regular breeder at parties and venues ranging from Adonis at Fabric at the Panorama Bar in Berlin.

“I started producing dance music when we desperately wanted to create our own songs for our club night,” she explains.

“I started working with singers and created the label to release our productions. Then I started getting offers for remix work, which was a great way to gain experience, working with the stems of other exciting pieces of music.

Hannah Holland

Hannah would create the majority of the music in her studio before adding the finishing touches with an engineer. Justin Blake, half of electronic music duo Peace Division, was an influential collaborator who helped Hannah create her sound, in part inspired by her time spent in clubs.

“Being a DJ has helped me when it comes to working in the studio,” she says. “I spent so much time focusing on crowd energy, and it definitely influenced the way I make music.”

Prior to this full record, Hannah’s music production was an assortment of releases, remixes, singles and EPs alongside her DJing. But when independent label PRAH Recordings came up with the idea for an album, new music poured in.

“I never intended to do this before because I’ve been so used to doing EPs and working on bigger projects in different areas rather than solo releases,” says Hannah. .

“Then I started writing this record in May of last year. I had plenty of ideas already, but once I really got down to it, I just came up with this brand new set of music. I think there is only one track left from before that matches the rest.

Hannah Holland

Hannah drew on a huge range of influences for the LP, citing everything from Tindersticks and Kompakt’s Superpitcher to minimal rhythms and ambient tones as points of reference.

“The KLF Relax inspired me because it has so many weird samples, ”she says. “I really love how weird and continuous it is, and while I don’t think my album looks like it, those kinds of concepts were swirling around in my head.”

Hannah produced the album in Margate with Al Harle, engineer at Big Jelly Studios and former collaborator of his band Black Gold Buffalo. Recording at Big Jelly gave him access to an arsenal of music-making machines.

“Big Jelly Studios have a lot of nice vintage machines,” says Hannah. “Like that Copicat Tape Delay from the 1970s, this really nice Great British Spring Reverb from the 80s. The digital delays were made with an old Monarch 80s BBD dub echo and an original Lexicon PCM60. All of this helped us achieve that wobbly and unique sound.

Hannah’s approach was to take the stems of the tracks, then re-amplify and re-record through Big Jelly’s hot-blooded machines to add an extra layer of character to her sound. She was joined in the studio by cellist Francesca Ter-Berg and violinist Raven Bush.

Hannah Holland

“It was amazing to take advantage of their great equipment. We re-amplified the guitars via their WEM and Simms Watts amps. All other external effects for pitch shifting and harmonization were done with a Sony TCM-5000. It gave the music the depth I was looking for.

Hannah uses Ableton’s Session view to start her musical sketches and brainstorm new ideas. It lists the Arturia V collection, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, Waves, Soundtoys, and the Korg Legacy collection as the main called plugins.

“I usually start with Guitar Rig because there are some really interesting sound combinations you can find,” explains Hannah.

“I used this Korg Prologue and a very heavy Yamaha CS6X which my friend also got rid of when I was working on the record. It has these really cool bass sounds that you can find everywhere.

While every piece in the kit is useful, alongside her writing, Hannah largely believes in the personality of TectonicBig Jelly’s textures and their collection of idiosyncratic equipment

“The uniqueness came when I brought the stems to Big Jelly. I was able to find the strangeness of the physicality of their old machines and the processing of sounds through them.

“I’m not a big fan of gear, because I’ve used a minimum configuration for so long. “

Hannah’s relationship with the equipment is very functional, motivated as much by the realities of space and money as by choice.

“I have a limited palette because I have a limited budget,” she laughs. “I’m not a huge fan of gear because I’ve used a minimum configuration for so long. I’m just trying to manipulate whatever sound I can get into something I like.

She cites the move to the seaside town of Margate as an influential event. The city of Kent has become a mecca for creatives looking for a space relatively close to London.

“When I lived in the capital, I shared studios all the time. But at Margate you have the space to expand and expose yourself to this great community of artists and music makers. Everyone is interested in collaborating, which makes it a very creative environment to be a part of.

Hannah Holland

With the Tectonic album whose release is imminent, Hannah is delighted to unleash it in the world and to embark on many DJ concerts to celebrate the arrival of the album. She also looks back on her background in musical creation, offering advice to anyone looking to follow in her footsteps.

“It’s a game for the long haul,” she explains, “So you have to accept the fact that you won’t be creating a banger every time you write. “

“Even if you don’t use what you create, every time you write something you are learning something new. Working like this and being open to any new or different art form is a really great way to write and move yourself and your music forward.

Tectonic will be released on September 17th via PRAH Recordings.

Visit hannahholland.bandcamp.com/album/tectonic to learn more.