Hannah Epperson: Shadowless
I know I don’t post often, I like to save my posts for content that really blows my mind, so on that note, meet this artist! She is the lovely, amazing, intelligent, talented and funny Hannah Epperson. She is the consummate professional and she was nice enough to answer my questions in and around her tours with various artists, releasing new music (from inside a flooding Alberta) and being chosen as one of the top 20 Peak Performance artists this year.
She has had an incredible last few months, which has included supporting poet Shane Koyczan. Hannah I love you!! Let’s just get that right out of the way; ok now onto it.
The Bio Part:
“Born and raised in Salt Lake City Utah, and armed with only her violin, loop pedal and voice, singer/songwriter Hannah Epperson is quietly rising in Western Canada’s music scene as a wild talent from Vancouver’s rising tide of indie artists. With just a 5 track home-recorded, self-released EP to her name, Hannah’s emergence as one of Canada’s ‘top artists to watch in 2013′ (CBC Radio) has been driven by word-of-mouth praise for her unguarded and deeply intimate solo performance.
Calling Vancouver home since 2002, she began collaborating with highly acclaimed independent musicians across the city. However, it wasn’t until a year-long hiatus from her studies in Human Geography at UBC that she began developing her solo project, experimenting with a loop pedal and her violin under derelict bridges in Berlin. “Making music was always – and still is – the mortar that holds together a series of discrete but hugely important elements in my life,” Hannah muses, “ – academics, sports, community, relationships.”
Since graduating at the top of her class in 2012, Hannah has given herself over to a rapidly advancing music career, sharing stages with acts like Royal Canoe, The Zolas, Aidan Knight and Shane Koyczan. Hannah is now working closely with Vancouver-based producer/musician Ajay Bhattacharyya (Data Romance) on a demo EP, which features Hannah’s loop-pedal beds of strings and airy vocals, but is underpinned by Ajay’s dark electronic signature and tastefully restrained production. Hannah tours with experimental orchestral-folk band Morlove.”
The Interview Part:
I know this week you are finally finding some time to yourself and will be releasing some new music, is this just a single you’re releasing or how many tracks will there be?
For now, I’m just releasing “Shadowless.” I’ve had a slew of conversations with different folks, all of whom circulate in different music spheres and have very different opinions about the most “strategic,” or “effective” ways to release music. The gent who produced this track is heavily involved in the electronic/online music world though, where it is commonplace to release individual tracks as opposed to EPs or full length albums. But to be totally honest, it’s a pain in the ass to sit atop a track that you just want to let go of and share. There are more coming, though. Yes indeed.
A lot of us were with you in spirit as you packed up and ran away to LA to support the amazing Shane Koyczan at TED, earlier this year (and was that Amanda Palmer I saw you hanging with?) Did working with Shane propel you anywhere new?
Working with Shane certainly gave me a new perspective on the world of entertainment art. Supporting him at the TED conference in Long Beach and then again at the Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood unveiled to me this formidable scalar field that I had never had exposure to, playing cafes and small venues in and around Vancouver. I cannot claim to have been ‘propelled’ into starstuff orbitals because of my involvement with Shane, but he is an incredible man who, as far as I can tell, is moved by a creative NEED to express certain emotive truths which exceed his own person. This has certainly propelled me in the way that I see art, creativity, expression and authenticity, which is ultimately the light at the end of the creation tunnel that we all strive towards.
Insert typical question that we always want the answers to: Who are your music heroes and influences, and people you would love to work with?
Outside of the classical music influences which were a big part of my aural conditioning as a kid, I think the discographies of Bjork and Radiohead have literally been worn out and replaced numerous times under my roof. Bjork is the reigning mythical creature of the music world to me, her creative process unfettered by, but definitely not afraid of, what is deemed conventional, acceptable, doable, digestible. In this way she appears to me as a timeless inventor. It would be the stuff of my dreams to work with her in any creative capacity … just as long as I could take residency on her private island! This question is always a killer though; there are just too many figures to love and pay respect to.
What are your thoughts about your future? Where will you be in 5 years?
I hope I will still be creating new sounds and performing alongside folks that I love and respect, assuming I have worthy material that has some capacity for positive affect. But truthfully I would love to go back to school and do my masters in urban planning and/or get certified as an outdoor experiential educator. I loved studying human geography in university and seem to have this affliction for the thrilling sense of vertigo I get when I’m surrounded by people, literature and academic journals, that ceaselessly show me how limited my perception and understanding of the world is. I’d love to always be able to share that sense of wonderment with other people, so going into education with a solid background in urban studies certainly has an allure I can’t disregard.
Are you a perfectionist?
I think anyone who isn’t a nihilist has a foot in the door of perfectionism. Maybe one way of understanding the psychology of the perfectionist is to see perfectionism as a simultaneous desire for control and self-betterment. Maybe a contradictory coupling, control and self-betterment, because control seems to be associated with statis/a lack of movement, whereas self-betterment is so much about movement, change over time. I constantly find myself riddled with these contradictory modes, so by this definition of perfectionism, I plead guilty.
How do your beliefs/spirituality influence your art?
I think the humility I experience when I’m surrounded by (above all) nature, is what gives me access to the emotive world that my music comes out of. Being surrounded by ocean water; a red rock desert; the rocky mountains; a bird-laden aspen grove; experiences like this inform the way I perceive myself within a series of systems that exceed me, and which inform the methods I have developed to express myself.
I think artists of all kinds are inside out, with their souls showing. What do you think your work tells people about your soul?
I don’t really care to think about what my work speaks of my soul. I like thinking of my music more as an opening into which people, myself included, can unfold into a shared emotive space. When I play live, my eyes are almost always closed and I experience the passing of time as movement through an almost psychedelic landscape. I feel very unguarded and spontaneous when I play, and focused inside the centre of the moment. What does that say about my soul? Nothing, everything. I recently read in about the collage artist Ludwig Zeller that “the artist never ‘wants’ to say anything, the artist is the craftsman of the encounter and with that everything is said.” Certainly an interesting insight about collage work, but so too does it apply to my own work, I think.
What makes you happy?
Being surrounded and humbled by nature. That is the closest thing I have to religion, I think … the elation and ecstasy of being both infinitely dwarfed by, but infinitely connected to, a world so outside of my self. I think true love has the power to do that too. But that’s for another conversation, to be opened after a bottle of red wine maybe….
What’s the most important thing you’ve ever learned?
I think one of the most important realizations I have had is that in life there are 1) things you have the power to change directly, 2) ways in which you can influence change and 3) things that you simply do not have control over. Identifying and classifying scenarios, situations and issues in your life as being either 1, 2 or 3 is challenging, to be sure, but ultimately liberates you from the threat of paralysis in a given situation and enables you to take action. I think this is what a stoic does.
What is one thing you have had to learn the hard way?
I have had an overwhelmingly blessed life, so it is awkward to suppose that I have ever had to learn anything “the hard way.” So awkward that I actually don’t know as I can honestly answer this question. I guess I could say something here though about learning the value of honesty; deceit is treacherous, self-annihilative and never ends well. Maybe I could say that I have learned “the hard way” (aka by making woeful mistakes) that open dialogue and hard honesty is always the better option.
Thank you Hannah ~ Carry on being your amazing self.
And get out July 4th to a big show at the Vogue! Hannah will be opening (along with The Belle Game and Jordan Klassen) for We Are The City!
More Hannah here!