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|Written by Innika La Fontaine|
|Wednesday, 14 October 2009 16:50|
It's been a whirlwind two years for Ontarian-born, Vancouver-based, songstress Hannah Georgas.
After quitting school to dedicate herself to music full time, Georgas began regularly performing live in small clubs. Then, in 2008, she won Music BC's song writing competition for her track, "The Beat Stuff". After releasing an EP of the same name, she toured Canada, and parts of the U. S. She wanted people to hear her sound. The hard has work paid off.
Her big break came in a near-empty New York bar, where Georgas' catchy acoustics and syrup-smooth vocals caught the attention of a media executive. He asked her to write a jingle for retail giant Wal-Mart. The rest is history. Thanks to the commercial, Georgas could be heard serenading students back to school this fall with her comforting lines: "Don't feel alone/ You've got a place called home". The mellow tune played for eight weeks in living rooms across North America, giving the musician well deserved mass exposure.
On the back of her EP release, and an upcoming split 7" vinyl previewing two songs from her next full-length album (set for released next March), she embarked on a second national tour.
Now mid-way through, and prepping for a show in Ottawa on Oct. 15, Georgas spoke with (Cult)ure about the infamous jingle, why she loves touring, and the tragedy that compels her to donate proceeds from her iTunes sales to juvenile diabetes.
What is the biggest influence on your song writing?
The thing that inspires me is just listening to music. I draw from everyday life, personal experiences. Ever since I was little, I've been exposed to music. I've been playing piano since I was five, and when I was a child my dad was very musical. He played old-school boogy-woogy songs on the piano. He would sing along to songs, but it was more about the piano for him. I was five or six when my mum put me into piano lessons, and I went from there. Now I play piano and guitar, and sing.
You have quite a hectic tour schedule with only seven days off this month. How do keep from losing focus and maintain your quality of performance?
I've already done one cross Canada tour with Jeremy Fisher. This is my second tour and I've learned that the most important thing to do is to take your vitamins, drink lots of water, and try to get as much sleep as you can - even though this can be very hard! You need to take care of your body. So far it's working. I'm touring in a van with seven other people and already two are sick, so I'm trying to keep my distance (laughs).
You're playing a mix of solo and band-backed shows. What can fans expect from your performances?
I play with a band for most of the tour. I have the Said the Whale rhythm section backing me up, which is great. I get to rock out with my band, but it's also intimate as well. I'm playing solo for four of the shows. I would say those are really intimate shows. Both performances have their ups. I really like to play with the band because the songs come to life even more. Playing solo is such a cool experience as well because you can get personal with the crowd. You see more of yourself, and can dig into the songs more. With the band, you get to have a little bit more fun.
You recently played Pop Montreal. How was it playing in a festival with such a massive line-up?"I've grown a lot in the last year with my music and writing."
It was great. I played the two nights before Pop in Edmonton, and the very morning of the show I had to fly out, and rush to get to the venue. It was my first show playing with Said the Whale, so that was cool. The venue was neat. It was in this loft nowhere near any of the other venues, and hard to find. I shared the bill with another band called The Daredevil Christopher Wright, who are amazing, and it was an honour to share the same stage and venue with those guys; they were rad. I wasn't able to stick around to hear any other acts, because I had to leave to play another show, but it was a great experience for me.
Tell me about the process of recording your next album.
I started recording in April, and I listened to the last mix yesterday. It's going to be mastered on October 9. I got to work with some pretty amazing people. My producer, Ryan Guldemond, plays in a band called Mother Mother. It's exciting. I'm releasing the full length album in March, and two songs off the record have already been released on iTunes.
I'm also releasing a vinyl with Mark Watrous. He's sharing a 7"with me, and we each get two songs. The vinyl was a cool idea that my manager thought up. Mark and I had met in New York back in June, and I just thought it was great to be able to do something like this. It's exciting to put your music on vinyl.
Can we expect a different sound to your previous releases?
I think I've grown a lot in the last year with my music and writing. You can expect a lot more. I had a bigger budget. The album is edgier. There has been a lot more time put into making the record. I had a couple of months, rather than the couple of weeks I had to make my EP, so it's a lot more in-depth.
Your lyrics can be quite strong, for example, "I guess it's easy to get over an asshole," in "Mama's Boy". Where do you draw inspiration for songs like that?
It's from personal experience (laughs). I draw my inspirations from my life, and things that happen to me. All of the songs for my new record are really new. I was born in Ontario, and I moved out to B.C. five years ago. I went to school there for a couple of years. I've always been passionate about music, but had put it on the sidelines for so long, without fully diving into it. I kept on making excuses not to go out on my own. I was in Victoria doing school and finally I just made the decision to not go to anymore, forget everything else, and throw myself into music. I moved to Vancouver two years ago and the EP came about from me just writing a bunch of songs about relocation. All of these songs have been inspired by my life in the last couple of years and reflecting back on how I've been growing.
The proceeds from your vinyl release are going to juvenile diabetes. What was behind that decision?
It's a cause close to my heart. My Dad just passed away from diabetes a couple of months ago and I wanted to donate money to a cause that I could relate to - a cause that affected my life.
One of your more well-known songs is the Wal-Mart jingle. What is it like knowing your music plays in living rooms across North America? Is this something you saw yourself doing when you started writing music?
I think it's great. It's a way for people to hear my music and be exposed to my work. The Wal-Mart commercial is a great way for me to get listeners. It was a really exiting thing to have happen and it's crazy that there is not much to the song, but people were excited about the voice and wanted find my music.
Maybe I didn't see myself working with Wal-Mart (laughs), but I did see myself doing something like this. I've always wanted to get my music out there. I find artists through movies and TV shows and I'll think, "Man, I want my music out there on movies, so people can find it too."
Georgas plays Live Lounge Thursday, October 15.
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