Chatting With Hannah Ellis : Her Debut Album, Upcoming C2C Performances and More!

Helen PocockInterviewsLeave a Comment


Having released her highly anticipated debut album “That Girl“ via Curb Records last month (read our review here https://country ) and poised to make a welcome return to London to play C2C, it was a very excited Hannah Elliswho joined me via Zoom from her Nashville home. She really was a delight to chat to, obviously focusing on the aforementioned events,  and I hope you enjoy our conversation! 

LH I really appreciate your time today, Hannah, and must start by congratulating you on your recently released debut album. Your tale is one of hard work and tenacity which has already led to a lot of success,  but is it safe for me to assume that having your own album out in the world was something you were dreaming about when you relocated to Nashville from Kentucky? 

HE Absolutely! And you know when something that you hope will happen actually does ….. the word I keep using is that it’s a sense of contentment. Like all the hard work came to fruition, you have a body of work, a tangible thing, to say “hey this is mine!”. It’s really incredible. 

LH I was looking at the co-writers across the tracks, they really are a “who’s who“ of the finest in the business. Did you find the creative community supportive and welcoming from the moment you arrived in Nashville?

HE Oh yes! Nashville is a transplant city, 90% of the people who live here aren’t from here … my husband is but he’s a unicorn! The community are extremely welcoming, they want to help you if you meet anyone and let them know “hey I’m new to town”. I do the same thing now …. let them know the places to go, people to meet, just to start getting involved. 

LH I love that you remember how it was to be new yourself and are helping others in the same position.

LH I’ve just mentioned that you’ve written with so many amazing people but is anyone still on that co-writing bucket list of yours?

HE Yeah, I’d definitely say Shane McAnally and Ashley Gorely , both icons! But I’ve really got to check a lot of those boxes, there’s only a few left. Once you’ve found your “crew“ you kind of live in that land a little, rather than thinking who you want to write with you think “ooh, I loved writing with these people, let’s do more of that!”. 

LH And one of that crew is your husband ( Nick Wayne ) I see! 

HE Yes we really do have so much fun on a write together. 

LH In my review of the album I mentioned how many of the songs, although seemingly written from a personal perspective, are also highly relatable. Is this something that’s been reflected in the feedback you’ve been receiving from fans? 

HE Oh yes. You know something I really love is when I post a video of a song and in the comments section people are telling me their stories. Whether it’s “oh my husband and I dated for seven years” or “I’m going through a breakup really similar” . When you get more personal, it becomes more personal for everybody else as well. You think that it’s just your experience, but so many experiences most of us have gone through. 

LH Are any tracks in particular which are resonating?

HE It’s kind of funny ‘cos I feel that week to week that shifts! But definitely “Karma On The Rocks “ which is such a fun song. Then on the flip side there’s “That Girl “ and “Too Much and Not Enough“ which is me saying “this is who I am, this is how I am”, much more personal. A lot of people are relating to that and saying “ thank you for saying what I didn’t know how to put words to”. It’s incredible.

LH That leads nicely onto my next question which is about the variety throughout the tracks, which acts not only to demonstrate your versatility as an artist but also to introduce the different sides of you as a person. Was that something you consciously set out to do when selecting the songs?

HE Absolutely . You know the title track is “That Girl“ and tho it could technically be classed as a break up song it’s about saying “you are going to get exactly what you see. I am who I am whether I want to be or not“. And what I try to do is really pull that apart through each song …. yes, I can be fun and the life of the party, but I can also be insecure, and I go through breakups just like everyone else. I was very diligent in writing and choosing songs to tell that story. All of us go through different emotions and live that out in our own unique way. With me saying “hey here’s how I do it“ others can say “here’s my side of that story“.

LH So all the songs were written with this album in mind? You squirreled them away so to speak? 

HE Definitely! I write songs every day, so my publisher and I have to decide whether each one is for pitch or for me. Every once in a while I’ll say “you can pitch it but I still like it” …. and if God sees fit for someone else to cut it then it wasn’t meant for me. 

LH So what’s the oldest song in the album that you’d been sitting on?

HE (after thinking hard) Probably “Home And A Hometown” . It was such a poignant song in crafting where my artistry was going. 

LH And the variety is also echoed in the arrangements, each so well tailored to the particular song. How does that work for you, do you tend to know how you want a studio version of a song to sound as it’s being written, or do things happen more organically? 

HE I’d say it varies. There there were some I was very sure about, like “Too Much And Not Enough“ I had a lot of opinions on that and knew what I wanted it to do. I wanted it to get bigger and smaller, bigger and smaller, and to end on the music. Then others, like “Karma On The Rocks”, I couldn’t hear and my producer stepped in and we sat down together with the musicians in the room that day to see what we all came up with. So each one is different … like each part of me, right? 

LH. And I can’t interview you without a mention of the brilliant video to accompany “Wine Country” …. was it as fun to make as it looks? How much wine did you ladies actually get through?

HE It was the most fun to make! An absolute blast, I can’t even tell you how much fun we had with that one! What was funny is we kept joking all day because I couldn’t drink early in the day because my teeth would have turned! So they had been drinking all day and I was like “this is a bit depressing because I could have been drinking since 8am!“. I waited til later in the day when we only had a couple of scenes left. 

LH How much input do you have when making the videos, and is it a part of the creative process you enjoy? I guess it’s one of the newer elements for you ….

HE Yes….but it’s so much fun! And my input varies, with some I have a vision and that’s it, with others it’s banter back and forth with my creative team. I definitely have a lot of input but I also have a great team who trust me but are extremely talented in their own right and come up with their ideas. I’m a collaborator at heart so I love having a team like that. 

LH And then there’s the merch side of things to sort out too isn’t there? I love how you’ve worked the lyrics to some of the songs into things, I really want one of those “Favourite Sweaters”! Especially today when it’s so cold here. 

HE They literally are so good! Again, we sat around as a little creative team and asked “ok, what merch would you buy even if you didn’t know me?”. If you just saw it and thought “that looks really cool”. That was what we wanted to start with and that’s where the favourite sweater and the “my feelings“ t-shirt came from. We started playing and wanted to see what people gravitate towards. 

LH Well I think it worked really well as I love all of it! Will you be bringing any over here when you come for C2C

HE We won’t be able to just because of how much we’re travelling. Berlin, Cologne, Munich, then fly over to the U.K … we’d have to pay so much extra to have the merch and it is online ….

LH Yep but the shipping is so costly …. but obviously I understand your reasons

LH So, let’s focus on your return to play C2C in London.  You were here for last year’s festival too of course, what can you remember about that visit that makes you excited (or not!) to be back? 

HE Well I will be prepared this time! I did not realise that even though the stages are covered they are not really indoors! That was a learning curve for me …. but this time there’ll be no mini skirts! I was performing in my coat! But it was amazing, I loved the fans. One of my favourite things I did was when I played the Bluebird show, it was an incredible experience, everyone was crazy engaged just gobbling up the stories we were telling and I love that. And when it comes to London in general, I love the Greenwich and Cutty Sark area and I just cannot wait to go back there, it was an area I hadn’t been to before and I’m obsessed with it! 

LH Yes it was particularly cold on the first day last year I remember! We are very excited to have you back. Will it be you and Nick playing acoustically again?

HE Yup! 

LH Do you have a favourite song from the album to play in that format?

HE Umm, I’m excited to debut “Too Much And Not Enough“ for sure because UK fans listen and are so engaged I feel they’ll love that. And there are other songs from the record I didn’t play last time so I’m just excited to play them too.

LH And are there any plans to come back for a full band tour? 

HE Not currently but there’s definitely stuff we are working on and when I can find time I’d love to come back to the U.K. 

LH Great! You’ll always be welcome!

LH And finally, how is the rest of 2024 shaping up for you? 

HE A lot of shows, a lot of festivals! We just want to get out there and play the record for everyone. I’m working on a “That Girl Tour” so we can really play it down the way I hear it in my head. 

LH And I take it you’ll still be writing like crazy too….maybe for your next album? 

HE That’s right! 

LH Brilliant to hear! Well have a fantastic time here and in Germany, safe travels and it’s been a pleasure speaking to you

LH Thanks Girl! We’ll have such fun. 

Catch Hannah’s C2C sets in London on Friday ( Icon Stage) and Saturday ( The Observatory and The Wayside), timings tbc. 

Stream/Download “ That Girl” here

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