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How do you write… Lyrics? With Hannah Scott

“You can’t really say she sounds like anyone you’ve ever heard before but somehow you feel like you’ve known these songs all your life.”  This neat soundbite perfectly sums up singer-songwriter Hannah Scott.  I first met Hannah at university, where I was lucky enough to get a preview of some of her early work.

Hannah has been writing music, and lyrics, since her early teens but it was a year spent in Tuscany that inspired her to start performing more seriously. She has self-released an album and two EPs, packed with lyrically intelligent songs and her highly distinctive voice. Last year, Hannah reached the final of MOJO Magazine’s New Voice competition, where panellist and legendary BBC 6 DJ Tom Robinson described her performance as “clear, assured, melodic, memorable”.  She gigs extensively in London and East Anglia, including shows alongside Ed Sheeran and supports with folk favourites Cara Dillon and Seth Lakeman.

Hannah took a break from putting the finishing touches to her new EP, Still Static, to answer some questions about what it’s like to write songs…

AWW: When did you first start writing songs?
HS: When I was about 10! But obviously they weren’t serious – and even the songs I wrote in my teens don’t see the light of day now!

AWW: What was your motivation/inspiration at the time?
HS: I think it was just natural to me to do it. As time went along and I hit my teens, my inspiration became the normal teen problems – unrequited “love”, friendships, school etc. And now it is anything that moves me or impresses me or that I think would make good subject matter for a song.

AWW: Are there any musicians/writers who have inspired you, lyrically?
HS: A lot of people I know say they don’t listen to the lyrics but for me they are paramount and I won’t let a song through if I’m not happy with the words I’ve written. Over the years I have been lyrically inspired by artists like Counting Crows, Alanis Morrisette, John Mayer – right now I’m loving the words of Dry the River.

AWW: What is your song-writing process like? Is it something you can plan for/spur of the moment? Do you tend to start with the lyrics or the music?
HS: A bit of both. I do think if you don’t make yourself sit down and do it, you end up not doing it. But sometimes inspiration just comes and then you sit down because of that inspiration. Sometimes I start with a melody, sometimes a lyric, sometimes an idea for what the song is about and sometimes a title.

AWW: How long does it usually take you from beginning to finishing a song?
HS: Anything from days to months…

AWW: How does the rehearsal process affect your songs – do they ever change once they’re played/performed?
HS: They don’t tend to change massively but I think the more I play with other musicians, the more they are bound to change. And sometimes it’s funny to listen back to a really old recording of a song and realise how different it has become over time, without me even realising!

AWW: Which of your song lyrics would you say you’re most proud of/like the best, and why?
HS: “In praise of chaos, in praise of love lost, to salvage order, to break the deadlock.
In praise of conflict and all we forfeit, rekindle laughter till we’ve restored it.”
The words say exactly what I wanted them to – sometimes we have to go through sh*t with a relationship ending but it had to end and without it we wouldn’t be able to have the better things that are in store – but in a satisfyingly poetic way!

AWW: What are you working on at the moment, and what are your plans for the future?
HS: I’m about to release a new EP which will be followed by an album. My plan for the future is world domination! Just kidding. I plan to keep heading towards being able to make my living from music…

To check out more of Hannah’s work and find out if she’s gigging near you soon, you can visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow on Twitter – @hannahscottuk

Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten