A new single ‘It Could’ve Been You’ by self-taught musician and songwriter Hannah Grae, revives and spruces up the classic 2000’s pop-punk glamour while overcoming her fear of writing about relationships.
Perfecting her craft during lockdown, Hannah Grae went through relocations, lack of inspiration, writing blocks, and the lonely blues. Captured on her previous single ‘Screw Loose,’ Grae gripped onto her frustrations, which tap into the inevitable in-between life stages.
‘Screw Loose’ and the new release ‘It Could’ve Been You,’ launch a new era for Hannah Grae, and it’s giving punk princess energy; fluent in captivating audiences and narrating experiences from the rawest point of view.
In April, Grae dropped her debut EP ‘Hell Is A Teenage Girl’ that powered her Summer festival lineup of 2000Trees Festival, Brighton’s The Great Escape, Neighbourhood Weekender, Liverpool Sound City, Focus Wales, Standon Calling Festival, Paris’ Rock En Seine, Budapest’s Sziget Festival, Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival, Belgium’s Pukkelpop Festival, Reading & Leeds Festival, and All Points East to name a few!
With Rolling Stone UK naming her as an artist to watch and NME listing her as one of 100 essential emerging artists for 2023, Hannah Grae is not short of earned praise. For a future manifestation, she hopes for a world arena tour.
Could you start and sharing the inspiration behind your new single ‘It Could’ve Been You’?
I wrote ‘It Could’ve Been You’ a while after the breakup. Before that, I found it pretty difficult to write about romantic relationships. I think this concept was a new sense of vulnerability that I wasn’t ready to unlock. I thought for a while about the ways in which I could write about this specific relationship and the phrase ‘what could have been’ kept recurring. I was so thankful and grateful that the relationship had ended, and there were no real hard feelings towards the other person. This is one of the only songs on my second body of work that I’d say is a happy, hopeful and all around positive song. The others are laced with a sense of doom even if they sound happier, which is my comfort when writing. So, ‘It Could’ve Been You’ (conceptually) is completely out of my comfort zone. I wanted it to be upbeat, funny, sarcastic and confident in what it is.
When writing, we referenced Bowling for Soup, Green Day, Paramore, American Hi-Fi, and Avril Lavigne as well as classic 2000s movies such as Mean Girls and Shrek. We played the opening scenes on loop while writing and this helps me get that magical “this is something great” feeling. I’m so proud of this song and how I finally managed to get over my fear of writing about relationships. I hope that people can scream the lyrics, whether it’s at one of my shows or in their car, and be confident in the decision they’ve made for themselves.
You got to perform at some of the biggest, most prominent festivals this summer, which one was your favourite?
My favourite festival… that’s hard. I’ve played a lot, and I played a lot of great ones as well. I think Rock En Seine was definitely a highlight because I’d been so excited for it like all year and then there were people there who knew some of my songs which is always so special and my parents were there as well so that was a fun one!
Who was your favourite live set you’ve ever seen?
That’s hard! I think YUNGBLUD’s up there. He’s just so epic live and so fascinating to watch, especially because I’ve seen him a couple of times now and every show is consistent but also different which I really admire. It’s like every time you go and see him you get a different experience but it’s also consistently great.
Who was your biggest cheerleader when you started pursuing music seriously?
My parents are definitely my biggest cheerleaders! They’ve always been so supportive of my music, passion and have just done anything that they could to make sure I am happy and I’m supported, so I really appreciate them.
What do you think your younger self, the one posting Youtube covers, would say about where you are today?
Oh my god, she would be so happy! I literally dreamed of being in sessions in studios and having writing partners that you kind of bounce off and then having labels and playing live shows… I dreamed about that. I think sometimes I need to remind myself of how far I’ve come and just appreciate and be grateful. I think she wouldn’t believe me… she’d believe me, but it would take a while!
As a self-taught musician, and songwriter, when and how did you use to practice?
My main time of growth I think was in lockdown because I just had so much time. I just spent all day everyday pretty much at the keyboard writing songs. I was posting YouTube videos and TikToks and stuff every single day, at one point three times a day. I was writing songs based on stories that fans would send in and that just made me a much better songwriter, I think. I just practiced in my little shed in the garden, and I loved it. I spent so many hours down there and I’m really grateful that I did that.
Talk us through the evolvement of your sound. How would you describe it?
I think I’ve always been very story-based – that’s stayed consistent. I’ve always wanted to tell a story in my music. I think if we talk about the development from my piano covers to Hell Is A Teenage Girl as an EP, it’s definitely more band-sounding. There’s lots of live instruments – there’s drums, there’s guitars. It just feels bigger and more aligned with what I actually love in music. Then, in terms of Hell Is A Teenage Girl to my second project – because I’d started to play live when I was writing my second project I started to gauge what people enjoyed at a live show and took that into my writing process. I think there are actually less layers, it’s more intentional I’d say. It still has attitude, it’s still bratty, it’s still live music, but a bit more intentional, a bit more raw and honest.
Congratulations on recent single ‘Screw Loose,’ how did this track come about?
I moved to London in January of 2022. So before that, when I wrote Hell Is A Teenage Girl, I was still living in Wales and I was travelling back and forth to London. I moved to London then in January, had a bit of a writing break for about five months and then got in a bit of a slump. I felt like every day was sort of the same, I had no friends really, and I started to lose a bit of hope about music. I guess because when I was travelling back and forth from Wales I still had the ‘moving to London’ step to go, so I had a lot of excitement and hope in that first period. Then, when I finally moved to London I was like “okay, now what?!”. Everything felt a bit at a standstill and when I eventually started writing again, which took almost six months, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to write again. So I had quite the writer’s block. I just sort of wrote about that! I wrote about everyday feeling the same. The sound was inspired by Weezer and Green Day and Paramore, you know the great bands that I love! I’m really proud of how it came out.
When you were going through a hard time, do you remember when it all clicked for you? The moment when you knew you will be alright.
No, I don’t remember! Writing my second project, that was in a tough time and I look back on those songs now and I’m like, “God, how did I write those?” I don’t even remember writing them. I was so distracted by other things going on. I don’t really think it ever clicked, maybe now even. It’s taken this long. I think it just comes in ebbs and flows it’s like you have waves of feeling like it won’t be okay and then you have waves of being like “how did I ever feel like it wouldn’t be okay?!”. So I’m in one of those waves right now and the good thing is to remember that they are waves and they will come and go. Maybe I’ll write a song about it!
You’re inspired by the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift and Paramore. Let’s say they’re working on a record together. Using your imagination, what do you think it would be about and sound like?
Oh my gosh! I would hope that it would be quite like a female-empowering song. I can imagine them using their experience from the industry and stuff. I would love to hear it. It would kind of be along the lines of ‘Nothing New’ by Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers sang on that, and that’s about the industry and sort of fearing being a novelty. But then with the likes of Hayley Williams and Paramore would make it like a more of a “I don’t care I’m a woman and I’m great and I’m powerful”. That would be incredible.
Now that we mentioned these icons, could you please name your favourite song by each of them?
Phoebe Bridgers for sure it’s ‘Motion Sickness’, I love that song. Taylor Swift, oh God. I think ‘All Too Well’ is my all-time favourite Taylor Swift song. Paramore is ‘All I Wanted’, that is literally one of my favourite songs of all time, I love that song. It inspired me so much and every time I listen to it, I still feel the same as when I first listened to it. It’s incredible.
What are you planning for the near future? And where do you see yourself in five years?
In the near future I’m just releasing music that I’m very excited about! It’s my second project and I’m just focusing on that and really just enjoying the moment of each song and give it it’s best shot and give it my full attention.
In five years I’d hope to be doing a stadium world tour! Haha. With like, every single person, however many, just singing every lyric to my songs. That would be so special. That’s what I want in five years.