10 Questions With… A series that delves into the musical careers of some of our favourite artists, local and afar. With a particular focus on our Melodic Distraction friends and wider community, this lil natter gives us an insight into their musical escapades when they’re in their studio, not ours.
This week, we're sitting down with Hank B to chat about music creation, Liverpool music and favourite records! Hank B is a singer songwriter hailing from the Northeast of England and has become a familiar face in the Liverpool scene over the last seven years. Following a jam packed 2022, we sit down with Hank to find out what they’ve learnt about the industry, what it takes to produce their distorted yet sincere sound and what’s on the horizon for 2023.
Hey Hank! Could you tell us where the name Hank B came from?
Hank B bizarrely originated from my email address, my first name is Hannah, my middle name is Kate, and my last name is Brown, so my email address started with HanKBee. Further down the line, I had just gotten out of a band project that was fizzling out and wanted to focus on my solo stuff and thought screw it, I’ll call myself Hank B! Since then, it’s picked up some extra connotations. I’m quite androgenous in the way I present myself, so I think it’s quite funny that, you know, back in the day there were a lot of white male country singers called Hank and I guess my music’s foundations lie within country/folk music. But I’ve had it quite a lot where people have seen my name on the bill and assume I’m a man, and 24-year-old me with a pink mullet walks on stage!
What do you hope your listeners get from seeing Hank B live?
I want it to be receptive, a lot of my songs are hard-hitting emotionally so when I’m performing, I want them to feel that. Though I’m writing about my own life events I want them to somehow relate it organically to themselves. Which is why I never explain the meaning behind my songs, I want people to create their own attachment to it rather than tell them where it came from or make it too obvious through the lyrics. Feeling understood by the misunderstood is what I hope for them to feel.
What has being an artist in this day and age taught you about the music industry?
Ultimately being a woman and being queer, you have to fight a little bit harder. I wouldn’t choose another time to be a musician as it is getting better but what I have been made acutely aware of is that there is still a shockingly low percentage of women working in the industry. And with the feeling that the industry works for itself rather than the artists, it seems like those archaic ways of working aren’t going to budge. Though it can be disheartening, I can see changes from the inside and artists are becoming more self-sufficient these days and gaining more and more autonomy over their work than ever.
What influences, musical or not, are inspiring your current process?
I’m reading a lot at the moment as I’m trying to write more than play at the moment. From writing poetry to prose, literature is my strongest influence for my creative process right now. The one that sticks out is ‘Upstreams’ by Mary Oliver, it’s a collection of essays that cover points on creativity and the artists commitment to a life of creativity.
What have been your most spun records as of recent?
Nilüfer Yanya’s first record Heavy Weight Champion of the Year and Arthur Russel’s album Love Is Overtaking Me.
Can you talk me through your gear and how it helps to create your overarching sound?
I think sonically it’s all quite basic, but this question does make me think that I need to spend some more time crafting that sound. I’m at the point now where I have the songs and I kinda know what I want it to sound like, I don’t know if you ever do find ‘the sound’ as you can always look back a music once it’s written and released and think, ‘I could’ve done that differently’ but you gotta finish it at some point and give it to the world. A lot of my music is acoustic, but it also can be defined by loud random points of overdriven mess, a step towards experimentation and exploration seems exciting to me. I’m trying to learn the violin, picking piano back up, and dabbling in drums so that I can be more of a multi-instrumentalist to try to and get closer to what I can hear in my head.
What song do you wish you’d written?
One For the Catholic Girls by Simon Joyner, it’s one of the simplest songs I’ve ever heard, it’s repetitive yet never gets old. There’s nothing fake about it, it makes you feel that sinking feeling and you find yourself relating it to everything you’ve been through and that’s what it’s about for me, making you feel something you didn’t expect in its simplest form.
Which venue can we find you next?
I have no gigs planned as of yet as I would like to focus more on writing and getting back in the studio. Plus, I’m teaching music to kids at the minute and it’s highlighting the importance of just creating something that feels good. I’d like to pull from this teaching experience and place it into whatever comes next so I can bring something authentic to the next time I play live, wherever that may be.
Given that, what would you consider your ideal movements for 2023?
For 2023, I want to make a point of self-reflection, and as a biproduct of that I’d hope that the music will follow. I would like to be more purposeful and less sporadic when it comes to writing and recording, and ultimately try to create something with intention. So, my goal is to have something worthwhile released by the end of the year.
How has Liverpool influenced your progression as an artist?
The big difference between home and here is the diversity of creation that’s available. Home is a really small town called Morpeth where not much happens, so moving here seven years ago has exposed me to whole host of creative experiences. I was able to hang out and play in bands for the first time and create a network that ultimately became the building blocks for Hank B to evolve and progress towards to the present where I feel like I’m writing my best stuff.
Find out more about Hank B and any upcoming gigs on their Instagram HERE
|| HANK B ||