Analogue Music | Hannah Georgas

Hannah Georgas

By Matt Conner

There was plenty of change behind All That Emotion.

To hear Hannah Georgas detail the inspiration behind her new album, it's clear that the acclaimed Canadian artist had a lot to process in her personal life. Given how therapeutic music has proven to be over the years for her, it's no surprise that Georgas channeled her experiences and feelings into a captivating new album.

With Aaron Dessner (The National) at the helm, All That Emotion is an alluring and, at times, arresting listen. The atmosphere draws you in close enough for Georgas to confess lines like, "Hide behind all that emotion / See how long, how far you can keep going."

If you've followed Georgas career at any stage, you'll know why The National asked her to tour with them in the first place. Her captivating catalog has been under-appreciated for far too long. Hopefully this newest release will remedy that problem, as well as everything else she needed to process.

Analogue: So I'm reading the lyrics for one of the new singles "That Emotion" and it strikes me that I'm not sure who you are talking to. You're instructing someone but is this an outsider or self-talk?

Hannah Georgas: It's self-talk. I find for me, writing is often such a therapeutic process. It's just me trying to talk myself out of feeling alone. That song is about letting things build up, emotions build up, and just tucking them away and continuing on your day to day like everything is fine. Then you end up triggered at another time. I deal with that a lot in my life, so yeah, that song is just about me trying to recognize and be honest about those feelings that I have.

Analogue: Is that indicative of the whole album?

Hannah: Yeah it's very personal. It's a very personal album. I was going through a lot of change and reflecting a lot on that. I started writing it toward the end of my last record cycle, at the end of 2017 into 2018. I'd moved from Vancouver, which is where I spent 13 or so years of my life, I'd uprooted and moved back to Toronto as soon as I started touring my last album, so I didn't really settle in until that cycle was over. I'd started to feel and miss things about where I'd left. I was also going through a breakup and was going through things with work, too. Just a lot of changes were happening, so I think that was all reflected in the music I was writing.

'All That Emotion'
'All That Emotion'

Analogue: Have you ever made an album that wasn't centered on some level of change?

Hannah: Um, yeah, I think so. And I guess the whole record isn't about change, necessarily, but I get inspired to write when I feel a need to express or just get something off my chest. I have written about things that aren't about change and things that are positive, things that make me feel empowered. I think it helps me get through life to write stuff about things that I'm always questioning or why I'm doing what I'm doing or how I react to change.

Analogue: How is the songwriting process for you at this point in your career? What's different from when you first started?

Hannah: I've gone through this period of switching gears where I'm trying to write as much as possible. That's been the pattern for me. I'm trying to get a little bit better at paying attention when I'm feeling creative to work on music.

Analogue: What does that mean tangibly?

Hannah: I'm keeping track of it a bit more. I'm making my space more ready for me to go in. I have a studio set-up now. I just recently moved from the city to two hours outside of Toronto and I have a better space to create music now. I'm always writing things down in my phone and having a book close by to be writing and doing things I need to clear my head and go for walks and exercise. Those kinds of things help my brain a lot.

Over the years, I've learned and paid attention to what makes me be a better songwriter, what keeps me going. Those are all really good things. I also try to make sure I keep a voice note of things. I go into my notes and history of things to just double check what I'm up to, recording and jotting things down.

Analogue: Is there a lot that you've lost because those things weren't in place?

Hannah: A bunch. I feel really creative and clear at night and I dream a lot, but I'm really tired at night and don't feel like doing the work, so I've lost a lot there. [Laughs] I'll wake up and think, 'Oh, that's a great idea but I'm so tired. I don't want to get up. I don't wanna do it.' That's where I feel like I kick myself because it's those kinds of things that are really important to pay attention to. Sometimes I just haven't done that, so yeah I feel like I've lost some things. But what can you do? [Laughs]

Analogue: Do you feel more confident musically speaking?

Hannah: I feel I've progressed a lot from where I started. I feel a lot more confident for sure in my songwriting and in my process of demoing and who I'm working with. I feel pretty confident about that. I think it's important to always challenge yourself to try to do better and try to find ways to mix up the process. Sometimes I will gravitate toward a certain instrument. You have these tendencies where you're like, 'This is the way I do it, so this is what I'll try.' I think it's important to mix things up, too.

Analogue: What was that for this album?

Hannah: I've been really enjoying demoing with this synth called the OP-1. Sometimes I'll just be inspired by a sound on that synth and just try to write a song from the sound or I'll try to play a beat and then add chords overtop instead of going to sit down at my piano and playing chords or instead of just playing my guitar. I think that's been a lot of fun and taken me on a different path to finish this off.

Analogue: How'd you find that?

Hannah: I was working with Graham Walsh, who helped me make my self-titled and For Evelyn. He is such a synth expert. [Laughs] He found that synth before it became super popular and everybody loves usign it because it's an awesome writing tool. He was using it a long time ago—all over my self-titled record—so I thought it could be cool for me to get it, too, and play around with it. He opens up a whole other world with that synth and does things I could never do. But I love playing with it, creating loops and playing around with the sounds that are already on it.

Analogue: I know you worked with Aaron Dessner on this album. How was that collaborative chemistry?

Hannah: I originally reached out to Aaron a while back in 2015, because I just am a fan of everything he's produced. I love The National a lot, so I reached out and we started a conversation over email. I was sharing songs with him and he gave input and we started this dialogue. Then we set time aside to work together in 2018 to work on music, and that process was super inspiring. I just admire him a lot as a producer and songwriter and individual. He's very inspiring to be around. I love how he makes things sound lush and there are these intricate details to things that he does, but he allows this space for vocals, for each thing to really be listened to and refined. I'm a fan of this production and really trusted the process when working with him.

VISIT: Hannah Georgas