Toronto’s Hannah Georgas dives into the depths of ‘All That Emotion’ in a conversation about her musical growth, holding true to herself, producer Aaron Dessner’s influence, and the inspirations behind her beautiful, stirring new album.
Stream: “That Emotion” – Hannah Georgas
From the moment we heard “That Emotion” just six months ago, it was clear that Hannah Georgas was up to something special. Described by Atwood Magazine writer Erica Garcia as “an open, honest, and unforgettable song full of vulnerability and heart,” the lead single off Georgas’ fourth full-length album tapped into powerful depths as the artist shed all pretense and let her feelings flow naturally and true.
“Writing music has always felt like a clear way to communicate how I feel,” Georgas explains. “It sounds typical, but it’s a form of therapy for me.”
In recognizing the importance of expressing oneself – of letting things out, rather than keeping them hidden or bottle them up inside – Georgas laid a powerful foundation for her new record: One that is expressive and raw, driven by musical ambience, lyrical warmth, and intense feelings. An intimate and tender upheaval, All That Emotion is a hauntingly gorgeous folktronic seduction: One that engulfs the senses, offering a safe space for all to dwell in our darkest crevices, and hopefully find a little light shining through.
Play it till I kill
Just to get it in my head
I want to know the secret
Where you been hiding?
Yeah, ’cause I’m trying
Oh, the road you know
Seems like you’re going it alone
And you keep tripping over stones
Hide behind all that emotion
See how long, how far you can keep going
– “That Emotion,” Hannah Georgas
Released on September 4, 2020 via Arts & Crafts / Brassland, All That Emotion is the stirring fourth full-length effort from Toronto singer/songwriter Hannah Georgas. Since debuting with The Beat Stuff EP in 2008, Georgas has steadily grown from a talented folk-pop songstress into a masterful, finessed aural architect. 2016’s For Evelyn (a worthwhile listen in its own right) garnered her significant attention, helping to set in motion the events that would eventually find her working with The National’s Aaron Dessner at his studio in upstate New York. The result is Georgas’ most spacious work to date – a sweeping record that embraces the in-between, inviting stillness and movement to coalesce in the moment.
It’s nice to create space and moments for things to breathe. It keeps things fresh… and interesting.
Singles like “Dreams,” “Same Mistakes,” and “Easy” accentuate this exciting sonic ethos, with Georgas’ golden vocals melting over an organic marriage of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. Meanwhile, her poetic lyrics unveil a journey of renewal and self-discovery as the artist exposes herself with dramatic grace. Even her most turbulent moments come off as majestic in the end: Deeper cuts like the effervescent “Punching Bag” and “Change,” and the bittersweet “Cruel” showcase the artist’s commitment to creating an experience that transcends mere catchy licks and melodies, to become an immersive and singular catharsis for all.
I walked by your favorite place
In a drunken state
Wanting to shout your name
Wanting to wash away
I thought I had a million things to say
I woke up and I can’t think of a thing
I swear I had a million things to say
I woke up and I can’t think of anything
Is it really that easy?
Is it really that easy?
– “Easy,” Hannah Georgas
All That Emotion is not a record for the light of heart; it is a heavy listen, but one that is sure to light a spark in all who take a chance on it.
This is Hannah Georgas at her most visceral; an absorptive, lush forty-minute escape from reality soars through realms of reflection and wonder. It’s a daydream with its feet planted on the ground; a gorgeous, uninhibited release from those invisible societal chains that so effortlessly hold us back, keeping us from exposing how we really feel or what’s really going on deep down inside.
Hannah Georgas dove into the depths of All That Emotion with Atwood Magazine, exploring her musical growth, Aaron Dessner’s influence, and the inspirations behind her beautiful new album.
I think these days I subconsciously listen to music to destress; I hope my music has that same effect on others.
Stream: ‘All That Emotion’ – Hannah Georgas
A CONVERSATION WITH HANNAH GEORGAS
Atwood Magazine: Hannah, I know this album is a long time in the making. Can you share a little about the story behind All That Emotion?
Hannah Georgas: Towards the end of 2017 I was trying to make a continuous effort to plug away on writing everyday. That process continued up until April of 2018 where I had the opportunity to record with Aaron Dessner at his studio in Upstate New York. I had 20 songs or so and we narrowed them down to the ones that are on the album. Our recording process continued on and off until early 2019. I know what I was writing about had a lot to do with what was going on with me in 2017. I was going through a lot of changes in my work and personal life. I was reflecting on my past relationships and unpacking why I do the things I do and feel the way I feel. It’s a lot about giving yourself time to digest major changes and wrapping your head around the obstacles that feel challenging. Understanding that later down the road, the challenging moments that felt so tough will help you grow and learn more about yourself.
You are over a decade into your recording career. What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned over this time?
Hannah Georgas: I think I’ve learned that it’s important to trust the process, and that time can be a good thing. I’ve also learned how important it is to put together a team that you trust and that understands what you’re about. Above all else it’s important to believe in yourself.
Is there anything you know now, that you wish you had known starting out in the early aughts?
Hannah Georgas: It’s ok to say no sometimes. I have a hard time saying no to things but at the end of the day you have to make the decisions that feel right for you.
I listen to The Beat Stuff, then This Is Good on up to All That Emotion, and you can really hear a transformation over time. How do you feel you've grown as a musician and artist over that time?
Hannah Georgas: I think I’ve progressed a lot as an artist. I feel like I was a little baby when I made my first EP. I feel funny sometimes when I listen to my older songs. It’s kinda like looking at an old photo of yourself. It’s like aww that’s nice but what was I wearing? I’ve always been pretty happy with my songwriting though. I think I’m maturing as an artist. I still hope to continue to refine, grow, progress and not be afraid to try new things.
Could you have made All That Emotion all those years ago? What had to happen for you, in order for this album to come to life?
Hannah Georgas: I’m not sure.. maybe but maybe not. I’m someone who believes that things happen the way they do for good reasons. I was in a really different place ten years ago then I am now so probably not I guess. My writing has a lot to do with what I’m feeling at the time so I guess this wouldn’t have happened back then.
Could you describe this record in three words?
Hannah Georgas: I’m so bad at this… introspective, relatable, and lush.
What is the significance of the title All That Emotion, and how does that relate at all to the music?
Hannah Georgas: Writing music has always felt like a clear way to communicate how I feel. It sounds typical, but it’s a form of therapy for me. The first track off the album, “That Emotion,” helped me find that title. That song is about bottling up emotions and going on like everything is ok. I liked the phrase all that emotion within the context of that song. It can feel tricky to work through emotions sometimes, and writing music can help me out with that. It seemed fitting to call the album that, and to be honest I couldn’t think of anything else!
One thing I absolutely love about this album is how it feels so singular in nature; as if all the songs, like puzzle pieces, fit just right. How do you feel this record captures your artistry?
Hannah Georgas: Well that’s nice to hear. I just feel proud of the songs. I listen back and I like what I hear. I’m happy that I got to work with Aaron and Jon [Low], and I feel like everything sounds cohesive.
You have a very distinctive blend of folk, electronic, and pop in your music. Who are some of your greatest influences, especially when it comes specifically to making music?
Hannah Georgas: I listen to those genres a lot. I grew up listening to a lot of ’90s hip hop and R&B. I also loved and still love listening to ’80s synth music and bands like Joy Division and The Cure. I discovered all of these amazing female singer songwriters in my adolescence that really shaped my songwriting. I was listening to The Cranberries, Fionna Apple, Frente, Annie Lennox and more. To me, all of these artists felt like they didn’t really give a shit in a great way and didn’t think twice about other people’s opinions. They just expressed themselves freely and didn’t hide behind anything. I admired that. It felt really encouraging and comforting when I was growing up.
How do you personally define your “sound”? How do you describe it, say, to parents or grandparents?
Hannah Georgas: I would say it sounds like singer songwriter-y, pop, alternative music. The instrumentation has electronic elements and still has an organic feel, and then my mom would say something like.. huh?
What was your vision going into All That Emotion, and did that change over the recording process?
Hannah Georgas: I wanted to try new ways to approach my writing process. Just switch it up a little and find new pathways to write a song. I had approached my last two albums the same way and so I tried to make an effort to challenge myself and do something different. I really wanted to work with Aaron and have his input too.
How did you and Aaron Dessner come to work together, and how did working with him affect the recording – where do you feel you can hear his touch in this record?
Hannah Georgas: I reached out to Aaron back in 2015 because I love his work. We connected over email and I started sending him demos. Our back and forth over email continued up until 2018 when we found time to get together at his studio in Upstate New York to work on the songs.
Aaron has a way of making everything sound warm and lush. He also has a way of creating space for everything, too, which I admire and I’m drawn to when listening to music. He’s super innovative and has great ideas. He’s an incredible musician and writes such cool guitar lines. When we were tracking Same Mistakes he was playing these beautiful guitar lines over my repetitive piano part and it just sounds so good.
Aaron [Dessner] has a way of making everything sound warm and lush. He also has a way of creating space for everything, too…
You start with the burning stunner “That Emotion.” I believe in the importance of opening tracks, and I'd love to know: Why open the album in this way?
Hannah Georgas: I actually had a tricky time figuring out what should start the album. It didn’t feel like any of the others could introduce the album so that’s truly how I figured it out. Process of elimination! I’m kinda terrible at ordering songs and also titling songs. I eventually get there, but I never seem to have an easy time with it.
One of the big things I hear throughout this record is space – in tracks like “Pray It Away,” “Easy,” and so many more, you really let the music speak for itself and dwell in sound. Can you talk about the experience of letting go and having your instruments speak for themselves?
Hannah Georgas: I’m not sure. It’s nice to create space and moments for things to breathe. It keeps things fresh, I think, and interesting.
What are your personal favorite moments on the album? What have you been most excited for your fans and listeners to hear, when the full record is out?
Hannah Georgas: Some highlights for me are: Same Mistakes, Easy, and Someone I Don’t know. We had a couple of different versions for Same Mistakes before we made it to the final one and when we figured it out it just felt right. I’ve always liked Easy. Whenever I listen to it, it seems to take me back to that place where I was when I initially wrote it which is nice.
Listening back with fresh ears, what are you most proud of (or impressed) about this album?
Hannah Georgas: I listened to it recently on a drive and it felt refreshing to listen to. I don’t always feel that way, so I think that’s a good sign. I’m proud of how the songs sound and I’m proud of the writing. I feel like I put my best foot forward.
Finally, what do you hope others take away from this album?
Hannah Georgas: I think life has thrown us all some curve balls this year, and so I hope that my album can provide people with some comfort when they listen to it. I think these days I subconsciously listen to music to destress. I hope my music has that same effect on others.
Who else are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?
Hannah Georgas: I was watching a show called Insecure that helped me find some really great music and specifically an artist named Cautious Clay. He has a song called Cold War that’s so good. Other artists I highly recommend are: This is The Kit, CCFX, Peaches, The Blow and Bartees Strange.
— — — —
? © Vanessa Heins
:: Stream Hannah Georgas ::