“I want kids who grew up like me to see that you can make music”: An Interview with Hannah Jadagu

Hannah Jadagu © Axel Kabundji
Hannah Jadagu © Axel Kabundji
Atwood artist-to-watch Hannah Jadagu reflects on her intimate, achingly raw two-year-old EP as she now readies to release her boldly impassioned debut album, ‘Aperture’!
Stream: “What You Did” – Hannah Jadagu

As achingly raw and radiant as ever, Hannah Jadagu has her fingers on the pulse of the moment – and she’s ready to make 2023 her year.

The Texan-born, New York based singer/songwriter (and Atwood Magazine 2023 Artist-to-Watch) laid a strong set of foundations with 2021’s debut EP What Is Going On?, an intimate and ethereal five-track collection recorded entirely on her iPhone. Simple, subtle, and stunning, the 18-year-old NYU student emerged with a voice of gold and the songwriting skills to match, candidly sharing her perspective and experiences as a young Black woman in America.

What Is Going On? - Hannah Jadagu
What Is Going On? – Hannah Jadagu

The past two years have seen her grow in leaps and bounds, and now Jadagu is ready to shine brighter and bolder than ever. Searing guitars rage and drums pulse a heavy beat as “What You Did,” her first song of the year, gets underway, hitting hard and cutting deep as  she reckons with a relationship’s dirty destruction. “Why try to be the one that you can fall on? That night I lied, I hate it when you sing!” she sings at the start, addressing someone we can only assume to be her now-ex. “… I don’t want to talk to you again.” The crushing lead single off Jadagu’s forthcoming debut album Aperture (out May 19) signals a new era for her artistry; she’s emerged with a tender and turbulent indie rock charm that continues to cut as deep as ever.

Sometimes, it helps to let it all out in a furious flurry of feverish sound – and that’s exactly what Jadagu does on “What You Did,” building emotional and sonic tension and spilling it in a heavy, hearty furor. Her words ache as electric guitars tremble and quake alongside her; the product of pain, “What You Did” taps a nerve, leaving listeners exhilarated and exhausted in three minutes flat. With this resounding expression of intimate emotion, Jadagu sets the scene for what promises to be a cinematic, must-listen debut.

Hannah Jadagu © Ebru Yildiz
Hannah Jadagu © Ebru Yildiz

She’s already a far cry from the lo-fi innocence of What Is Going On?, and yet that foundational EP still resonates as the enchanting, cathartic introduction it is and was.

Atwood Magazine recently rediscovered a previously-lost interview with Hannah Jadagu from 2021, and today we’re proud to (finally) publish that conversation – one that captures the artist already moving past the starting line, ready to embark on the adventure that would ultimately lead to her forthcoming LP, Aperture.

What Is Going On? will always be special to me,” Jadagu shared with us at the time. “It represents my first project, and it’s full of my thoughts and emotions during my own personal experiences, and also what was happening in the world. It truly is like seeing through my exterior, and getting to know me over the past few years, in just a matter of 30 minutes.”

Turn the clocks back two years with us and reconnect with the gentle glow of What Is Going On? in our interview below, and stay tuned for Aperture‘s upcoming release: Hannah Jadagu’s debut album is out May 19 via Sub Pop Records!

— —

:: stream/purchase Hannah Jadagu here ::
Stream: ‘What Is Going On?’ – Hannah Jadagu

Hannah Jadagu © Axel Kabundji
Hannah Jadagu © Axel Kabundji


Hannah Jadagu - What Is Going On?

Atwood Magazine: Hannah, this EP is a very long time in the making. Can you share a little about the story behind this record?

Hannah Jadagu: I started making most of these songs while I was still in high school and finished the EP my first semester in college. So, it has been a minute. But the story is just me making songs through a very transitional part of my life where I’m discovering so much about myself, and making it all on my phone using the resources I have. It was a fun process, but I wanted to end the iPhone era with this project.

Could you describe this record in three words?

Hannah Jadagu: Introspective, growing up, and DIY

What was your vision going into this record? Did that change over the course of recording this?

Hannah Jadagu: A lot of these songs were made while I was still an independent artist. So recording them was low stress and mainly for fun… Until I signed. Then I became even more of a perfectionist with the process, but it was still all on an iPhone. The vision was really just to have my music heard and for me to love every song on the record though!

Hannah Jadagu © Axel Kabundji
Hannah Jadagu © Axel Kabundji

Why the title “What Is Going On?”?

Hannah Jadagu: Well… What IS Going On? It’s always something we have to face in life. There’s always questions to be asked and things to learn about yourself and those around you. The title is about introspection but also the broad scope of how you fit in the world and what that means for you.. Ya know?

How do you feel What Is Going On? introduces you and captures your artistry?

Hannah Jadagu: This record is 100% made by me. I wrote, recorded, and produced everything myself. Even mixed it. It showcases how I make music based off of what I like to consume as well.

You debuted in 2020 with the songs “Unending” and “Pollen.” Can you share a bit about these songs and why you chose them as your formal introduction?

Hannah Jadagu: Those songs were the first songs that I made and put on streaming platforms, so definitely an introduction of sorts. I think Unending and Pollen are two songs that contrast in production styles, and work to showcase a bit of range/who I am as an artist. In fact, I remember making “Pollen” the way it sounds just so that people wouldn’t box me in with the sound of “Unending.”

Meanwhile, I fell instantly for “Think Too Much” when it came out. This was also the first song off your EP; why is this song special for you?

Hannah Jadagu: This song is sooo special because it’s just nothing like all my other songs. It’s the one song that I reached out to friends about their own experience with anxiety and what they fear the most. I also tied it all in full circle with a video that shows my friends I’ve made here at school and it’s such a community bop.

Stuck in the past up until I turned 18 (18, 18, 18)
Started thinking I failed, and that I was lazy
(That I was lazy, that I was lazy)
“You’re just getting started, you’re not really that old”
Then why does it feel like there’s no time to grow?
Now I’m searching for words in a place that confines
And it’s scary, rarely, easy to like, but I-
Think too much
It’s all in your head
It’s all in your head
It’s all in your head now
Think too much
It’s all in your head
It’s all in your head
It’s all in your head now

You open the EP with the tender, two-minute intro “My Bones” which flows into the ethereal “Sundown.” How did these songs come about for you?

Hannah Jadagu: When I first wrote the lyrics to “My Bones,” it was around June 2020, and the Black Lives Matter movement had seen a great resurgence and push with social media and the younger generation especially. So the lyrics were based on the experiences of a Black woman in America.

And production wise, I was into indie ambient people like The 1975 and M83, so I think the production was just me exploring that and experimenting with sounds and vocals. Then “Sundown” is the same sort of experimentation with vocals and reverb. I also wrote that a few years ago when I was exploring the process of healing through music.

I really loved your closer, “Bleep Bloop.” Why end the record with this song?

Hannah Jadagu: I also love “Bleep Bloop,” so I’m glad you like it. I ended the record with this one because it literally just felt right. I feel like it brings all my anxieties and thoughts together, and has this acknowledgment yet hint of hope.

I like how the moon don’t wait
Maybe sometimes, it’s just our fate
To be caught up, out of place
Think we all just need a break
They say it’s all about just how you make it
But I’m not feeling that way, no
I’m faking
And when it all comes down, are you taking
The heavy pain of the world that we’re shaking?

As a lyrically forward artist, do you have any favorite lyrics in these songs?

Hannah Jadagu: I definitely feel like I’m still exploring ways to write lyrics, but would absolutely agree that I’m very transparent so my favorite lyric is, “I’m so scared to be 23.”

Do you have any definitive favorites or personal highlights off this record?

Hannah Jadagu: I would have to say that my current favorites are the title track and “bleep bloop”!

What do you hope listeners take away from What Is Going On?? What have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Hannah Jadagu: I want kids who grew up like me to see that you can make music, even if all that’s around you seems limited/points elsewhere! Also want people to connected to my stories.

Lastly, who are you listening to these days, that you would recommend to our readers?

Hannah Jadagu: I’m listening to Miloe, James Ivy, and WILLOW.

— —

:: stream/purchase Hannah Jadagu here ::
Stream: “What You Did” – Hannah Jadagu

— — — —

Aperture - Hannah Jadagu

Connect to Hannah Jadagu on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Axel Kabundji

:: Stream Hannah Jadagu ::

More from Mitch Mosk
Today’s Song: The O’My’s & Alex Banin Capture the Heartache of Letting Go in Soulful “Realistic”
Silky smooth and soulfully stirring, The O'My's' "Realistic" ft. Alex Banin is...
Read More