“Under my skin is where you hide”: Hans Williams on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, His Debut EP, & Folk Music’s Renaissance

Hans Williams © Hank Miller
Hans Williams © Hank Miller
Indie folk singer/songwriter and avid Tim Robinson fan Hans Williams chats with Atwood Magazine about songs new and old, the vulnerability embedded in his debut EP, his latent imposter syndrome, the current folk music renaissance (and the success of fellow Vermonter Noah Kahan), and more!
for fans of Noah Kahan, Caamp, Zach Bryan, Lizzy McAlpine
Stream: “Skin” – Hans Williams




The world needs something that’s incredibly intimate and relatable now, and the popularized folk music we’re familiar with today fits that well.

Hans Williams is processing life one day, and one song, at a time.

Ever since his debut single, the indie folk singer/songwriter has leaned on music as both a creative and emotional outlet, unpacking the issues, conflicts, nuances, and burdens of his present-day through melodies and lyrics that ache from the inside out.

“I write music out of utility,” Williams explains. “Each song has some function in my life, at least the moment I’m writing it. Typically I’m exploring something deeply personal… I struggle to deal with guilt and trauma and imposter syndrome, so songs are the easiest medium to work all of that out.”

Skin - Hans Williams
Skin – Hans Williams

Songwriting is a need, more than it is a want for the Vermont-born, New Orleans-based artist, and for the past six years Williams’ songwriting has offered not only a vivid, clear window into his world, but also a cathartic path forward for all of us dealing with life’s inevitable aches and pains, challenges and troubles.

This holds especially true for the songs off Williams’ upcoming debut EP More Than One Way Home, set to release independently this spring. Written mostly over the last half-year and recorded last summer and fall, the five-track record offers the unabridged, up-close and personal introduction to Williams the world has been patiently waiting for.

“For me, More Than One Way Home is a reminder that I will someday feel the same sense of belonging that I felt in my hometown growing up,” Williams says. “It’s for all the traumatic moments I would rather forget, but hold onto instead.”

Hans Williams © Hank Miller
Hans Williams © Hank Miller



Williams’ emotionally charged lyrics look inward as often as they look outward, and with the fragile melodies he weaves throughout his songs, every word he sings lingers on the air, sending shivers shooting down the spine. This holds especially true for “Skin,” More Than One Way Home‘s lead single (released January 24, 2024).

A gently dramatic upheaval of latent insecurities and inner tension, “Skin” is as much a confession as it is a confrontation – finding Williams facing his self-sabotaging tendencies head-on.

Well, you walk with no insight
Walk with no chance of knowing where you’ll go
But I don’t mind
‘Cause that’s why I’ll take this road
And home chases my blood ’round
It curls up my ears now, with every other smile
Oh, I’ll push my shame down
But we don’t mind
Under my skin, where you hide
Tearing me apart one piece at a time
Walk in the shadow of my own pride

“‘Skin’ talks about all the ways in which I doubt myself on a daily basis,” he tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s a letter to the hypercritical part of myself – a reminder to not take it too seriously. It’s for every time I’ve questioned why I make music and who I make it for. It’s helped me come to terms with my self-perception, and I hope it could do the same for others.”

Under my skin is where you hide, tearing me apart one piece at a time,” Williams sings in the song’s haunting chorus. “Walk in the shadow of my own pride.” It’s a painful, yet beautiful reckoning of the highest order.

Williams has suffered from imposter syndrome all his life. “I think it’s a pretty common experience people have whenever they’ve worked for something and achieved it – there will always be questions of ‘why do I deserve this,'” he adds. “I’ve felt these feelings of inadequacy most recently because I feel like things are going well not just in my career, but also in my life – and the sabotageable part of myself is losing the battle and has to come up with even worse ways to undercut my happiness.”




That imposter syndrome kicked into high gear more recently as his career began to take off. A community outreach campaign helped make Williams’ tender, catchy 2022 song “All Is Well” a veritable hit: To date, it’s racked up over 34 million streams on Spotify alone, and Williams currently boasts a whopping 1.3 million monthly listeners on the streaming platform.

“Honestly, I’m not sure what we did to have that reception,” he admits. “I think the song just resonated with a lot of folks.”

Breathtaking intimacy and brutal honesty have been Hans Williams’ artistic pillars from day one, and the talented singer/songwriter is just getting started. More recent singles like “Willows” and “Georgia Walks,” each one a soul-stirring journey well worth listen, have continued to bring listeners ever-closer to Williams’ humanity, all the while knowing the best is still yet to come: With his debut EP coming soon and his largest headline tour set to begin next month, things truly are looking up for Williams; here’s hoping he can mute his inner detractor for a little while, and celebrate the wins for what they are.

Hans Williams © Justin Hoyos
Hans Williams © Justin Hoyos



All things considered, there has never been a better time to become a Hans Williams fan.

Atwood Magazine caught up with the singer/songwriter to chat about songs new and old, growing up in Vermont (and the success of fellow Vermonter, Noah Kahan, who grew up just a half hour down the road), his artistic inspirations, and his upcoming debut EP.

His fun fact? “I was born on Christmas 2000 during a solar eclipse… I’m not religious, but there’s gotta be something there,” he laughs.

It’s nice knowing someone who writes such heartfelt lyrics has such a lighter side, and our conversation is filled with little one-off jokes, asides, and most of all, laughter. “My whole comedic personality relies on you having watched I Think You Should Leave by Tim Robinson, so I hope some of these references are coming through,” Williams interjects.

Read our full interview below, and prepare to fall for the tenderness, the intimacy, and the raw humanity of Hans Williams.

— —

:: stream/purchase “skin” here ::
:: connect with Hans Williams here ::
Stream: “Skin” – Hans Williams



A CONVERSATION WITH HANS WILLIAMS

Skin - Hans Williams

Atwood Magazine: Hans, it’s great to meet you – and happy new year! Not sure if you subscribe to this kind of thinking, but do you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2024?

Hans Williams: Hey there, thanks for having me! I typically don’t because I don’t have that kind of self-discipline, but this year I’m trying to go on longer runs. They’re brutal but then you finish one and you have all this energy and optimism, so I’m hoping to get back on that.

To the reader who’s just discovering you today, what do you want them to know about who Hans Williams is and what your music is all about?

Hans Williams: I guess the first thing I would say is I write music out of utility. So each song has some function in my life at least the moment I’m writing it. Typically I’m exploring something deeply personal. I used to think that once I released a song I had to let go of it, but I’m starting to realize that once a song is put into the world, it just grows beyond your own interpretation, which is such a beautiful thing.

But because it’s all so deeply personal it’s hard to pinpoint one thing it’s about. I think it’d be self-acceptance. Like a lot of people, I struggle to deal with guilt and trauma and imposter syndrome, so songs are the easiest medium to work all of that shit out.

Beyond that I don’t care too much if folks know about me specifically. One thing I’ll say is I’m an avid Tim Robinson fan. So if you come to a show there’s probably gonna be some awkward Tim Robinson banter going on, if you can put up with that.

I first heard you because of your song “All Is Well,” which has reached 32.5 million streams on Spotify at the time of writing. I understand this is the product of hard work, and not some random TikTok algorithm; do you mind sharing the story behind this song, and what you and your team did to get it to where it is today?

Hans Williams: Yeah, honestly I’m not sure what we did to have that reception. I think the song just resonated with a lot of folks. The one thing that was fun and really positive about that release was we sent about 650 “All Is Well” stickers to 200 people around the country who helped spread the message around. It was a tangible way of getting in touch with our community in the wake of the pandemic, and also just a lot of fun.

I’m sure you’ve beaten it to death but if you’ll indulge me just the one time, what is “All Is Well” about and what does it mean to you?

Hans Williams: Sure thing. “All Is Well” is me checking in on myself maybe a year or so after a traumatic experience I had at the beginning of college. I was a first responder to a suicide in the dorm room next to mine a few days in to freshman year at Tulane. I wrote a song called “Body on My Shoulders” to suss out the guilt I felt around the experience and didn’t really intend on releasing because of how delicate the situation was. But eventually put it out and received so many messages of support and stories that were eerily similar, either from the same point of view or another.

It was the most cathartic period of my life, realizing that I wasn’t alone in my experience. “All Is Well” is me checking in on myself – recognizing that I took a while to share the burden that came with such an awful tragedy. It was a way of spreading that weight around.

Let down all your luck
As it comes and goes away, and
Rest your patience ’cause
It’s a long road to pace yourself until you
Held up watching, come rescue my hide
Help me slowly but don’t bring no sign of hurtin’ out
‘Cause I don’t wanna hear about how I’ve changed
How I’ve changed
If I get overwhelmed
I’m sure you’ll never know
Keep it to myself
All is well
Or else I’m burdensome
The weight that I won’t let you hold
Let you hold



You’ve called your single, “Skin,” your “most vulnerable song to date.” Can you talk about why that’s the case, and what it is about this song that hits so close to home?

Hans Williams: Honestly it’s hard to compare songs and their meanings, but it always happens that the thing you wrote most recently is the most vulnerable because it draws from the freshest feelings. “Skin” talks about all the ways in which I doubt myself on a daily basis. I think sometimes there are two parts of me and one is truly there to sabotage things and the other is an absolute chiller. It’s about the balance between the two and the ways I’ve tried to cope with it.

I’ve felt these feelings of inadequacy most recently because I feel like things are going well not just in my career, but also in my life – and the sabotageable (did not know that was a word but it is – I looked it up) part of myself is losing the battle and has to come up with even worse ways to undercut my happiness.

That’s a really intense way of saying I have imposter syndrome, but I think it’s a pretty common experience people have whenever they’ve worked for something and achieved it – there will always be questions of ‘why do I deserve this.’

Well, you walk with no insight
Walk with no chance of knowing where you’ll go
But I don’t mind
‘Cause that’s why I’ll take this road
And home chases my blood ’round
It curls up my ears now, with every other smile
Oh, I’ll push my shame down
But we don’t mind

You walk with no insight, walk with no chance of knowing where you’re going… but I don’t mind,” you sing at the start of this song. It’s a powerful entrance, and one that instantly has me hooked. What was your experience like writing this song, and why did you choose to open in this way?

Hans Williams: Thank you. Part of myself sometimes knows I don’t have a clue. Even the part I trust, and that’s okay. But these words come from a place of pain and doubt. It’s the sabotageable part of myself questioning my own instinct.

Is this song inspired by true events for you, and do you mind sharing what transpired?

Hans Williams: For sure, I think someday I would love to write with some distance from my own life, but so far songs have always been an outlet and it’s hard for me to detach from that. The specific experiences I’m drawing are from when I’ve found love, success, happiness, and then question why I deserve it.



Under my skin is where you hide, tearing me apart one piece at a time.” Your chorus is incredibly intimate and intense. What’s the significance of this line, for you?

Hans Williams: Thank you. Yeah it comes from the same place of recognizing there’s an alternative ego or personality that festers when you don’t recognize your own self worth.

Under my skin, where you hide
Tearing me apart one piece at a time
Walk in the shadow of my own pride

I quite like how you’ve called this an “imposter syndrome anthem.” What have been your experiences in that realm, and what - if anything - have you done to get yourself over the hump, and feel comfortable in your skin?

Hans Williams: Writing this song and playing it live has honestly been the best way to cope with it. I love performing this one. It makes me feel good in a way that relieves pain.

This song feels like it was cathartic to make. Was it? Did you yourself release something you’d been holding onto, in the process of writing and recording it?

Hans Williams: Haha, we are right on the same page! Yes exactly, this song was a great release of pain and anger and doubt. Like I mentioned before though, it’s always most cathartic when others share their stories so I’m looking forward to meeting people on this upcoming tour and hashing out all our imposter syndrome problems together.

So I’ll wait,
wait for my high to fall
And wait for your word to call
with every other smile
Propped up in alcohol
You said it’s fine
So, where is my love?
You’ve got it tangled up
With poison in angered blood
when I feel you creeping in
That’s when I givе it all away
Well, take my voice and my namе

What advice would you have for someone who hears “Skin” and thinks, “That’s me”?

Hans Williams: Turn it uppppp! I’m joking. In all seriousness I would say listen to yourself. You’re always going to understand yourself better than anyone else, and that’s why you’ll always be able to pick yourself apart in a more detrimental way than anyone ever could. Trust in part of yourself you know best.

Under my skin, where you hide
Tearing me apart, one piece at a time
Walk in the shadow of my own pride

Let’s also briefly talk about your brand new single. What is “The Trek” about, and what does this song mean to you?

Hans Williams: I wrote “The Trek” with my friend Lyla George before going home for the holidays this past December. It’s about all the friends from home you see once or twice a year and slowly lose touch with throughout adulthood. It’s funny how your relationship with a place changes as your relationships you once had there die off and that place stays the same. It’s a reminder that I don’t need a reason to check in on those friends, I can just give them a call and see what’s up.

Hans Williams © Hank Miller
Hans Williams © Hank Miller



You were raised in Vermont, and now live in New Orleans. What impact, if any, have these two very different environments had on you as an artist, and the kind of music you make?

Hans Williams: Oh man, well moving down to New Orleans exposed me to a scene which I had never been in before. And not just a scene, but probably the scene with the most talent, history, and humility in the world. It’s made me really proud to be a musician, and I’ve gotten to share the same stages and worlds that some of my idols and my idols’ influences grew up on. Moving here also brought me to my band. We’re a five piece made up of Isaac Worley, Elliott Miller, Richard Rourke, and Joe Pizzolato. They’re some of the most talented musicians and songwriters I’ve ever met and have expanded the way I think about music in a way I couldn’t imagine when I lived in Vermont.

It’s hard to tell the influence Vermont had on me because I don’t have any context of growing up elsewhere. But if I had to guess, I think growing up in a rural area gave me a lot of time to reflect, and think about how I wanted to spend my life. I was privileged enough to be able to pursue music from a really young age and had some great mentors along the way. I think pretty early on I decided that writing songs was the most rewarding thing in the world, and I don’t know, if I had lived around my friends or had more of a bustling social life growing up, if that realisation would have come so early.

Another Vermont singer/songwriter is currently enjoying a moment in the spotlight - Noah Kahan. I’ve admittedly been following his career for several years now, but his mainstream big break started more recently with the folk-leaning “Stick Season.” Do you feel like folk, or alt-folk, or whatever we call that kind of music, is enjoying a revival of sorts right now?

Hans Williams: Yes, it definitely is and it’s great to see him bringing that music to such a large scale. I think the world needs something that’s incredibly intimate and relatable now and the popularized folk music we’re familiar with today fits that well. He grew up in the same area – the Upper Valley – and went to the same high school although we didn’t overlap. I kinda grew up listening to his older tunes on SoundCloud that him and my friend, and collaborator, Phin Choukas’ brother, Nate, produced – and that’s when I first realized a recording career coming out of a small town in Vermont was doable.

All I needed was to find a friend who knew how to work Ableton, which, in the Upper Valley at the time was like finding a hockey rink in New Orleans – it just didn’t happen. But what do ya know, Phil was there picking up on Nate’s production style, and we kinda picked up where they had left off. Although, at the time, we were heavily influenced by all the pop folk production of the mid 2010s, it’s been cool to see Noah and other artists lean further into a more acoustic and alternative realm that relies on great depth of instrumentation. No pun intended, but I think that kind of music could last forever, and I hope it does.

“I WON’T BE ALONE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE”: NOAH KAHAN’S INTIMATE & EPIC “FOREVER” IS A BEAUTIFUL CODA TO ‘STICK SEASON’

:: REVIEW ::



What might someone be surprised to learn about you? What is one of Hans Williams’ “fun facts”?

Hans Williams: I was born on Christmas 2000 during a solar eclipse. I’m not religious but there’s gotta be something there… again, joking. I should mention again my whole comedic personality relies on you having watched I Think You Should Leave by Tim Robinson, so I hope some of these references are coming through.

I understand this is the beginning of a whole lot more new music to come this year! What can you tell us about what 2024 has in store for you, music wise, and what has you most excited about this year to come?

Hans Williams: Yeah I cannot wait to get this project out. It’s a five song EP called More Than One Way Home that I wrote over the past year and a half, but mostly in the last six or seven months, and recorded all this summer and fall. It felt really good to create something while it was fresh and then release it while it still means something.

This upcoming tour is probably the one thing I am most stoked about. I’ve been releasing music for almost six years now and we’ve really only played in the Northeast and New Orleans so far, so this will be a long time coming for most cities we play. I cannot wait to just sit down and talk with the folks that come to these shows. I have so much admiration for these folks that have been following for half a decade and have yet to see a show, but still support in every way possible. It is going to be beautiful.

Hans Williams © Hank Miller
Hans Williams © Hank Miller



What do you hope listeners take away from your new music, and what have you yourself taken away from making it and now putting it out?

Hans Williams: I hope they take away whatever feels right. This music is ours in the way that I wrote these songs to maintain an emotional balance in my life, while also allowing the listener to receive them in whatever state they’re in to interpret them in their own way. That’s what is so damn beautiful about it.

For me, More Than One Way Home is a reminder that I will someday feel the same sense of belonging that I felt in my hometown growing up. It’s for all the traumatic moments I would rather forget, but hold onto instead, because I know there’s [power in] accepting them, or at least living them will make me stronger. It is a way of saying, “I don’t have a clue where I’m at, where I’m going, or how I will get there,” and that’s great.

In the spirit of paying it forward, who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Hans Williams: Oh man. Okay so there’s a handful but the first artist that comes to mind is Asha Wells. They’re a songwriter and producer out of San Francisco who just creates these epicly casual soundscapes. They’re such a pleasure to listen to I don’t know how else to put it.

Been bumping some Medium Build recently. He is so evocative. I just know he’s putting every ounce of his soul into his songs. Would love to see him live someday.

Been listening to a good amount of The Meters recently. Just classic and so influential in their style. Beyond that a lot of John Vincent III, Dijon, Black Pumas, and Big Thief.

— —

:: stream/purchase “skin” here ::
:: connect with Hans Williams here ::
Stream: “Skin” – Hans Williams



— — — —

Skin - Hans Williams

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? © Hank Miller

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