[CCP Interview]: Hannah Georgas on the Inspiration for her New Record, Being Featured on HBO’s GIRLS, and Balance as a Beacon of Success


Canadian artist Hannah Georgas may not be a household name just yet, but as the recipient of Emerging Artist of the Year at XM’s Verge Music Awards in 2011 and numerous accolades since, it’s obvious that she’s a rising star. The Toronto-based singer has released three albums to date, including her latest, For Evelyn that came out June this year. The new critically-acclaimed record, named in honor of Hannah’s “compassionate, patient, kind and beautiful” 98-year-old grandmother, was produced by Graham Walsh (Preoccupations) and mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, The War on Drugs).

For Evelyn encompasses a range of emotions and offers an intimate look into Hannah’s psyche as she navigates her insecurities and anxieties surrounding loss. Musically, she sits somewhere between the vocally emotive sounds of singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles (whom she’s actually toured with), and the synthpop stylings of Metric. Her album, however is deeply personal.

Currently on tour this month in support of the LP, the songbird will be gracing the District with her presence at Songbyrd October 6 alongside Firekid and DC’s Wylder. In advance of the show, Hannah took the time to talk to CCP about the inspiration for the new record, working with Graham Walsh, finding balance, being featured on HBO’s GIRLS, and her dream of performing on Jimmy Fallon.

First off, give us a bit of background info. How did you get into music and when did you first discover that you had musical ability?

My dad was a really great piano player and performer. He was always playing the piano and singing around my family when I was little. I think his energy rubbed off on me. My mom put me into piano lessons when I was five, and I started writing songs as soon as I could figure out my way around the piano. Music was an important topic and outlet in my household.

On your last couple of records you worked with seasoned producer Graham Walsh. How did that come about and what was it like working with him? 

I met Graham in 2011 when we worked on my self-titled album together. I was a big fan of his project Holy F*ck and wanted to reach out to him. We’ve developed a great sense of trust and comradery. It feels really comfortable going to him with my songs and bouncing off ideas together. 

The new album, For Evelyn is dedicated to your grandmother. Can you speak about the significance of your relationship with her and the thematic connection to the record?
I’ve always admired her openness and patience. She’s a strong and powerful woman but so humble in her demeanor. I wanted to acknowledge her compassion and the positivity she’s shown me. The album is very much about my ongoing challenge of overcoming my fears and rising above it. I feel like she’s someone who has been through it all and can now reflect upon it.
The single “Don’t Go” is particularly poignant. Can you elaborate on what this song means to you?
I have been thinking a lot about mortality and the thought of losing my mother. It’s definitely an overwhelming and heartbreaking feeling, and I felt inspired to write about it. 

What is your favorite song off the new album to perform?

It’s been really fun performing “Crazy Shit” and “Waste” with my band. We have those two songs placed towards the end of the set and I always look forward to playing them.

Your track “Millions” was featured on a episode of HBO’s GIRLS. How did you feel about that, and do you watch the show?!

I’ve watched every single episode of that show. I’m a big fan of Girls and love Lena Dunham, so I was super excited to find out that my song would be on the show.

Who are some artists you’re listening to at the moment? Do you have a favorite album of the year?

I’ve been listening to the new Frank Ocean album a bunch. His last record inspired me a lot too. My friend Jeffrey Innes has a project called High Ends and he put out an album called Super Class. I listen to it a lot. Sylvan Esso, Perfume Genius, Wye Oak, Christine and the Queens are other artists I’ve really gotten into over the past couple of years.

You’ve received numerous awards and accolades in Canada . . . what does success mean to you? Any other goals you’re currently striving for?

I feel like success is being able to create a balance between your work and personal life and finding happiness amongst it all. I feel really thankful that I do what I love for a living, and I’m still sometimes trying to find that balance. There a lot of things that I’d like to accomplish and goals that I would love to achieve with my music. I want to continue to work with people that I really admire and make music that’s inspiring. I also want to play on Jimmy Fallon because he’s the best.

Last but not least, what is the best and hardest thing about being on the road?

The best thing about being on the road is getting into a groove playing live and feeling really comfortable on stage. The worst thing about being on the road for me is living out of a suitcase and not having the comforts of home. I also misplace things a lot and that sucks when you’re running around from place to place!

Watch a video of Hannah performing the track “Lost Cause” live, and if you’re in the DC area be sure to check out her show at Songbyrd this week! For Evelyn is out now on iTunes and available for streaming on all major digital outlets.

THE COVERUP: Amy Syed – You Go To My Head


We have a new installment of The Coverup for you today, a segment in which we feature a fresh take on a classic. This week, we wanted to showcase a modern recast of a jazz standard — Amy Syed‘s reworking of Billie Holiday‘s “You Go To My Head.” The ethereal cover, which also serves as the introduction to the unsigned singer-songwriter, is the first recording with musical collaborators Ali Thynne (MNEK) (drums) and Peter Lee (keys) — which will be included on the London trio’s forthcoming EP.

Maintaining the jazzy undertones of the original, Syed reimagines the song as a haunting blend of trip-hop and electronica. Speaking on the song selection, Syed says: “I heard the original of ‘You Go To My Head’ a few years ago, and it always stayed with me as some of the most beautiful lyrics I had ever heard. We wanted to see what would happen if we stripped away all the original music from an old classic, and rewrote the harmony and production from scratch.”

As a professionally trained jazz singer and backing vocalist, Syed also has experience supporting established acts such as Florence Welch and Bat For Lashes in the studio. And with influences ranging from Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to Robyn and Daft Punk, it will be interesting to see what kind of original works she and her bandmates come up with for the EP. While you wait for its release, let this cover cast a spell on your ears as you listen below.

Pearla – Waking Up


Like many singer-songwriters before her, the beginnings of Pearla‘s musical career blossomed as a youth with innate talent upon discovering the likes of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. The now NYC-based artist, aka Nicole Rodriguez has been writing music ever since, and is about to release her first official single under the pseudonym Pearla that will be a part of her forthcoming EP. With other worthy influences ranging from Alanis Morissette, to Conor Oberst and Laura Marling, Pearla puts her own artistic flair and unique voice on the uplifting debut, “Waking Up.” Listen below.

Billie Marten – Milk & Honey


At the tender age of eight, Billie Marten was given her first guitar and wrote her first ‘proper’ song after having learned four chords from her father. Eight years later — upon being bred on influences such as Laura Marling, David Bowie, Portishead and Loudon Wainwright — the young singer-songwriter from Yorkshire has already made her debut appearance at SXSW and been lauded for her musical abilities. Her new single “Milk & Honey,” released on Chess Club Records is a beatific ballad about greed — specifically, “the thoughts that we’re all sort of stuck in this consumerist frame of mind” explains Marten. Stream via Spotify below.

Laura Gibson – Empire Builder

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If you’ve ever wondered how the popular NPR Tiny Desk Concert series came to be, you may be surprised to learn that the origins actually began at a SXSW show in 2008, when NPR Music’s Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson made a futile attempt to see a performance by singer-songwriter Laura Gibson.

After a frustrating experience trying to hear Ms. Gibson’s subdued vocals over a noisy crowd, Thompson mentioned to the singer post-show in jest that she should just come play at their desks. Three weeks later, the “joke” became a reality and Gibson showed up at NPR, ready to impart her folk-like melodies in person. Now eight years and hundreds of performances later, the series is still going strong and Gibson has the distinction of being the first artist to ever traverse the tiny desk.

This Saturday, as Gibson plans to drop her fourth record, Empire Builder tomorrow April 1 via Barsuk Records, she will once again bring her supple sounds to the DMV as she’s set to play Iota Cafe. Gibson’s been through a lot lately, having packed up all her things from Portland to move to New York for grad school, only to have her East Village apartment burned down last year. While she lost everything, the tragic event certainly provided ample fodder for storytelling and growth as a songwriter. Hear the new album’s title track, along with older effort “Where Have All Your Good Words Gone” via Spotify below.

If you’re in the DC area, we encourage you to check out the show at Iota this weekend. Who knows, maybe Boilen and Thompson will make an appearance (just try to keep your noise levels in check, please).

Upcoming US Tour Dates:
Fri: April 1 – Raleigh, NC – Kings Barcade
Sat: April 2 – Arlington, VA – Iota Club & Cafe
Sun: April 3 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
Wed: April 6 – Portsmouth, NH 3S Art Space
Fri: April 8 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
Sat: April 9 – New York City, NY – Joe’s Pub
Thu: Apr 14 – Portland, OR – The Old Church
Fri: Apr 15 – Seattle, WA – Fremont Abbey

Andrew Bird – Roma Fade


Beloved singer-songwriter and world-class whistler Andrew Bird is back with new material, whose ninth album Are You Serious comes out via Loma Vista April 1. The record is professed to be his most personal yet, with less abstruse wordplay and a more vulnerable side of the multilayered artist on view.

Bird muses: “What happens when real ordeals befall someone who has always been happy writing from their imagination and the distance of the third person? Who has time for poetics while grappling with birth and death? What’s the role of sincerity for a songwriter who doesn’t really go in for the confessional thing? This is what I struggled with for this record. I suppose the title could be poking fun at my own foray into the confessional realm.”

The result is a distillation of distinct, unguarded arrangements and ideas that resonated with Bird over a three-to-four year period. In advance of the LP he’s shared a few tracks — including “Roma Fade,” a song about the nervous tension of romantic attraction, propelled by his signature pizzicato on the violin and a propulsive drum beat. The track also comes accompanied by classic artwork from conceptual artist John Baldessari.

Bird will be hitting the road at the end of March in support of the new album, performing to a sold-out crowd at DC’s 9:30 Club April 5.

Stranded Horse – Monde


Stranded Horse is the project of Parisian artist Yann Tambour, whose third album Luxe is out today via French label Talitres. Tambour, who began experimenting with an array of instruments at a young age—including the kora (a 21-string lute-bridge-harp made from calabash gourd and cowhide popular in West Africa)—continues to challenge himself instrumentally on the new effort. Nonetheless, the opening track of the album, “Monde,” is also the most simplistic, amounting to an exquisite french duet with Eloïse Decazes of pop-rock-folk act Arlt. Although according to Tambour the lyrics are meant to be ambigious, our french is a little rusty so some assistance with the translation would be appreciated, s’il vous plaît. Stream below.

Chelsea Wolfe – After the Fall


LA’s very own dirge queen, Chelsea Wolfe is set to release her new album Abyss on August 7, and from the sounds of the third single “After the Fall” she’s on course to deliver another masterwork of ethereal sludge. The track proffers a slight but welcome evolution to the tried and true sounds Ms. Wolfe has perfected on earlier releases: crushing bass distorts, a jagged synth interlude rings out, and drums like distant thunder are battered into moments of sparse echo by one hell of a fuzz pedal — all laced together by those signature throaty wisps. It amounts to a dystopian love song, which according to a press release ‘attempts to capture the frustration of being stuck inside a dream, unable to wake up.’ Hear it below.

Liza Anne – Ocean

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Another artist who had a successful turn at SXSW this year — Liza Anne is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who makes pop-flavored, and oft heartrending folk music. She’s set to release her second album, aptly titled TWO on May 19, which you can pre-order on iTunes.

Opening up about the subject matter of the album closer, “Ocean,” Liza Anne relayed: “It’s terrifying to feel walls building up between you and someone you care for. The face of relationships changing has always been an extreme source of anxiety, negative introspection and insecurity for me — this set of lyrics is me voicing a very personal struggle with those emotions in a (what seemed sudden) change of relationship.”

Stream “Ocean” below, and head over to her Soundcloud page for a full set of lyrics. There’s a delightfully secret message embedded within them…but we’re not telling what it is, so head over to see if you can figure it out yourself!

Prateek Kuhad – Held You Tight


A few weeks back we received a submission from an artist named Prateek Kuhad, a singer-songwriter based out of New Delhi, India. He seems to have a large following there, and listening to his catalog of soothing, breezy folk-pop it’s easy to see why. Stream the heartwarming, Buddy Holly-esque track “Held You Tight” taken from his 2015 debut record In Tokens & Charms below.