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.