HANNAH & MAGGIE CHAT ‘OH NO’, TOURING AND FUTURE PLANS 125

There’s a general belief that best friends can and often do everything together – it certainly holds truth for Hannah & Maggie, two best friends who came together over their shared love of music which has since grown into a blossoming career in the industry. Their new album, Oh No, released on May 19th, inspired by the world around them as well as personal experiences, is their strongest release to date, which showcases their development and growth both as artists and individuals. As they prepare to share the album with the world, the pair kindly chatted with Thisisthelatest and told us all about their musical backgrounds, first concerts and their advice for aspiring artists.

TITL: Firstly, for those who might be unfamiliar with you and your music, please introduce yourselves.

Hannah & Maggie: We’ve been best friends for nearly seven years, traveling the Northeast – and occasionally beyond – to play folk-pop music. Hannah lives in Astoria, Queens, and Maggie is in Western MA, working on her graduate degree.

TITL: How did you meet/come together?

H&M: We met singing a cappella at Smith college. A friend in the group suggested that we play sometime, as we’re both guitarists. Once we started, we never stopped.

TITL: When did you first know that you wanted to make music a career? Were there any particular artists that inspired you?

H&M: We have such a good time, it was immediately apparent to both of us that we wanted to continue to play together. There wasn’t one moment specifically that we can point to and say “that’s when we decided to make a go of it.” You might even argue, given our continued efforts in other fields (Maggie is in grad school and Hannah is working on publishing a novel), that we’ve yet to commit fully to a music career. Our goal is to keep music in our lives in whatever way is most tenable. Sometimes that means scheduling gigs and going on the road. Others, it simply means making time for our musical friendship.

TITL: What did your parents make of your career plans and are they supportive of what you do?

H&M: We’ve been blessed with incredibly supportive parents. It was our mothers who fronted us the money so we could go into the studio for the first time. Our parents have showed up to gigs near and far, hosted house concerts, and found us friends to stay with on the road. It’s hard to imagine if we’d ever have come this far without their support.

TITL: Can you recall the first albums you bought or concerts you attended? What impact did they have?

H: My earliest musical memories actually took place in the theater. My dad is an actor and, growing up, I loved getting the chance to hang out back stage. I have such vivid memories of being surrounded by artists and creative types as a kid. I think that context allowed me to imagine myself in the arts and made the idea of a music career less radical.

M: One of the first concerts I ever saw was Saves The Day at Roseland Ballroom in New York City. I was thirteen and couldn’t see over the shoulders of all of the people standing on the floor so my mom – who generously chaperoned the show – talked the bouncer into letting us upstairs to watch from the balcony. It was unbelievable. I identified so much with the things they were singing about and the way they constructed their songs. It was emotional and poignant but also up-tempo and fun. Their album Stay What You Are is still one of my favorite albums of all time.

TITL: Tell me a little about your upcoming album Oh No.

H&M: This album came together over an extremely difficult period in our personal lives, during which we both went through serious break-ups with long term partners. Even though most of the songs were written before our respective heartbreaks, they’ve taken on such new meaning for us in light of the whole process of moving forward.

TITL: The album was crowd-funded. How was it to see your fans get behind the project like they did?

H&M: We were frankly shocked at the support for our crowdfunding efforts. Our fans never cease to amaze. We have been so lucky to have encountered such generous, thoughtful, and supportive people since we started playing together. We can’t wait to share this with everyone on May 19!

TITL: Could you each pick your favourite track from the collection and if so, which is it and why?

H: My personal favorite is a track Maggie wrote called “North We Go.” I honestly can’t put my finger on why I love it so much. I just think it’s beautiful.

M: The album starts with a very short song called “Overture”. We decided we would comb through the whole album in search of little melodies and refrains and arrange them to replicate the overture at the beginning of a musical. So much of this music ended up foreshadowing some personal life events for us and I think “Overture” sort of foreshadows the experience of hearing the album from start to finish.

TITL: How does this album differ from your previous releases? How do you think you’ve matured and evolved with each record you’ve put out?

H&M: In the past, fans have come up to us and said that our music helped them through a difficult times. Which, of course, is so gratifying as an artist, to feel that your music has made a difference in people’s lives. What’s funny about Oh No is that, oddly, the music has helped us in that same way. As we started to record these songs, it was therapeutic to see how the lyrics took on new meaning and relevance. It was almost like our past selves had written the songs that would later help us navigate the momentous changes in our lives.

TITL: Who or what most inspires your song-writing?

H&M: Everything! Other songwriters, the weather, relationships, trees, you name it.

TITL: In your opinions, which two songs (or one, if you agree) would you say are the greatest ever written and why?

H: Just one?! I’m going with either “Tonight” from West Side Story or “No One is Alone” from Into the Woods. Obviously I love Sondheim. I might even go as far to say he’s the best songwriter of our time. But honestly, ask me another day and you’d get a different answer.

M: I honestly believe the world would be a different place if Joni Mitchell hadn’t written “A Case Of You”. I have returned to that song a number of times in my life when I needed to be reminded that just because something is over doesn’t mean it didn’t matter.

TITL: Will you be touring in support of the album and are there plans for you to head over to the UK/Europe?

H&M: Yes! We’ll be traveling around the Northeast US. No plans at the moment to cross the pond, but never say never.

TITL: You’ve undertaken several national tours in the US so far, but of all the shows you’ve played, do you have any favourites?

H&M: We once showed up in the small town of Amarillo Texas. Frankly, we were expecting a terrible gig. The main street was dusty and quiet when we arrived in the late afternoon. The cafe where we played was completely empty as we set-up. Then, miraculously, one-by-one people started trickling in. By the time we started playing, a diverse group of lovable queers and weirdos had packed the place. We were blown away and had such a good time. Something similar happened at a dive bar on the outskirts of Asheville NC, where a fan decided to host her birthday party at the venue during the show. So many people showed up to cheer us on, we couldn’t believe it.

TITL: Which venue, that you haven’t already, would you most like to play and which four bands or artists (two each) who can be living or dead, would you like to share the stage with?

H: I’d love to play Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, with Brandi Carlile and John Mayer.

M: I would love to play a summertime house show in somebody’s backyard with Iron and Wine and the Tallest Man On Earth.

TITL: What are your thoughts on social media and would you agree with the general consensus that bands and artists today need to be socially interactive to earn and grow a fan-base?

H: There’s no question that social media has become a crucial part, not just of the music industry, but of almost every industry these days. Particularly for artists, it’s important for fans to feel like they know who you are. Of course, this can be dangerous and boundaries are crucial. Maggie doesn’t even have a personal Facebook anymore because it’s so time consuming. But, we enjoy meeting fans at shows with whom we’ve developed a rapport over social media. It’s nice to give people a window into our process and feel, even when we’re not playing regular gigs, that the connection is still alive.

TITL: What else does this year have in store for you?

H&M: All our focus right now is on releasing this album. We’re so excited to get back on the road this spring and summer. Beyond that, Maggie has two more years of her graduate program and Hannah has to find a more affordable apartment in New York. Wish us luck?

TITL: Finally then, where would you like to see yourselves five years from now and what advice would you give to aspiring artists trying to make their way in this ever-competitive industry?

H&M: In five years? Hopefully we’ll still be best friends, traveling and playing music as often as we can. For people trying to make it in music, we say: pace yourself. This business is as exhausting as it is exciting. Make sure you know, in your heart, why you’re writing songs. Don’t do it for fame or money – both of which are very hard to come by! Open yourself up to the world, put yourself out there, and let the music take you where it will. We never cease to be amazed at the opportunities that have arisen in our career. But it’s taken time and endless hours of hard work. There’s no such thing as overnight success.

Check out the video for the single “Oh No” below and for more information on Hannah & Maggie, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Their new album Oh No is available for pre-order now.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LIVE: THE SCRIPT @ MANCHESTER ARENA – FEBRUARY 3RD 2018 40

After a hugely successful mini-tour back in August and September ahead of fifth studio album Freedom Child’s release, it was really only a matter of time before The Script found their way back to the place they truly feel at home – on stage. But, before they delighted the thousands of die-hard fans, some of whom had queued since 2am to get the best spots at the barrier, who had sold-out Manchester Arena, it was up to Ella Eyre to metaphorically, and given the biting February cold, literally help warm them up ahead of the main event.

Ella walked on stage to a rapidly filling arena and for the next half hour, danced, shimmied and sang her way into the hearts of many before her. Vocally, she may not have been the strongest female to have graced the arena stage, but she certainly proved herself to be one of the most energetic as she encouraged the crowd to sing and dance along, especially to closing number and smash hit “Came Here For Love” which went down a storm.

After an interval of around half an hour, during which time a four sided curtain shrouded the B stage towards the back of the arena, the lights dimmed once more and, almost simultaneously, the cheering proceeded to get louder and louder. As the curtain fell away to the opening notes of “Superheroes”, the band, drummer Glen, guitarist Mark and front-man Danny, complete with newly dyed blonde locks, made their first appearance before their ecstatic audience, with Danny bouncing up and down brimming with the energy of a man half his age, but with a vocal that’s never sounded better.

Having told their fans via Twitter that this new tour was to be very interactive, following “Rock The World”, the band proceeded to prove said comment via “Paint The Town Green” and with Glen armed with a mini drum and Mark leading the way with his guitar, the band made their way through the packed crowd down to the front and onto the main stage.

“It’s Not Right For You” offered up the first real opportunity for the thousands packed into the venue to show off their vocal skills, and they seized said opportunity happily as their “oh-oh-oh’s” echoed around the vast space, before they earned themselves rapturous applause from Glen and bassist Ben in particular for their efforts during “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.”

As Danny took a seat at the piano that had by now appeared on stage, he began to play the intro to “Wonders”, a track from the bands’ latest album which had already proven itself (given the Twitter reaction it’s received in recent months) to be a new fan favourite, so needless to say, as the thousands present finally heard it live for the first time, they were more than a little happy. One individual close to the front was likely even more so, when, mid-song, having left the piano, Danny proceeded to reach over, grab their drink and take a swig of it. The trio then continued to power their way through their set, delivering hit song after hit song – “Six Degrees Of Separation” and “Nothing” being just two, with applause and cheers rarely far from their ears. “If You Could See Me Now” meanwhile had many audience members, myself included, on the verge of tears, and the emotion in Danny’s voice, and in his eyes, was clear for all to hear and see.

“No Man Is An Island” had practically everyone in attendance (at least those I could see), including those in the seats, at Danny’s instruction, placing their left arm around the shoulder of the person next to them and taking eight steps to the left and eight to the right in time with the music – it made for quite a sight, one which has seen the crowd since be referred to, rather humorously, as “penguins.”

Continuing to be extremely (and surprisingly) interactive during with the crowd their set, the band then appeared in the middle of the seating area, surrounded by standing fans, and proceeded to play renditions of “If You Ever Come Back” and the beautifully melodic “Never Seen Anything Quite Like You”, before, as Mark and Glen made their way back to the main stage, Danny continued to delight those in the tiers by singing “The Energy Never Dies” as he made his way through the crowd back towards his bandmates.

It’s not every day you see fans hold up umbrellas indoors, but that’s exactly what some did during the performance of “Rain”, the song that rounded off the main set. Having left the stage for a few minutes, during which the sound of thousands of stamping feet and rapidly increasing in volume cheers echoed from all corners of the venue, the band then returned for their encore, kicking it off with “No Good In Goodbye”, closely followed by “Breakeven.”

With tonight being the first show the band have played in the arena since 2015, and following the bombing last year, it was touching to then see Danny introduce on stage the Parrs Wood High School Harmony Choir, who performed with Ariana Grande at the One Love Manchester concert.

He then went on to give an emotive and passionate speech about freedom:

“We all stand united together Manchester. That’s what this album is about; freedom. The freedom of expression, to love who you wanna love, to be who you wanna be, to say what you wanna say. Have no fear. Never fear! Now to me, music has always been the one true religion, because it accepts you no matter who you are, what colour, what creed, what sex, what shape, what nationality…it cares not. It’s always been there for me since I was young, and I’m guessing, by looking at all of you, it was there for you too.”

He called on everyone present to take out their phones and record the moment that was unfolding, inviting them to make a memory with him and the band. That moment, with thousands of lights filling the arena, created what Danny referred to as “a whole constellation of stars” of which he said, “every one of those is a portal to the outside world, and we’re going to give them a moment to remember.” As he asked if Manchester was ready to “make a moment”, the roaring cheer he received in response told him the answer was an emphatic ‘yes.’ From there “Hall Of Fame”, with the choir adding an extra special something to the performance, closed out the set, ending it on an undeniable high.

With over a dozen more dates still left for the band to perform on this leg of the tour, and likely scores more yet to be announced, tonight The Script not only entertained those before them, but also got those with tickets for upcoming shows, and following the show on social media, even more hyped up. They might have been away for close to three years, but given the energy and passion with which they performed each and every song, together with the reaction of the crowd, tonight in Manchester, it was like they never went away at all.

BRIT AWARDS 2018: RITA ORA TO PERFORM 41

The BRITs 2018 performance line-up adds another superstar in Rita Ora who will take to the stage at the awards ceremony for the first time this year. She will join Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, Stormzy, Rag’n’Bone Man and Jorja Smith at The O2 on 21 February for the biggest night in British music.

Previously nominated for four BRIT Awards, and with 7 million single sales and a No. 1 platinum debut album to her name, Rita’s recent return to music has seen her into the charts four times in less than a year, most recently with ‘For You’ – a duet with BRITs 2018 double-nominee Liam Payne.

Rita said: “I am so honoured to be performing at The BRITs this year, as a British artist it has always been a dream of mine and I am beyond excited”

BRITs Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Sony Music UK & Ireland Jason Iley said: “The BRIT Awards are a celebration of the biggest success stories of the last 12 months in music and Rita has had an incredible year.  She is one of the most exciting British artists of her generation.  I am so pleased to welcome her to The BRITs stage and very much look forward to what will undoubtably be one of the evenings many highlights.”

The 38th BRIT Awards will be hosted by Jack Whitehall and broadcast live on ITV. Celebrate with us on 21 February!