The Winehouse Mag

June 16th, 2014
NXNE: Hannah Epperson

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Part two of the Winehouse Mag's NXNE spotlights! Continue to discover the standout artists that will be leaving their mark on this year’s festival. ♦  

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Who: Hannah Epperson

Where: Vancouver

When: Rivoli Thursday, June 19 @ 10 PM

Sound: Orchestral folk, Indie pop

Some artist’s music moves, and has an essence to it that is so imaginative and organic that it reaches through the computer or across a stage and takes hold of you—that is what happened when I heard the bewitching songs of Hannah Epperson. 

Crafting music with a magical tenor, in 2013 the violinist, singer, and composer, was named by CBC radio as one of Canada’s “Top Artists to Watch.” From “Shadowless” to “We Will Host a Party” and “Murder of Crows” (WWHAP and MOC are from her 2011 EP, Home Batch), Epperson sonically takes the listener’s hand, leading them into a quaint alternate universe awash with dark undercurrents.

Besides being undeniably gifted, Epperson’s unaffected nature is endearing as well. (Not many twenty-something’s can use the word “lovely” or phrases like “knee high to a grasshopper” with as much warmth and sincerity as she does.) 

In this Winehouse spotlight Epperson talks eloquently about her mischievous muse, boundless inspirations and her new highly anticipated music that may or may not be coming anytime soon. Chaka V. 

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“Hannah Epperson has a raw, unfettered talent that’s uncensored and intricate.” NXNE

TWM: When did you start playing the violin? Do you play any other instruments?

A: I started on the violin when I was knee high to a grasshopper. It was a big year: kindergarten and violin in one fell swoop. Growing up with brothers who played cello, clarinet, piano and guitar, I’ve always putted around on other instruments, but I’d never profess fluency. I suspect this next year will be a big one for experimentation with other instruments, including my voice.

TWM: When do you find your best songs come to you? Are you a night owl writer? An early bird? Is it random and hard to pin down?

A: The music muse I consort with is a most unruly sprite indeed. Songs have always and only ever surfaced when I’m under an immense amount of pressure from some extraneous aspect in my life. Some of my favourite compositions have sprung up in the midst of university exams or in the middle of packing for college nationals; I’ve missed deadlines for term papers and skipped job interviews for the sake of a song. It’s almost like the song will come out, as long as I don’t look at it. And so of course it’s when I have all the time in the world to write that I feel utterly abandoned. It would be an omissive lie to withhold from you the fact that I’ve considered grad school for the sake of my music writing.

TWM: There is something incredibly imaginative, fresh and vibrant about your sound, image and even song titles — I suspect that very unusual, even whimsical, things inspire you. Can you share with me some of those things that inspires you? (Books, landscapes, people, etc.)

A: Music has this curious way of disclosing its own innermost nature at the same time that it discloses its idea, or its inspiration.  The two things are intimately but also mysteriously connected. And so trying to locate the discrete sources of inspiration, or explaining the idea at the heart of my music, is most often a reflective process, done in reverse, like looking in the rear view mirror.  And because of that, my answers, though always related, often change. Maybe it’s an annoying, or seemingly evasive answer, but my inspiration is everything.  Relationships, cosmology, sports, natural history, madness, ecosystems. There’s the miracle of discovery and explanation in everything you look at and experience; one can never predict when or how or why they become moved to translate those moments into another medium, like song.

TWM: Some of your influences are Bjork, Radiohead, Andrew Bird, Owen Pallett, Beirut, Stereolab, Efterklang, Maurice Ravel, Arvo Part. But if I looked through your iPod what artists or songs would I be surprised to discover?

A: Perhaps System of a Down would seem a bit incongruent?  It’s an inherited taste, it must be. I remember the shock I experienced when I heard my father, usually a classical music man, blast System of a Down’s “Toxicity” from start to finish while he was washing dinner dishes one night.  I remember listening to it on my own after that, searching for whatever magic it was that my dad was hearing. Anyway, I still love that album.

TWM: If your music could be the soundtrack for any film/TV show (past or present), which film or TV show would it be?

A: Probably anything Spike Jonze has written, produced, directed or been remotely involved in ever. Past present or future inclusive.

TWM: What’s up with the vinyl and music video you hint about on your Tumblr? And when can we expect an EP or album from you?

A: I’m always hinting at crap and then getting totally derailed by other projects. But! There is indeed a limited edition 7″ EP called BURN currently en route to my doorstep! It’s true!  It features two singles, two little sonic hints of a new and very exciting collaboration with an incredible producer and friend, Ajay Bhattacharyya (STINT). And the music video, funded by Public Records (thank you!), features one of the tracks from the EP called “Shadowless,” which goes public June 20th.

As for an album … Well, I was just reading about Bertrand Russell’s 1927 The Analysis of Matter, and in it he notes that, when it comes to the intrinsic nature of entities, we’re really just presented with great relational webs: “all structure, no stuff.” And I guess that’s as much as I can say about the album. The relational web for the album is alive and well, boasting all structure, no stuff.  Not just yet, anyway.  I suspect I’ll have something very different and far more tangible to say come October.

TWM: For those who can’t catch your NXNE show, where else will you be touring this summer?

A: At this point, I don’t think summer 2014 is going to be a big tour buster for me. I’ll be playing Squamish Music Festival in August in BC, and am looking to do a West Coast lead-up tour. But having just come off a 2 month tour with friend and colleague Aidan Knight, I’m aching for stillness to write, record and water my very unhappy window plants.

Next NXNE Spotlight: Aisha Burns 

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Photo Credit: Brianne Nord-Stewart

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chaka V. is a writer,  journalist and the creator of The Winehouse Mag. 

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