Hannah Kathleen‘s route into music has been anything but conventional. A marketing entrepreneur who dropped out of school due to medical issues, she steps into music with a wealth of life experience for her tender years and drops her debut single ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ as she’s stuck in South Africa amid the coronavirus crisis.
Behind the scenes, over 60 tracks are waiting to follow the debut single down the pipeline, so we’ll be seeing plenty of Hannah Kathleen’s upbeat pop in the coming months.
I caught up with her to get a glimpse of her career’s promising early days…
At two and a half minutes, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ really is the lightest of glimpses of what we might expect from you. How typical of your music is it?
I felt Little Miss Sunshine was the ideal introduction; it highlights many key elements of my vocal style and it’s quite vulnerable in its approach. I do, however, have multiple sides to me that I enjoy exploring in my music. So in a nutshell, I would say it’s typical in its styling of my music, but also just one side of me.
Did it feel strange releasing the single into the ether while you’re locked at home?
Yes, it felt completely strange! I’m actually stuck in South Africa right now due to the COVID-19 lockdown, and so, I was away from home when the single dropped. At first, I felt a little apprehensive to share it at such a time, as we are all going through so much, but my hope is that it can bring some sunshine to your day when listening, even if just for 2 minutes 29 seconds!
In the announcement of the single, you talk about how music helped you through health problems when you were young. Are the 90s icons you cite as influences the same acts you were listening to back then?
They have always been big inspirations to me, for sure. But there are also many other artists that I listened to growing up, ranging from the likes of Celine Dion to The Carpenters, to Westlife to Enya, so my musical taste is very broad and always has been.
How much more music do you have ready to go behind the scenes?
I have about 60 songs ready to go, but they need to be recorded and finalised. There are many more on top of that too, but those are the ones I feel are closest to being ready.
I understand you’ve been playing all over the world already. How did you pull this off ahead of having much music in the public domain?
I have been really lucky with the opportunities that have come my way. I think it’s been a combination of building relationships and being in the right place at the right time. I’ve been so humbled to have support from a lot of my close network who have helped me in creating these opportunities and I am so grateful for those.
How did you find the high-end gig experiences, and how do you expect playing to people like Richard Branson to compare to Dublin gigs in the future?
It was certainly crazy! It’s a completely mad experience playing to people that I’ve looked up to for so many years, and who are so successful and inspirational in their respective fields. I am looking forward to seeing if they will differ, but my gut is telling me they won’t, because at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of music lovers sharing a passion for some good tunes.
What’s your plan moving forward – will there be live shows, albums, EPs and tours? How do you plan to divide your time?
I sure hope so! That’s the plan anyway. Some of what I had planned has been disrupted slightly due to the current pandemic, which is something I know we’ve all been massively impacted by. Obviously, it’s difficult to understand how long this will last but I am in the process of adapting some of those plans to make them happen in other ways. My plan for dividing my time comes down to focus, I suppose. When there’s a will, there’s a way, and music is a big priority for me now.
You’re huge on social media. Do you think that makes much of a difference when it comes to launching pop songs?
I think it can help, but at the end of the day, I feel it comes down to the music standing on its own two feet. So far, I’ve been blown away by the response to the track and hope that will continue, with more people hearing it and enjoying it.
Can you tell me a little bit about your entrepreneurial side?
I’d love to! Aside from music, I am the founder of iGen Creative, a brand consultancy based in Ireland. As an entrepreneur, I have had the opportunity to travel internationally to conduct workshops in countries such as the US, Sweden and Germany, on topics including next-generation marketing & brand design fit for today’s digital economy.
I took some time off school when I was 16 due to ill health (I had a bunch of infections, Swine Flu, Glandular Fever and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), because my immune system was so low I couldn’t keep up, but subsequently never went back.
I started a fashion blog when I first got sick, aged 13, which became a huge creative outlet for me and opened a lot of doors in the fashion industry, but more importantly, it taught me many marketing skills that could serve other entrepreneurs.
So when I was 16 and off school, I spent every waking hour developing my marketing knowledge and realised my skill set was monetisable. That was the catalyst for the business I have today. I really believe that entrepreneurship provides a viable path to those who find themselves not fitting into the traditional box, to create their own opportunity and carve a career out of their skillsets/ passions.
No doubt you’re aware of the similarity between your name and feminist icon Kathleen Hanna. Is that a coincidence? I’d imagine I’m not the first to remark on it?
I am aware, but you are in fact the first person to bring it up!
What are your hopes for the future?
I am really excited to share more music; Little Miss Sunshine was a long time coming and is the stepping stone to so much more! I hope to perform more frequently but most importantly, I’d like to use my voice as a positive influence, and hopefully inspire others to chase their dreams too. Life is too short not to go for it.
Little Miss Sunshine by Hannah Kathleen is out now.