Hannah Judson is an internationally touring American/French singer-songwriter based near Paris on the Ile de France. She performs original indie folk rock songs that draw her audience into lyrically potent narratives constructed with electric guitar and percussive vocals, live looping harmonies and rhythmic layers. Hannah’s vocals are intimate, with a modern folk sound reminiscent of Cat Power, Lucinda Williams and Elliott Smith. Noted as “the real deal” by UK’s country music Maverick Magazine, and “with a style that channels Elliott Smith” by Indie Country fm radio, Hannah has appeared regularly in Paris, Europe and the US. Her 2020 EP release Stingray reflects a shedding of past styles, and creative restraints, that cleared room where both tendencies toward spacious lyrical environments, and straight on rock co-exist in a unified collection. She was on tour in 2019 to support this record. Hannah was active on the alternative music scene in Chicago that circled around the School of the Art Institute (where she studied painting and sound) and Wicker Park. In Chicago she was a continuous member of folk, grunge and alt/rock bands, as the songwriter and lead vocalist. She produced and hosted GrrrlsRock events at Beat Kitchen. In 2014 she founded MUSEfest, an international event to support inspirational women in music, film and art. In 2018 she started working with Boneyard Records in Sacramento, CA. She is currently Director of Music for the LA Fashion Festival (LAFF). She has an MBA in music business from Berklee College of Music/SNHU. She currently performs with Charlie Galunic (Professor at INSEAD) on lead guitar, and Brian Clevinger (Absynth Creator) on bass.
What is your earliest memory of music? And, how did you get started in music?
That's a great question. There was always music on in my parents house. They listened to a wide variety of music, and my father was an amateur musician. He had various instruments laying around the house -- a clarient, flute, a lute, a harpsichord he built, a crumhorn, recorders, and more. I think one of my earliest memories is sitting at my grandmother's baby grand piano, and pressing down on the keys, marveling at the associated sound when the hammer hits the string. What was the first song you ever wrote? What or who inspired you to start writing music? When I first graduated from college, I moved to Portland Maine. I spent my first paycheck from my first job on a guitar from Buckdancer's Choice. I still have picks from them. I also bought a Bob Dylan songbook. I went home, strummed out a few songs, and then lost interest in learning his. I sat on my mattress on the floor and wrote my own.
Do you play any instruments? If yes tell us about it. If not, do you work with a band or studio musicians? Do you produce your tracks or work with a producer? I play the guitar. My go-to is a Fender Telecaster. I don't consider myself a guitarist. I play the guitar to write songs, and to perform solo. I grew up playing instruments. First the violin (which I wished was a guitar), then the clarinet (to play in the school band), and then harpsichord and piano. I have played the bass in a band in Chicago, which was a great experience. But I am really happy to be working with the guitar. There is always more to learn. What is your favorite part about being an artist (performing, recording, writing, playing)?
I like the independence of being a creator. You take what you have and transform it into something new. Being an artist isn't about repeated past successes. It is about seeing where the current work takes you. I shock myself sometimes with the things that fall out of my mouth as I am writing. A lot gets deleted, but somethings are just gems from something bigger than yourself. Being an artist is about discovery. Do you have any advice for young women pursuing music?
Never, ever stop. Don't stop for people who belittle your dreams. Don't stop for people who ignore you, who don't get you, who want to control you. On the days or even seasons when it seems like nothing good is happening with your music, don't stop. When people tell you they love what you do, thank them, and don't stop. You are most likely your own worst critic. Get used to telling yourself to step back and get out of the way of your creative journey. For readers who have never heard your music, can you suggest one or two songs to start with? Yes! First, please follow me on Spotify for upcoming drops! My best songs from the quarantine will be released as singles. I am so pleased with them. I had to really fight for them. It didn't come easily, but the songs are my favorites. This year I released a record Stingray. All the songs are really worthy, but please listen to Got a Thing for You. It's a little different, toe tapping, love song.
What do you feel your strengths are as an artist?
My lyrics create the universe I am sharing with my fans. I work with words to paint scenes, to describe people, situations, snippets of conversations. I love words. Individual words, and all them strung together to make a song.
Tell us where fans can access your music.