Interview: Hannah Dorman



Hannah Dorman


IT has been wonderful watching great artists develop and mature….

and really start to spread their wings.  In this country, there are a lot of great young acts breaking through; offering terrific sounds- and taking the scene by storm.  When it comes to (the young) female acts, there is a high degree of richness and variation: from electronic sounds and genre-spicing; solid Pop and Rock; terrific Soul sounds- it is hard to ignore the quality of material (coming through).  I have known about Hannah Dorman for a while now: her music fuses Country and Rock; sounds of the U.S. – Kelly Clarkson; The Pretty Reckless and the U.K. – the likes of KT Tunstall count as influences.  Having caught the attention of radio stations, producers and venues- picking up blog kudos and effusive reviews along the way- Dorman ranks as one of the most promising young talents on the scene.  Country-Rock is not often attempted (by young U.K. talent); it a shame more do not attempt it- as Dorman has shown, it can lead to some tremendous results.  Mature and emotive, catchy and addictive; Dorman matches heady rhythms with nuanced lyrics- that combustible talent is catching ears and hearts.  Take Control– the next single from the young singer- is released on October 16th.  Launching the single at World’s End, Finsbury Park (the official release venue), it will be an exciting event: one sure to attract new fans and support; lead to lucrative gigs and some extended airplay- Dorman is already accruing some impressive patronage.  With all that has happened this year- gigs and Take Control afoot; radio play and new music- I was keen to catch up; see what the future holds- and what has been the best memories (from 2015 so far)…

Hi Hannah.  How has your week been?  What have you been getting up to? 

Hi, Sam, good thanks!  Very busy as always, but that’s the way I like it to be!  I’ve been working towards the single release.

Your new song Take Control is coming up for release.  What can you tell us about its inspiration and contents? 

I wrote the song about a big decision a friend made; saying they don’t need to rush into anything, and how they need to ‘take control’ of the situation- and think about what they’re doing.  The chorus is basically saying ‘you think I’m okay with this but I’m actually not’.  But as always, the song can be interpreted in multiple ways!

Having heard the track, it is a great fusion of Country and Rock; confident and dramatic.  Do you think that- mixing genres and emotions together- leads to better (and more memorable) music? 

If I’m honest I just write and whatever comes out comes out!  I was told my voice has country elements to it, and the band really bring the rock.  It’s nice to have something slightly different that makes people sit up and listen; even if it’s not the brief I set out with (as there’s generally no brief!).

With regards your influences and idols: which artists have been particularly important to you- with regards your musical upbringing? 

When I was little my late grandparents lived in Padstow, Cornwall (which was a 5-hour journey) and I would insist we’d play Anastasia, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne (and other artists like them).  I’d sing the whole journey (even though at the time I wasn’t a very good singer).  These artists (as well as) others like Delta Goodrem, Alanis Morissette, No Doubt and Kelly Clarkson were played around the house when I was younger!

Take Control– and your back catalogue- is defined by its tight sound and stunning interplay.  It sounds like you and the band have a great chemistry.  How long have you guys known one another? 

Thank you!  I went to A.C.M. with this lineup- me Jack and Jon (bass and guitar) were in the same performance classes- so we were used to performing with one another, and they were already in a band with Kamil (drums) – so the dynamic works really well.  And we all get on, which definitely helps!

Can you give us a glimpse into 2016: any new music/E.P.s coming from you? 

I’m currently writing a lot, with intentions of more music in 2016… so watch this space!

I often ask musicians this question: what inspires your songwriting and creative process?  Do you have to be in a particular mood/mindset or do songs come from dreams/off-the-cuff moments? 

I generally have to be sad to write, but I’m trying to break out of that as I’m in a good place at the moment!   I’ll sit down with my guitar and usually I’ll get one hook, or one line- which I’ll work the rest of the song around.  I’ll have about 4 songs on the go at once as I’ll get bored of one idea and then move on to the next, and so on- then probably come out with 1 song and 3 unfinished ideas; I have so many voice memos on my phone of rubbish!

You are based in Surrey- and have London pretty close-by- where there are fewer music venues/opportunities?  Can you see yourself relocating/moving to a larger city in the coming years? 

Surrey is great.  I’ve lived in Surrey my whole life and it’s beautiful.   Regards to music I think there are a lot of opportunities here, if you look for them.  I went to A.C.M. which is the heart of so many talented musicians and contacts- I wouldn’t have had living somewhere else, but London can be quite saturated.  If my career moves me, then I’ll move with it, but for the moment I’m happy!

Your fans on social media seem to connect with your music.  How important has social media been with regards your music career? 

Social media has been 100% essential to me and my fans.  I launched a Kickstarter campaign for my last E.P.- and because of my fans and the relationship I have with them on social media- I was able to fund the recording of my last E.P.   I love keeping up-to-date on social media: whether it’s just a photo to say ‘hi’, or a funny video (that made my day), I think it’s a great way of the fans getting a glimpse of artist’s lives (which helps get to know them better).

Few of the female artists coming through play in the Country-Rock field.  What would you say to any female songwriters wanting to follow your example? 

Stick to your guns, write original music and keep plugging away!

You clearly have a tremendous passion for music and performing.  Take Control has just been featured as BBC Introducing (South)’s Track of the Day.  What have been your highlights from 2015? 

Yeah that was definitely a highlight!  Just the whole recording process and putting out a record.  When things go right, it’s amazing!  Don’t get me wrong, as any artist will know, 95% of the time things are going wrong; but what’s the fun if everything runs smoothly?  I love the journey of having a song and creating everything to go with it- the music, the imagery, the video- then seeing people’s reactions. Those are the highlights for me.

Modern music is defined by its financial pressures and stiff competition.  How have you managed to stay strong and focus- against the tide of tough competition? 

I look back to the 3-year-old singing in front of the T.V. to Top Of The Pops who would say ‘Mummy, I’m gonna be on that show one day’.  She didn’t have any doubts; and at the age of 3, something in me knew it was possible to make it onto the big screen…how can I let little Hannah down?

For those new to Hannah Dorman, can you tell us a secret (something you have never told another interviewer)? 

I’m a mean knitter!

Finally- and for being a good sport- you can select any song (and I’ll include it here) – why is it special to you? 

On the nostalgic theme… No Doubt ‘Don’t Speak’, because I sang it when I was 3! (Here’s the vid, I’m happy for you to feature it!!)



Take Control bristles with vigour and directness.   Beginning with a Rock-infused introduction, the mood starts to come down: Dorman steps into the spotlight.  Elongating and stretching her voice, the messages coming through loud and clear.  Backed by her band cohorts, our heroine has some clear advice: if you want to do it for yourself (and keep in control), then it is within your reach.  Motivational and uplifting, this (inspiring coda) is supported by a passionate and soulful vocal- Dorman sounds rich and filled with intent.  As the song progresses, some doubts creep in: whether (the subject) is trying their hardest; truly alright.  Letting her voice hit (crystalline highs) and soar upwards, you get a real sense of imagery and story: imagining someone lacking that extra self-confidence; demure and reserved somewhat.  Letting Dorman’s voice shine, the band provides ample support: the performance is consistently tight and strong.  Never encroaching into the mix, the boys ensure they drive the song forward (the percussion is particular noteworthy and punchy) – there is a clear bond and understanding (between the players).  Enraptured in her own tale, Dorman’s voice shine beautifully: switching between delicate swoon and belting highs; natural and genuine with each gear change.  When speaking of intentions- saying one thing yet doing another- there is a real longing in the vocal (as though Dorman has had her heart broken; been let down by someone).  Making sure notes and lines (stick in the mind) the track- and chorus especially- is a catchy and swaying affair- mixing U.S. Country sunshine with British Rock granite.  That summer-cum-rain juxtaposition blends superbly: at one moment you are smiling widely; the next rooting for our heroine.  The track has a great sense of rhythm, movement and dynamic: going down to a soften kiss; building up to a fevered chant.  Towards the latter stages, Dorman keeps her focus clear: that chorus is re-injected and repeated- its messages designed to resonate and affect.  As the band whip up the decibels (for one last round) you find yourself longing (to repeat the song) – it has a sense of brevity and tease (in spite of it being nearly 4 minutes long).  Closest in tone (to songs like Rent This Space) Dorman sounds comfortable and assured when powering and soaring- expanding on the promise of her previous E.P.  Take Control has oomph and panache; that killer touch and sweet touch- topped off with a tight-knit (band performance) and stunning lead vocal.  Keep the language and lyrics direct and simple (yet complete with originality, depth and wisdom), Dorman is a wise head on young shoulders: someone who knows how to win a smile with as few words as possible.  The song’s music video will be released soon: a great opportunity to see Dorman in the flesh; what images and scenes are conjured- from the evidence here; it will be arresting watch!

Words sourced from review of Take Control (Live Version):

Take Control is released on October 16th.



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