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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Red Lines: an interview with Danish musician Hannah Schneider

Hannah Schneider grew up surrounded by classical music, an influence which shines through the pop melodies on her third album, the first to be released in the UK. If you love the likes of Robyn you'll love Red Lines.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Hannah-Schneider-by-Essi-Kimpimaki
Hannah Schneider by Essi Kimpimaki.

Danish born Hannah Schneider comes from an illustrious musical heritage: her grandfather was famed violinist Alexander Schneider, a member of the celebrated Budapest String Quartet and her mother was a violinist with the Royal Danish Theatre. Coming from such a background it is unsurprising that Hannah is a ‘melody fanatic’ with an ear for a good tune and an innovative arrangement. Red Lines is her third album, a glorious miss mash of electronica and classical influences. Here she answers some revealing questions…

What are you up to today?
Right now I’m enjoying the last rays of sun outside on a café in Copenhagen, so right now I’m doing very well! I’m working a lot these days, getting ready for my album release, so a little break is very much appreciated.


How does Red Lines differ from your previous two albums?
My new album Red Lines is very “open” towards people compared to my last album. On Me vs. I (2012) I looked very much inwards, and worked with themes that were very personal. On my new album Red Lines I guess I’m looking out on the world and opening up a little more. This album is very much built by the different songs, more than an overall sound – I felt a great freedom in giving each song what it needed. Also I have gone from a “one-woman-army” who produced it all myself, to working with the two Danish producers Andreas “Maskinen” Sommer and Lasse Baunkilde, and of course that has changed the process a lot. I guess you can also actually hear a little more of a masculine sound mixed with my dreamy and feminine vocals. I like that mix. The songs have very different themes, and I have been inspired by everything around me – from a gripping Chinese contemporary art exhibit at the Hayward Gallery in London, to a lonesome walk in a storm in the Danish countryside. Since my last album, I had a baby girl, and I think that influences my writing a lot – not in the sense that the songs have all become lullabies or talks about diaper change, but more in the sense of the strength and empowerment it has made me feel to be a mother.

hannah_schneider
The album features quite a lot of synths and electronica, who are your influences in this area?
I’m quite the synthesiser geek – I love old synths, I often hunt small Casios down on flea markets, and spend a lot of time experimenting with synths and pedals. I also write most of my songs on keys/synths, and have production ideas just as fast as melody ideas. On this album we were inspired by the sound of the movie Drive – this 80′s cinematic, synths driven sound- but also very much by one of my great heroes Kate Bush.

There are a lot of classical musicians in your family, how do you think this has shaped your approach to music making?
I think very much in orchestral arrangements, I always have lots of strings, and my brother (cello) and sister (violin) always find their way into the productions. I think it is very much in my blood, thinking in classical melodic structures, and I still listen a lot to classical music.

Hannah Schneider by Carly Watts for Amelia's Magazine
Hannah Schneider by Carly Watts.

You have been described as a ‘melody fanatic’, is this where you start with your songwriting or if not, where do you start?
I love that description – makes me sound like a crazy-person – I think it refers to my great love for melodies that catches you- I try to work with that in my music. I have an extremely broad taste, and love very different kinds of artists, but the common denominator I think, is strong melodies. A tiny bit of melody hummed by someone can be so haunting, sad, interesting and lovely, and I’m fascinated by the structure of melody.

What’s the music scene like over in Denmark?
A lot of great artists right now, and a lot of strong female acts, setting the tone. I think that what we lack in size, we are starting to gain in originality – it seems there’s a “nordic sound” evolving these days..

Hannah_Schneider_2
Out of all the tracks on the album, which is your favourite?
I think the first track on the album, Butterfly Lovers, sums up the album very well- I wrote it with one of my favorite collaborators Kim Richey, in London last year. It was just a great process of writing – we had been to a Chinese Modern Art exhibit at Hayward Gallery on the Southbank, and there was this very scary and gripping lady who did a performance on this old Chinese myth about two lovers who cannot have each other, and the vibe of this story totally set us in motion.. I also really love the song Dreaming Kind – my tribute to the sensitive kinds of people (very much like myself) and the song Everything, that’s basically a happy song about realizing that the facts aren’t as grave as they seem..

If you could bring back one musician from the dead to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
I think I would have a whole festival of dead people!! But to name one, it would probably be Nick Drake – I think he’s absolutely gripping, and he died so young that he didn’t get to do a lot of records – I would love to pick his brain and see what we would come up with!

What’s the maddest thing a fan has ever done for you?
Travelled all the way to the US to see a show !

hannah_schneider-cover artwork
What are your forthcoming plans for the UK with this new album?
I just played a show in London, and I really enjoyed it – hopefully I’ll be back soon to play some shows – we’re working on a couple of opportunities right now. It is my first release in the UK, so in a sense I start all over- it will be fun to build up an audience from the ground- I love performing and working on my live set.

Red Lines by Hannah Schneider is out on the 27th of October on Lojinx in the UK.

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