A new round of support from The PPL Momentum Music Fund, in partnership with Creative Wales, was recently announced to help up and coming UK artists break through to the next level of their careers. Artists who have received it in the past, including Sam Fender, Adwaith and NOVA TWINS have gone on to win BRTs Critic’s Choice produce Mercury Prize nominated albums and top twenty chart placements.
23-year-old Hana Lili is an indie pop/rock, Welsh singer-songwriter who recently supported Coldplay on their world tour, Tom Grennan, and had a song featured on Love Island. Hana who released her Existential EP earlier this year will be using the fund to record her new EP with a full supporting band for the first time.
Hana recently spoke to Andy Howells about her career so far.
Tell us about your forthcoming releases?
I’ve been working over the summer, going into the studio with a band and recording with them. It was made possible by the PPL Momentum fund and Creative Wales. So yeah, exciting!
Its songs that I’ve written over the past year. I’m looking forward to putting them out. The first single will be coming out sometime mid-October and the rest to follow in the New year.
The sound has evolved over the past EP’s. The goal with this one is to go fuller band. It’s inspired by doing so much live stuff. You want to create something a bit more energetic.
Due to the PPL Momentum Fund, we were able to go in with the band which is different from the last EP’s. So that’s exciting. It’s always been a dream of mine to go into a studio with a band and record them and boss them around a little bit. (Laughs) No, don’t tell them that. It was really such a fantastic experience to make the records and be able to have the space to record the band!
Can you tell me a little bit about the music?
The music is in line with the genre of Indie pop rock, influenced massively by the Cardigans, No Doubt and Blondie. The songs tend to discuss situations that I go through, hardships.
Song writing’s always been that place that I go to, where it allows me to understand my feelings. It’s that escapism that I’ve always turned to when I go, “I’m feeling this certain type of way”, or “I want to write about something that I’m going through.” Song writing’s always been that process of understanding my emotions. Then a song comes out of it that way.
How have you got to know the band?
They’re all local to Cardiff and we’ve been playing live together for a couple of years. I met them through the Cardiff scene. Dale, Jack, and Theo are great. It’s like having 3 older brothers, which is great, because I don’t have any brothers. It’s just like being with great friends and I think that helps on stage, so, you can just have so much fun together.
How did you get into song writing?
I started song writing around the age of 14. I grew up competing in the Eisteddfod, so, had a love for music from a very young age, being on stage and just absolutely falling in love with it.
I think when I was around 14, I thought I had boy problems, I didn’t (laughs), but I started writing about it. It was the one thing that just clicked like, “I understand this.” In a world where you’re trying to understand your emotions all the time. It was somewhere I could go “this makes sense” and just completely fell in love with it from there. It’s always been a need, not a want. I can’t help but write songs.
Did this form of self-expression help you through your teens?
100%, and it still is. The process of been in writing sessions or writing by yourself allows you to understand your emotions better. You can turn a painful situation or something hard to deal with, and help other people resonate with it, also, it’s a way of putting it into art.
It’s always about silver lining which is so rare and amazing to have. Turn it into something that you love for sure. Definitely a good way for me to understand the old brain.
When did you realise that this was something you really wanted to do?
When I was younger, we used to go to this caravan site, and it’s a bit of a random story, but they would have like an open mic every year, and I remember one year I went up. I must have been about 13, when I picked up the guitar and played a couple of covers.
The following morning, I turned around to my parents and said, “I’m leaving school now and going off to do music.” My parents, said “You can’t leave school at 13!” But I remember that pinnacle moment of “this is just what I want to do!”
I didn’t leave school, but I decided to do music from that point!
How do you handle the social media aspect of your music?
The crazy thing about it is that you can connect with so many people doing live shows. Then you have people follow you, reach out and say, “You know, this song has really helped me in this time.” As an artist it’s a feeling I didn’t know I could have, and it’s so insane.
To be able to connect to people outside of gigs, that they might have listened to the music online, or that they’ve come to a show, and they’ve messaged. It’s such a fantastic feeling.
It’s a fantastic tool. and allows artists to express who they are authentically. I think that’s the main thing, an artist being authentic to you. It’s easier that way and realising you can’t or don’t have to be perfect. That’s completely fine, and sometimes better.
You have performed in both Welsh and English?
The music that’s released is English language and I’ve been performing in the English language.
But being Welsh was such a big part of my identity growing up, so performing at Tafwyl is amazing. I get my mum and dad to help me translate the songs, so thank you, mum and dad for that!
Earlier this year, you were called on to support Coldplay when they played Cardiff. Your dad thought it was a bit of a scam?
(Laughs) At first, he was super cynical, “ignore it, it’s a scam. They’re going to take all your credit card details!” I was like, “Yeah, that’s cool. I’ll answer, just in case!”
it was humbling, but great. It was awesome. It’s such a good thing that Coldplay have local acts from the countries they visit support them. It’s amazing because, you’re in front of so many people. It’s just such a fantastic experience as an artist to connect with people.
Was that the biggest crowd you performed to?
Let me think (laughs) I would say so. Most definitely, but I think weirdly, I wasn’t nervous. That’s the only place where I’m most comfortable. The main thing we’re telling ourselves, and my dad said this to me, “play the game, not the occasion”. Which is essentially, “Go on there. Music is what I know. Make the most of everything, and just enjoy it.” I think that’s cool.
Not to over perform or try something completely new. Just enjoy the experience. You just want to give people a great show and hopefully they have a good time watching it. So yeah, a lot of rocking out! A lot of good fun.
Did you find your social following started creeping up after the gig?
It’s just awesome, the opportunity to connect with people. Suddenly you have people reaching out and saying that songs have connected or helped them and that they’ve had a great time.
As an artist, it’s the most insane feeling, in that you can give somebody connectivity the same way I look at other artists and connect with them. It’s just the amazing thing about music. Like the Coldplay show, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a fantastic live show before, although he (Chris Martin) was in front of 80,000 people, you were just in the room with him. That’s just such a massive testament to how good a band they are as well,
Obviously, you’re a rising star on the Welsh music scene. It’s quite a happening scene now, do you enjoy listening to other Welsh bands?
I love Gwillam. They’re such a fantastic Welsh band. Alffa are fantastic and Mellt are great, I love their music, and it’s such an exciting scene now. it’s really changed from being just Welsh music to people understanding that there’s genres and different styles of music within the Welsh language scene.
It’s always great to watch Welsh language and seeing how that invites people in, because it’s not just about it being Welsh language, but that it is for everyone. Everyone can come and enjoy it within Wales. It’s cool.
Do you have any advice to anyone setting out as a singer or band?
I would say a couple of things. The main thing is to be authentic. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be a certain way or a certain type of person. Just be you and enjoy writing for you. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that’s fine as well.
Also, I think within Wales, there’s so many exciting places and hubs you can go to as a new artist. There’s the whole scene of music in Cardiff with Clwb Ifor Bach.
You’ve obviously got funding, such as PPL momentum, and Creative Wales are fantastic. Do not be afraid to go to gigs, meet people and take advantage of the funding and opportunities in Wales.
That’s good advice. You’re concentrating a lot on the music, have you got anything else in the background that you’re working on?
Its music, music, music, which I’m completely fine with. I don’t think I could do much of anything else. It’s just been a busy summer with a lot of gigs and live shows which I love.
I’m just working on the next releases which I’m excited about. I’ve been working in the studio with a producer called Jez Ashurst on the next couple of singles which will eventually become an EP and working with the band is exciting! Loving it!