Labels tend to release albums from new artists in January. I’m not quite sure what the thinking is behind this scheme, but perhaps bosses feel it’s more beneficial to release these records during a slow time of the year. Whatever the reason may be, FOE (aka Hannah Clark) has seized this opportunity to share a brilliant record with the world.
We’ve followed Hannah’s work over the years, and we can confidently say that Bad Dream Hotline is exactly what a debut album should be. It flows effortlessly, it has singles that don’t overshadow the rest of the disc, and most importantly, it brings us a new favourite track with each listen.
We recently had a chat with Hannah via e-mail. Read on for her thoughts about the project’s inception, life in a commuter town, remixing, and life on the road.
You can find her debut album at your local record shop.
1. You’ve been making music for several years through a variety of outlets, including Arthur, Hannah Shark, and now with FOE. When did you first pick up an instrument? What do you find to be the most appealing thing about writing your own music?
I started learning classical guitar around 7 years old, and got piano lessons a couple of years later. So I was pretty young, but I had always been enthusiastic about music since I can remember. I started playing more chord based stuff on guitar when I was about 13, and had started getting into Nirvana and P.J. Harvey. I know it sounds lame, and everybody says it, but writing music really is a means of expression for me. If I’m pent up about anything, writing and singing about it is like a huge release. I don’t talk much, because I’m not very good at it, but writing helps me get my shit out.
2. How do your surroundings in Fleet inspire you as a person and musician? How has it been limiting?
I wouldn’t say Fleet was an inspiration, but more that it’s dullness has forced me to try and find something magical. Personally, it’s made me a lot more focused on my music. If I didn’t have that, I’d be hanging out with OAPs and god only knows what else! I ended up writing a lot about the suburbs, family life, what goes on behind closed doors (in my imagination), etc. Also feeling lonely, which I feel a lot living here. I have a love/hate relationship with this place, which I think is good for me in a creative sense. Having said that, I think it’s time for me to move, but I’m still deciding where.
3. Tell us about the formation of Bad Dream Hotline. When did the album start coming together? Do you have a favourite song on the record?
Bad Dream Hotline is really just an introduction to FOE. It’s made up of songs that I wrote three years ago when I started the project, songs that I wrote last summer, and everything in between. I wanted my debut to reflect all my styles of writing, and be made up of songs that were most personal to me. I don’t really have a favourite. My songs are like my babies, all equal, all necessary. One thing tying all the songs together was lyrics relating to things I have experienced in dreams and nightmares, hence the title of the album. I am currently working on my next one, which is going to be a lot more focused.
4. How has the road treated you? Who makes up your band and how have they contributed to the songwriting process? What are some of your favourite places to play?
Touring is great, I absolutely love it, it’s like an escape from reality. The band is currently Callum Buckland aka Kazland (one of my closest Fleet pals), Adam Crisp aka Entrepreneurs (produces all my stuff), and James Headley aka James Deadly (played drums for one of my favourite bands, Elle Milano). I write all the music, so the guys learn their parts from my crappy bedroom demos. I am not responsible for some of the sweet chops and guitar solos that appear in the live show though! That’s down to them! I love playing and experiencing all this with them, they are very important to me. Highlights in terms of venues for me have been Bush Hall, Nottingham Rock City, and The Kazimier in Liverpool. I’m probably forgetting places, but any show can be great when the vibe is good. We did a show in Fleet recently in my friend’s workshop. It was a pretty grotty room, but the vibe was amazing.
5. Who are some of the bands you’ve gigged with? Any memorable stories you’d like to share?
We’ve played with quite a random selection of bands, including Glasvegas, Atari Teenage Riot, and Metronomy, but my favourite band we’ve played with recently are called Fever Fever. They are a three piece from Norwich, made up of two girls and a guy. I just think they are rad! Maybe I’m biased because they are two thirds female! I probably would have memorable stories if I hadn’t been too drunk to remember them!
6. You’ve been at both ends of a remix – both as a remixer and a remixee. Are there any artists that you fancy remixing?
I’ve actually never done a remix myself, but I am currently working on my first one! It’s for a duo called Bluebell, one half a good friend of mine miss Annabel Jones. I’m gonna see how this goes, and I may end up doing more. I’m not sure how I feel about remixes, I sort of feel like a song should be left alone in it’s original state.
7. Lastly, it’s been a tumultuous time for the music industry as of late. If it were up to you, what’s one improvement that you’d make?
I’d say labels should stop quickly signing acts on hype when they aren’t ready. I dunno, I try not to get too carried away with the business side of things. As long as people keep making good music, things will be fine. Maybe I’m naive…