Championing music that is true to herself, 2015’s biggest upcoming talent Hannah Wants has further constituted herself as a force to be reckoned with. Her Radio 1 residency, bi-monthly mixtape series and her own international club night brand dubbed ‘What Hannah Wants’ have contributed to her solid placement in the higher ranks of the underground DJing scene.
In early 2016, Wants will be heading towards Mayrhofen to take part in one of Europe’s biggest festival openers: Snowbombing, where she’s sharing the bill with the likes of Jamie Jones, Groove Armada, Huxley, Kerri Chandler, Henrik Schwarz, Hot Since 82, Huxley and many more. Ahead of her performance we caught up with the UK trailblazer to talk about her old football aspirations, decisive career moments and why not everybody in the public eye needs to necessarily express their opinion on the issue of the day.
Your career choices were lingering between professional football and DJ’ing. It’s not like a law versus medicine type of career choice. What have your family’s opinions been on that? Have you received any advice on it from them?
My parents have literally always just left me to pursue whatever I wanted to in life. I guess I’ve never taken any what most people would consider to be perhaps ‘normal’ paths in life and my mom and dad have supported me through everything which I appreciate. Me being happy has always been their primary concern and in terms of careers I live my absolute dream so yeah, they’re happy, I’m happy, it’s all good!
It’s also amazing to be in a position whereby I can give back to my family, I work hard and it’s a great feeling to be able to do nice things whether that’s take them for a meal or buy them something or whatever.
“I don’t really miss anything other than my social life and by that I mean a normal social life like going to the cinema or for a meal”
Do you still incorporate a bit of football in your life?
No, I don’t have time but I wish I did. The last time I kicked a ball was in a back garden with some mates the morning after a whole night of partying. I’m not sure how I could still see but yeah, it was funny!
Your Twitter states your life is all about gigs, flights and jet lags. What is in between of that? What do you miss the most from your earlier days?
I don’t really miss anything other than my social life and by that I mean a normal social life like going to the cinema or for a meal. I rarely get time off and I’m so work orientated anyway (some people have used the word obsessed) I’ve found it hard to get the work / social life balance right but it’s something I’m working on.
In between the flights, gigs and jet lag… I work haha. That could be working on new music, promo checking, music searching, radio shows, emails (lots of emails!), organising and planning for the What Hannah Wants brand, the list is endless. There’s always something to do and I love that. And in between all of that I see my friends whenever I can. On the rare occasion I have a day off at home I like to sit on the sofa with my Sky remote and do absolutely nothing!
You are pointed as a DJ asserting yourself as a DJ first and foremost. Why do you think this distinction between just DJ’ing and DJ’ing and producing is important to emphasize nowadays?
Because the lines are so blurred now. DJ’ing and producing are two completely different skills and talents, yet lots of people think it’s the same thing. In a world where producers used to make tracks and pass it to DJ’s who played tracks it’s now the norm for people to get DJ bookings because they’ve made a big track but in terms of their ability to DJ they’re sometimes not up to a competent level. They’re just totally different things.
I started DJ’ing when I was 16. I didn’t start producing (properly) until I was about 24. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love making music, I love creating my own individual vibe on a track but my true passion is the art of DJ’ing and that’s all I mean when I say I’m a DJ first and foremost.
In a world where producers used to make tracks and pass it to DJ’s who played tracks it’s now the norm for people to get DJ bookings because they’ve made a big track but in terms of their ability to DJ they’re sometimes not up to a competent level.
In a tweet asking your stance on EDM you reply that you don’t want to get involved in these kind of discussions. Do you think the discussion around issues like these (commercialization vs ‘underground’) should be left for others to discuss than the artists?
No. People, whether they’re an artist or not can get into any discussion they want. It’s just something I choose not to do. My opinion is just as irrelevant as anyone else’s so I just don’t waste my time putting my two pence worth in on subjects that I either don’t really care for or that I’ll never change or impact on. Everything is what it is, just get on with it. I’d rather invest my time on myself and concentrate on my own game.
What are the decisive factors in preparing your gigs: the venue, the type of party, or something else?
I like to be as prepared as possible for my gigs, they’re super important to me and I take my job seriously. I like to make sure I get to the venue at least an hour before my set time so that I can check the venue out, see what the DJ is doing before me and start thinking about where I want to take my set. No gig or crowd is ever the same so it’s important to be ready.
What would you say has been the most crucial decision or moment that opened up the biggest opportunity for your career?
I’m really not sure there’s been one specific most crucial decision or moment you know. I guess a pivotal point in my career was going to spend the summer in Ibiza in 2010. I was at University and decided to just go for the summer to pursue my DJ dream and gain more experience. It gave me confidence and opened my first set of doors and things slowly but surely got bigger and better since then.
With whom did you have the best back to back set ever, where and why?
I DJ’d at Pikes in Ibiza (if you know about that place then you know!) and played an 80’s and 90’s classics sets. Anything from Madonna to Chaka Khan to Soul II Soul to Inner City… It was an absolute ball. One of my friends called Joshua ending up jumping on the decks with me and yeah, it was so much fun! In a normal setting I don’t go b2b unless it’s impromptu and just happens because of the vibe.
Who are your favourites at the moment? What would be the dream team line-up for Hannah Wants?
My favourite DJ’s to watch at the moment are Mele, Monki and of course DJ EZ. They’re all such strong talents behind the decks and provide the sickest vibe. So yeah… That’d be my dream line up. I could go on adding a load more of my fave artists as you’ve gave me no limit but I’ll keep it short and sweet! In fact no, I’ll add My Nu Leng too, I love those boys!
What has been the quintessential record from your childhood/teen years that got the ball rolling for you as a music lover and music professional?
It’d have to be a UKG or Speed Garage record. This was the kind of music I fell in love with growing up as a kid. One of my absolute faves is DJ Bigga G – Mind Body & Soul (4×4 Mix) – that track definitely helped increase my love for a bassline!