INTERVIEW: Hannah Featherstone


 Hannah Featherstone


BASED in Paris and, as a former resident of Brighton…

PHOTO CREDIT: Alfredo Salazar

Hannah Featherstone has experienced diverse cultures, romance and eccentricity. Her music career, whilst less eventful, has been impacted by her time in France and the U.K. I was excited to learn more about Solo and working with Noémie Daval on its video. She talks about the song’s inspiration and whether we will see her perform in Britain this year.

I ask about Paris and how it suits her style; the artists she grew up listening to and some of the albums that have been important to her – and compelled/guided her own sound.


Hi, Hannah. How are you? How has your week been?

I’m very well, thanks.

My week has been great so far. I’ve been in the countryside in the centre of France; by a river and under the sun - touring with a British orchestra. It’s been fun to challenge myself to sing Classical pieces and I’ve really enjoyed working on orchestral arrangements my new songs.

A fine balance between relaxation and hard work!

PHOTO CREDITAlfredo Salazar Photography

For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?

 I’m Hannah Featherstone: a Pop-Jazz singer-songwriter; born in England and raised in France. I started my journey with music when I was really young - singing with gospel choirs and playing classical piano.

I later discovered Jazz singing. I’ve always enjoyed mixing styles and playing around with my voice and strange chords.

At university, I started composing my own material. Some of my housemates and family overheard what I was doing and encouraged me to get music out there.

That’s how it all started!

Solo is the new single. What is the song about and can you remember the moment it was written?

I wrote Solo five years ago in my apartment, in Paris, in a period of romantic confusion - that moment when you’re wondering whether to wait around or move on.

Instead of beating myself up about it, I just set my emotions to music and decided to enjoy a time of restless, yet peaceful, solitude.   

Its video is online – looks like it was interesting to shoot. How was it shot because it looks like it employs some unusual visuals/techniques?

It was a bit of an experiment for all of us.

We borrowed a good camera, good lights and figured that, with a simple idea and clear direction, we could do a cool video. I teamed up with Estienne Rylle (who I also collaborated with for the music arrangement) and Noémie Daval for the ‘glitch art’ - which is creating digital errors by corrupting data.

Estienne directed the shoot and did the editing, incorporating Noémie’s glitch work into the pictures.

PHOTO CREDITAlfredo Salazar

Noémie Daval provides the look and effects on the video. How did you come to meet her and will you be working together again?

We met in an artist evening at a church in Paris, became friends and started working together on various projects. I took part in her project on synaesthesia called Ce Que Mes Yeux Ont Entendu (what my eyes have heard). She asked me to write a few vocal pieces that she turned into works of visual art.

We definitely plan to work on more projects together. Some are already in the pipeline…

I believe Solo is the current song from your upcoming album. What can you tell me about the album?

It’s a twelve-track album coming out later this year called Word Bound - centred on my piano and voice. I wanted to keep it quite bare in its style so the Electro sounds complement the voice - and the drums by David Allevard give the songs a nice strong groove.

The album centres around the question of what lies beyond words and beyond the representations we have of the world and people around us.

PHOTO CREDIT: Alfredo Salazar

You teamed up with Estienne Rylle for the album. What was it like working with him and what does he bring to the music?

I actually met Estienne at the point where there had been a few setbacks in getting the album recorded - when I was on the verge of giving up on the album after a few failed attempts at getting it recorded.

He was able to convince me to stick at it and see it through.. I don’t regret it one bit. He was able to get me through the final stages and really grasped the sound I was looking for. He’s a talented young artist and it’s been a privilege to work with him.

Paris is where you are based. What is the city like for music and how inspiring are its people?

Paris is a buzzing city and it’s great to be part of a culture that encourages art and creativity.

I’ve been living there for six years and I’ve enjoyed getting together with friends; stumbling upon bars that play live music and going to great concert venues.

PHOTO CREDIT: Guergana Damianova 

There’s so much going on: it’s easy to feel lost though. Paris does remind you of how small you really are!

It seems like you are at home in Paris. Any temptation to come back to England (where you were born)?

To be honest; I have been thinking about it.

I’ve always felt torn between the two countries. For the time being, Paris is where I want to be - but I definitely will be moving at some stage…to England, or elsewhere! Who knows…?!

What has been the best gig you have played in France?

Playing at the L’Olympia has been one of the highlights.

Not only because it’s the most iconic venue in Paris but, also, because I played there alongside friends as the opening act for Gregory Turpin.

But I’ve actually also found the living-room concerts I’ve done just as memorable. They’ve all been unique and it’s a real treat to be in such direct contact with the audience.

How important is the French language; the styles and cultures and different genres played in the city to your music and creativity?

As I was raised speaking both languages at once: I have a tendency to mix and match expressions from both languages. Although it could be seen as a hindrance to writing lyrics; I think it probably means I can play around with expressions and ideas a little more - by tapping into the other language.

As for the genre; I wouldn’t say that the French style has impacted me all that much. Chanson Française is mostly based on strong texts. I’d actually say living in Brighton for a few years had a greater impact on that front.

Can you tell me about the type of music you grew up listening to? Was music a big influence when you were young?

I come from a musical family - so music has always been a big influence.

I would listen to Bach, Phil Collins; Whitney Houston, Arvo Part; Bobbi McFerrin. As the rest of my family was so talented, I was often tempted just to let them get on with the musical stuff. So I did try to get away from it all. But it kept catching up with me.

I eventually decided to give it a real go myself.

What does the rest of the year hold in terms of plans and further music?

I’ll be releasing a few other tracks and videos before I get the album out in November (sometime).

I look forward to composing again as I haven’t been able to get down to that for a while.

Are there any tour dates coming up? Any opportunity to see you in the U.K.?

I’ve got a set of festivals and living-room concerts coming up in Holland, Germany and Brussels throughout August - and I’ll be doing some more in France in the autumn.

I’m also planning a few gigs in the U.K. in the near-future - I’ll keep you posted online…

IN THIS PHOTO: Charlotte & Magon

Can you reveal whether there are any new artists you recommend we check out?

I’d recommend you check Charlotte & Magon: a duo based in Paris that I met a few months back.

Great music and beautiful people!

PHOTO CREDIT: Alfredo Salazar

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Camille Le Fil

For its insanity and originality.

Fiona AppleWhen the Pawn…              

For its raw power.

And any album from Lauryn Hill

For her soul and swag.

What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?

Surround yourself with people you trust and don’t be swayed by what people want you to be!

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Laura MvulaGreen Garden


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