YouTube sensation and self-taught singer-songwriter, Hannah Trigwell, began her career busking streets in her hometown of Leeds. This humble beginning, aligned alongside her cumulative internet following, crafted the young artist into the ‘The People’s Popstar;’ a nickname ITV’s ‘Lorraine’ would go on to lovingly deem her. Now, with over 100 million views, 600,000 followers, and numerous worldwide Top Ten Hit Singles, Trigwell’s career appears to be on an astonishing and well-deserved rise.
Following the success of her sold-out headlining tour of the United Kingdom in October of 2017, Trigwell is releasing her album RED on August 31st. Preparing to begin her next tour in September, Trigwell filled us in about from where she garners her inspirations, YouTube as a musical platform, her experience with busking, how she learned to play guitar, and of course, her greatly anticipated album, RED!
You have a new album coming out August 31st made up of original songs. Can you tell us about the album and the inspiration behind the title RED?
The album title really sums up the subjects of the songs – I’ve written a lot about love, lust, anger, jealousy… so ‘RED’ is what I was seeing in my head when thinking about the album visuals. There is also a track on the album called “Red,” which is about an addiction to someone or something! The album is full of emotionally-charged songs, there are quite a range of sounds, but all of the songs involve guitars and synths, so I would describe it as acoustic-driven pop.
There are two singles available to hear now – “Is It Wrong” and “Everything Will Be OK.” I watched your YouTube video about the inspiration for these two songs. The first song was inspired by the internet and how easy it is to track someone via social media. Can you elaborate on that?
I had been watching the Netflix series ‘Black Mirror’ which is about technology, the internet and the way it is changing our society, and that had me in a pretty dark headspace about social media. I’ve written a song before about stalking called ‘Give It Up,’ but never specifically about stalking on the internet. After watching ‘Black Mirror’ and talking with friends about how easy it is to watch what old friends or exes are currently up to (via Facebook), I wrote a few lines of this song ‘Is it wrong if I scroll through / Is it wrong if I watch you?’ and the rest followed shortly after!
The second song, “Everything Will Be OK,” you mentioned in the video really speaks to you. What is it about this song that touches you?
Like a few of the other songs on the album, this is written about a specific moment that I experienced, so it’s always going to be a bit raw I think. It’s a happy song really – it’s about feeling really broken but having someone you love say ‘everything will be okay’ and making everything feel instantly a little less terrible.
So, I would say that focused time ‘working on the album’ as in recording and tweaking was on and off for around a year. The oldest song on the album, I wrote about six years ago! But I wouldn’t say I’ve been working on the album for six years. A hell of a lot has happened since then – I only decided to make an album at the start of last year, but it’s something I’d always dreamed of doing.
You also said that the song “Everything Will Be Okay” is different from a lot of your other original work because this one has a happy ending and that you like writing sad songs. What is your songwriting process and why are drawn to sad songs?
I think writing sad songs will always be what I naturally write. I really love writing emotional songs – being able to convey a feeling and connect with people through music is what drew me to songwriting, and I think I just find it harder to connect through happy music. When I’m happy, I’m just living life and having a good time; sad times eventually lead me to my guitar to flush out whatever is on my mind.
YouTube has been a great outlet for you in advancing your career. You talk about the fact that 12 years ago when you started your YouTube channel, the platform was still developing. Do you feel that it is still a good platform for artists to promote their music?
It’s still a great platform for sure. It’s not ‘new’ anymore, there are a lot of people sharing music on there now, but as an artist to have a solid YouTube presence as part of your arsenal is pretty important I think. It’s a great way to connect with international audiences too and is still the most popular long-form video platform. So, for music videos and behind the scenes videos, I think it’s a great way to communicate.
As an independent artist that has gained a solid fan base, what advice would you offer to a young artist seeking to get their music heard?
I would say: Just do it. Seriously. Pretty much everyone has access to a camera phone, just film videos on the fly, upload them. If you do it consistently and improve as you go, people will find you.
What artists have influenced your music? From your YouTube channel, you cover a lot of different artists from Cher to John Legend to Jeff Buckley/Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
I love Phil Collins. His style of drumming and songwriting have influenced me a lot. I also love Tove Lo’s style. I’m influenced by a lot of different types of music – I would say Norah Jones is one of the artists that really got me into songwriting in the first place.
You attribute busking to giving you the confidence to handle difficult situations and to become a better performer. Can you share with us a memorable moment from your busking experience?
Once when I was busking in Leeds and Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs came up to throw some money in the case, and he said ‘you sound amazing’ – that was pretty cool! Definitely a confidence booster.
A red Blue Moon acoustic-electric was your first guitar which your parents bought. How has your collection evolved since that time?
Ahh, yes. I loved that guitar. I had a Taylor 614ce for a few years and now I have three Faith guitars, all different shapes and woods – my favorite being the Faith Neptune HiGloss. I also have an American Standard Fender Telecaster and a custom Flaxwood Ratio electric guitar. My Flaxwood is special. It feels amazing; it’s nice and light and has a real range of sounds. I never thought an electric guitar could fit my body or my sound so well, but it’s just perfect.
When did you start playing guitar and did you take lessons or were you self-taught?
I think I had one lesson when I was very young, but I couldn’t get into it. I taught myself through YouTube videos and the Ultimate Guitar website – learning my favorite songs first made the whole process a lot easier. I also found it helpful to start learning on a nylon string acoustic guitar, before moving onto a steel string guitar – it’s just a bit less brutal on your fingers.
You’re heading out on a UK tour in September. Any plans to make it to the US?
I would LOVE to perform in the US. I know there are a lot of people there that want to see me play live, so I’m working hard to make that happen! The UK tour starts in Glasgow before moving south, and then we’ll be heading to mainland Europe. I have a few more international dates to announce soon, too! It’s going to be an awesome year for sure.