Hillary Hahn is from Independence, Kentucky. She has been performing on stages since age five as a dancer and in her dad’s bluegrass band, The Recliners!
Since 2013 she has been performing as a solo act musician; playing keyboard, guitar and singing covers and original tunes in bars and restaurants all over Cincinnati and Kentucky. She has performed her original music and lyrics on stages from Brooklyn, New York to Nashville, Tennessee to Boulder, Colorado. She has also performed as a dancer/ actor in productions of Chicago, Tarzan, Tommy and several other new musicals where she has written the music and lyrics in addition to performing in both the ensemble and as a lead. She is thrilled to be promoting her debut record, Walking in Cleveland (recorded in Kenwood, Ohio at Eagle Overhead Sound.) Anyone who would like to know more details about Hillary’s several upcoming projects should follow her on social media!
Instagram handle: @hillaryhahnmusic
Facebook music page: https://www.facebook.com/hillhahn/
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
I think my tunes would best fall under the ROCK N ROLL genre. I grew up listening to the very raw sounds and lyrics of Neil Young and Lynrd Skynrd (to name a few) and I can't help but feel like they might dig a tune or two off this record- particularly, "Don't Be Scared, Be Ready." I am wildly proud of all the tunes, but especially that one.
My sound? I think my sound is pretty versatile and interesting. I hear all my biggest influences around every bend of this record. I'm a big fan. You should check it out!
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
My parents gave it to me on a snowy, February morning back in 1992! I don't actually know if it was snowy. That just felt like a poetic thing to say.
I do share this name, however, with a lovely and world-renowned violinist! I receive facebook messages from her fans all the time!!! Sometimes I correct them and point them in the right direction- other times... maybe i'm having a rough morning or i'm feeling pudgy... I just thank them kindly for being my loyal fans! Hahaha!
I did get to meet Hilary a few years back! The dance company that I perform with, Pones Inc., was hired to dance in the lobby at The Taft Theater prior to her performance to get people all pepped to see her. I stayed after the (beautiful) performance to tell her how we share a name and how my orchestra directors back in high school got such a kick out of telling their little director friends that "Hillary Hahn" was in their orchestra!! I also told her that i'm a musician and might be like way famous someday and asked her if she wanted me to change my name? She was so, so cool and said absolutely not! She said we should go on tour someday as Hilary & Hillary and then signed my poster and drew me a rooster. Cause Hahn means "rooster" in German. Excellent.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
It's ridiculous. Too many to name, but since you are asking i'll give it a shot:
Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Alison Krauss, Jack White, Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Charlie Daniels, Katy Perry, Alanis Morisette, Paramore, Pink, Neil Young, Evanescence, Lynrd Skynrd, Queen, Dave Grohl, Jewel, The Who, Joy Williams & The Civil Wars... and don't even get me started on the musicals that i've spent hours and hours lost in!!! (Wicked, Chicago and Hamilton...) The list could go on and on and on. I live with headphones on.
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
So in addition to all this music business, I have been a professional dancer and choreographer for like ten years!!! It's kinda my jam (too)!
In February I will have the pleasure of debuting a new theatrical work with one of my best friends, Ian Forsgren! Chris Wesselman (of the Know Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio) has written a fantastic short play. Ian will be directing and choreographing it and I will be writing the music and lyrics to accompany it! Ian and I will also be singing the tunes live during the show so it's definitely going to be a great time and worth checking out if you are in the area!!
In March I will be debuting another new show in collaboration with the wonderful painter and actor Walter DeForest! The show will be featuring my music, lyrics and choreography and complimented by his creations and contributions as well!!!
For more details as they become available to the public follow my socials and/ or my website! All info can be found at www.hillaryhahn.org!!!
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
1) I want to play STADIUMS!!!! HUGE FUCKING STADIUMS!!! I want people that i've never met sing along to my most personal lyrics. That would be the most supreme goal. You know that video of Freddy Mercury getting all emotional when the crowd in Brazil started singing Love of My Life?? That. That's what I want.
2) I also really, really, really want to host Saturday Night Live AND be the musical guest.
My plan of action? Ummmmm... I have a few very close friends/ mentors that are in on my "plan of action" and they are helping me adjust pieces of it as I go/ stay on the right track. Other than those few people I don't love talking about my plans to the masses. All i'll say is wait and see!!!! :D
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
Probably a newer tune that didn't make this record but will certainly be on the next! It's called, "Phone Calls Home." It's another one of those tunes that I feel like Neil Young might be like:
***inhales slowly on a big cigar***
***exhales a huge puff of Cuban smoke***
"good one, kid..."
***winks at me***
Ha!!! I think it's fantastic writing. All truth. All raw. All real. Very sexy, badass and "fuck you". Rock n roll. It's empowering to perform! Check it out on my youtube channel!!!
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
Just staying motivated and focused and positive! I could write a miniature novel here about all the shit i've dealt with being a solo female act: loading my equipment in and out of shitty bars late at night by myself etc... trying to assemble bands and attend rehearsals with musicians who are mostly skeezy, nasty, dirty, old men... But I could also write another mini novel about all the times people have helped me out along the way. I consider myself to be very fortunate with the wonderful friends that surround and support me!
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
Hmmm. So I used to take these oil painting classes at a cool little arts studio in Covington, Kentucky called Bakerhunt. The teacher was talking one class about how creating an oil painting was similar to that of a sculptor's process. She spoke about how a sculptor takes a large piece of something and removes the parts they don't want to reveal the artwork hidden underneath- pretty cool, right? I take that same approach with my songwriting. I use the "morning pages" technique as described in the book The Artist's Way, which is just writing a few pages at a time without any boundaries or rules, just getting everything out of your head. Then I go back and review and typically that's how ideas are born for me! Did that make sense?
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
By filling me with unnecessary doubt and insecurity???
I don't like social media. I think it has killed so much intimacy in how we live our lives and share our art today. It's gross and strange and I don't like it. I've had a social media account since like, the 6th grade and have unfortunately grown up feeling that pressure to have a certain amount of "likes" on things to feel validated in them. That directly translates to my work as an artist. Comparing how many followers / likes I have in comparison to other people in the business is a terrible thing to get sucked into, but it certainly happens and yields nothing good. I am always happiest when I stay off social media all day and just check it maybe once in the evening. But! I do realize that it can be a powerful tool in reaching audiences beyond the local scene so I am educating myself on how to use it more as a business tool- but I still think it's obnoxious and I wish people would just write letters or come over for coffee to talk etc.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
I mean it's always a toss up, but lately it has been something like:
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Jet, Coldplay, Journey, Patty Griffin, Aerosmith, Alison Krauss, Brent James and the Vintage Youth, Radiohead, Green Day, Joy Williams, Led Zeppelin, The Underground Thieves, Greta van Fleet, Candlebox, Old Crow Medicine Show... ( walking away from this question because I could go on and on and on!)
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I would spend hours just listening or dancing to it!!! My parents are both musicians and actually met while working in a music store in the 80's. It's just kinda, in my blood I think. It's in my pulse.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
I think my advice to younger people in general would be to figure out exactly what you want to do, research the hell out of it and just make it happen. You'll learn from your mistakes along the way and the goal will change/ grow etc. Being noisy and asking advice too often from people who haven't actually done exactly what you're intending to do will just cloud that inner voice that's telling you what the next step is. I also believe that journalling and meditation have been wildly helpful tools for me on my little journey so far! Wow. I feel like that wise old tree in Pocahontas. Boo yaaaaaaa.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
I have no idea what they're doing up there. I spending every spare moment of my life running every detail of my music business down here on the ground or watching videos on how to start other small businesses to fund the music biz. So yeah. What are they even doing? Nothing that's helping me. Sooooo....
How Do You Feel About Originality?
I think you absolutely have to have it. That's one of the big reasons that I don't really get into any of these star search shows. I don't think another cute kid that can mimic Whitney Houston is nearly as impressive as the nervous kid that goes on stage and sings his/ her own original thoughts and opinions to their own music. That's all personal preference tho!
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
Thanks for the interview!!!!