Hannah Robinson is one of the best writers in the UK when it comes to electro-pop with an emphasis on the pop. She worked on the legendary Come and Get It album by Rachel Stevens and wrote some of my favourite tracks by Annie, Ladyhawke, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Jamelia and Dannii Minogue. In addition she’s worked with big names such as Kylie, Sugababes and even has a track, Lolita, on the Lana Del Rey album!
I chatted to Hannah about the British music scene, the artists she’s working with and the inspiration for her brilliant pop songs…
(Pic by ROCPHOTO)
Who do you think are the best pop writers and producers in the UK at the moment?
I’m a huge Cathy Dennis fan, I’ve followed her for ever and I always look forward to hearing her new releases. I always find myself saying “I wish I’d written that!” She’s an amazing pop writer. Her tracks always manage to appeal to such a wide audience. Also Sia is another topliner I’m admiring at the moment, although she’s Australian not British!
Stuart Price is a great producer. I can’t wait to hear the new Jaques Lu Cont album. I find his music really exciting and in your face.
Richard X is someone I work with all the time. He’s always ahead of the game with his ideas and productions. I enjoy working with Rich a lot.
Are there any songs you’ve written which you think should have been more successful?
I honestly don’t think about it in that way. If I did I’d probably go mad. Each song has its own destiny I guess.
Which artist would you most like to write a song for in the future?
Anyone new and fresh with bags of character. I’m always looking for the next exciting thing. I remember when I met Lana for the first time I could see she had a unique vibe about her. You never know for certain what will happen but it really worked out for her, she deserves it.
If I could work with an established artist it would have to be Robyn. She has a great pop vocal and her tracks always sound really fresh and modern. Her lyrics tend to be quirky and heart felt at the same time. Always very cool.
Have you worked with any artists recently that you think we should be looking out for in 2012?
I’ve just done some stuff with a Swedish girl duo called Icona Pop. They were a lot of fun to work with. When they sing together their voices blend perfectly creating a really unique sound.
Currently I’m working with a new signing called Chloe. She’s only 17 years old but has the most phenomenal voice, she’s one to look out for I reckon.
Soon I’m gonna be doing some tracks with a guy called Esther, his stuff is nuts, I love it. It’s all quite early days and in development, but again I think he’ll be doing great things this year or the next.
Have any of your songs ended up being released by a different artist than they were originally intended for?
I’ll sometimes write something with someone in mind and by the end of the song I’ll think maybe it’s for someone else after all. Method of Modern Love began its journey as a Kylie pitch and then St Etienne heard it and wanted to cut it. I love St Etienne so I was really happy they wanted to do it.
On occasion you’ll get more than one artist wanting to record the same track. Both Geri and Rachel Stevens wanted to perform Some Girls so the final decision came down to myself and the producer Richard X. We thought it was perfect for Rachel.
Do you more often look to current hits or old favourites for inspiration?
Absolutely anything can be inspiring to me, music old and new, a riff, a story in the news. I’ll write songs about people I know and events that took place, but I always try and do so with a contemporary twist. People are singing about the same stuff now as they did 30 or 40 years ago just with a modern approach.
Are your song lyrics more often based on your own life, that of the artist or an imaginary person?
If I’m working with an artist I like the story and the personality of the song to mainly come from them. They’re going to want to be able to relate to what they’re singing about to give a really great performance and sound like they mean it. Sometimes I’ll come into sessions with ideas, choruses or concepts which are usually universal ideas that pretty much anyone can relate to just incase we need a starting point.
Do you have any tips for aspiring songwriters looking for their big break?
Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook enable anyone to get their music heard and promote live gigs to the masses, so this is a great place to start. If you’re good you’ll stand out and people will take notice. Don’t be afraid to approach people in the business, be a pest and never give up. If you have a talent mixed with ambition and enthusiasm someone will eventually pick up on you and represent you in some way, whether it’s management or a deal. Those three attributes mixed together are infectious, people can’t help but wanna be involved, I see it all the time.