Funky, funny and danceable: London pop duo Hannie discuss their unique sound and singular sense of humour
Hannie are a multi-instrumental pop duo with a disco vibe based in east London. Hannah Koppenburg (keys) and Annie Wagstaff (guitar, drums) formed the ensemble in 2017. Since then they have released two singles: Cosmic Bound (feat. Carys Selvey) and Target (feat. Ralph). We caught up with them ahead of the release of their next track to talk about their unique sound, their plans for the future and touching your nose with your tongue.
You guys have had a bit of a meteoric rise over the last year or so. Tell us a little about how you met and the journey that led you to where you guys are now.
Annie Wagstaff: So we both met at uni; we went to ACM and we just met on the first day at an induction day and we just got put in a lot of the same classes, so we kind of had to be friends. Then we moved in together in second year – we were literally the only two girls on the instrument courses. After uni, we moved straight to London and wanted to be session musicians and play for a bunch of different artists. We started doing little videos together and whacked them up on Instagram and it kind of went in a different direction from what we thought it would and now… we’re doing the Hannie thing!
Hannah Koppenburg: that was literally our life story in five sentences!
What was it like to get to record Target and Cosmic Bound in a studio, finally?
AW: To be honest, we wrote them the same day we recorded them, as with Target we did everything in that one day. And then with Cosmic Bound, we wrote it in our flat and recorded it at a different studio. It was really cool.
HK: Yeah, because we never thought we were going to write our own songs and record them. That was never really the plan. And now actually doing it is awesome.
Your neighbours must be super annoyed with you…
HK: They actually are totally cool with what we do. Occasionally we get a random text from our neighbours saying, “Hey guys, turn down the bass!”. Our neighbours next door say they’ve never heard us, but I don’t believe that.
Describe Hannie to us in three words.
HK: Ok, that’s three words already.
You guys are around each other a lot; you spend a lot of time together. What sort of thing helps you connect and create musically?
AW: We’re literally writing and making music and stuff all day, every day.
HK: I think that is the thing, that we just make music together all the time. We have a really similar music taste and I think that because we like the same stuff and play the same stuff, you [Annie] will play something on the guitar and I’ll say, “ahh this is awesome – I will jam with you,” and we will straight away start jamming. I think that’s what makes it.
AW: I sometimes think that when you’re in sessions every day it gets exhausting and you can’t think of things to write about, but then you kind of have a day where you just do an instrumental track or something and next thing you know, you’re writing again.
In your videos, it’s not just that Annie plays guitar and Hannah plays keys – you have instruments everywhere! How does being multi-instrumentalists affect your music?
AW: Massively. For example, I think if I didn’t play drums then there’s no way I could program drums and get drums down on our tracks. It’s all, like, over the years what you’ve learnt.
HK: And it opens a lot of doors because when you’re writing a track you can just say, “hey, let’s put some bass down,” and we come out with a bass line or the same for drums…
AW: It makes a massive difference for us being… not even being amazing but just being able to work your way around different instruments.
What do you have to say to other young women wanting to start out and make their own music?
AW: I think just go for it. Just do it. You can’t let anyone say anything that’s going to slow you down or stop you. You shouldn’t think of yourself as “Oh I’m a girl doing this”… I don’t think being a girl… it does make a difference but I don’t think you should think of it like that because you might be brought down by it.
HK: I find it almost rather surprising that there [are] fewer girls… because there’s absolutely no difference. But my advice definitely would be to just keep going. Just do what you do naturally: playing as much as you can, going to gigs… do everything that you would naturally do anyway.
Which women in music inspire you most?
HK: Julia Michaels is my favourite. I think the great thing about her is she came from a songwriting background, and now is an artist and she’s amazing and everyone loves her. I think that’s really inspiring.
AW: I think there’s a lot of artists like that, like Bebe Rexha and also a lot of writers who just aren’t in the public eye, who are amazing at what they do and they’re girls – just nobody knows about them. Just there doing their jobs amazingly.
If we looked at the last tracks you listened to, what sort of thing would we find?
HK: Such a variety!
AW: Such a variety! Fire by Peking Duk, which is an awesome song.
HK: There’s this duo called Farr. One of them is in London and the other is in LA and they do some awesome tracks. I’ve been having them on repeat recently. And I’m actually really digging the new album by Anne-Marie.
AW: Oh and do you know Vulfpeck?
HK: Ah, they’re sick! I saw them [live] last year; they were so good.
AW: We could reel off like this forever.
HK: I feel like our music tastes are vast. We listen to loads of jazz, fusion, funky stuff, but then literally a lot of radio and mainstream pop as well.
What would be a dream collaboration for you?
AW: I would love to work with Julia Michaels. Julia Michaels for me would be amazing to write with and to feature.
HK: There are so many people. I feel like it’s a mix between young and upcoming people who are in our surroundings and [bigger names] where you think, “maybe one day, let’s see what happens.”
Read on Insta, your next single, is coming out soon. I loved Target and Cosmic Bound, but what can you tell us about the new track?
AW: This one I’d say is a little bit funkier and it’s probably a little bit more upbeat. It’s very fun and jammy, a lot of live instruments.
HK: I think the key to the song is that it’s just quite fast and dancy, almost a little bit rappy but not really, like spoken word.
Is that what you’ve been doing in the studio at the moment, or is there an album on the way?
AW: There’s loads more songs on the way and we are throwing ideas around about doing an album or an EP –more of a mixtape. But we’ll see!
HK: We have a couple more singles coming up now. The next one comes out at the end of this month and we have about five more singles to come and then we’re thinking of maybe doing an album or a mixtape or something like that. I’m super excited, especially because I just want to show them to everyone and play them for everyone, but we need to give it some time.
You’re living in East London now, what do you like most about the city and living here?
AW: I love London. I absolutely love London. The people – everyone’s from everywhere. It’s so diverse. It’s so open-minded. You can wear whatever you want and you probably won’t even be looked at.
HK: It’s just the general variety. Parts of London are also different: East London is completely different to West London or South London and it seems like you can go to five different cities all at once. There’s always something going on. Any day if I think “I want to go to a gig,” I can go to a jam or gig. There’s always something happening, which I love.
You’ve planted a few stickers around the city for fans, any chance of a clue for where we can find them?
AW: They’re mainly around East [London] because that’s where we’ve been recently.
HK: If you keep your eyes open you will definitely spot them. Keep looking and if you find one, we’ll send you thirty seconds of our next single!
Fans are overflowing with likes and follows on Instagram and Spotify; can you give us a sense of when we might be able to finally see you live?
AW: So we’ve got a stripped-back set that we’re going to start doing ASAP. Things like Sofar Sounds, smaller things like that. And then our full live set we will be rehearsing really really soon and then hopefully by the end of the summer…
HK: Oh earlier, earlier! We wanted to wait a little bit until we had three singles out; the next one’s on the way and then we can start gigging.
What do you two do for fun that isn’t music nowadays?
AW: It’s quite a rare occasion. We go to the park – running, or just seeing our friends. We don’t get to see our friends every day. We get to meet new people every day but so it’s nice to hang out with our friends.
Tell us one fun fact about yourselves and the other person that fans might not know.
HK: A fact about Annie is that she’s a lot more silly than she pretends. Several times a day funnily dancing through the flat doing funny accents doing random stuff. About myself… I love cooking!
AW: I can touch my nose with my tongue.
HK: I can do that too!
AW: No you can’t!
Thank you for talking to us guys; can’t wait for more singles and live shows!
Photo: Niklas Haze
Watch Hannie perform Target here: