Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook
WHO is he?
Oli Hannaford is 20-year-old singer-songwriter who recently released his new self-produced electro-pop single Lily. But how did it all get started? “The acoustic guitar was the door to music for me. When I was young, I admired a bloke who played a really simple sounding song on one and thought about giving it a go. With a bit of YouTube and UltimateGuitar.com I picked up the basics. So there I was, strumming a little nylon-stringer, until a woman who visited our house said (in a very broad Devonshire accent) “Well playin that guitar aint no good if you cant sing as well is it?” which although I now beg to differ, I listened to and began screeching some James Blunt tracks. That kind of paved my way into an acoustic scene.”
“I got to a point where I was gigging locally every weekend, with my own sound system, car, and occasionally my dad to tell me when my voice was a bit quiet! Although it was great at the time, I found myself playing with more and more gadgets as time went on. I won a Jack Wills Young Brit Award last year which led to me being lucky enough to set up a studio in my room. I’ve spent the past few moths learning about production and have recorded/produced a very strange variety of things. That pretty much leads us to now, where Lily is the first track to come solely from that bedroom studio.”
WHAT is he singing about?
“Back in those acoustic days I mentioned, I always found myself writing very sad songs. I mean, real tear jerkers. If people knew how sad they were going to be after coming to watch me play they probably wouldn’t have bothered haha!! No no, I always tried to write about things that people could relate to, I just always found that the easiest way to do that was to tug on the heart strings.”
“After so many years of that, I started to realise that sad songs came from sad moments, and when I would play those songs live, it’d almost be a memory or re-enactment of how I felt when I was writing it. Then I thought, well why the bloody hell don’t I write songs when I’m happy instead? Then I can remember being happy when I play it live! Of course Lily isn’t an out-and-out happy track since it deals with issues that we all face, but it is certainly positive and although I’ve not yet played it live, I imagine it’ll be uplifting to.”
WHERE did he grow up?
“I grew up in Devon. Of course the music scene is incredible there, some very big artists (Ben Howard, Muse, Chris Martin, Jamie Lawson, Metronomy,…..) are from places very close to where I lived. But it’s not just the majorly successful artists that you hear about that make me say that. There are some great new artists making real good music. The open mic scene in and around Plymouth is great – it’s been a big part of my musical wandering. And then there’s London.. oh boy.”
“I decided I needed to come to London, so (seemingly randomly) embarked on a maths degree at Queen Mary, University of London, which can be my safety net if things don’t pan out. The music scene here is unbelievably massive. I bet there are so many big gigs going on right now while I’m chatting with you guys! London seems to be populated with music that contains elements of Jazz and Funk, and that has a strong beat. That’s provoked the sound of the tracks I’m now making.”
WHY should I listen to him?
Oli creates a full and effective sound smoothly combining elements of electronic pop, jazz and alternative R&B, succeeding in staying unique thanks to his soulful voice and by keeping the song-writing at the centre of his tracks.
WHEN can I see him live?
“I’ll get back to you on that, got some things in the pipeline ;)” Keep updated here.