Music, Venue

A CONVERSATION WITH UEA ARTIST HANA YAZZ

When Hana Yazz isn’t busy studying pharmacy right here at UEA, you can find her performing in and around Norwich or making some of the most exciting R&B music you’ll find in this city. I had the opportunity to chat to Hana at the square late last month and ended up talking about how she first came into music (I promised to not include the influence Little Mermaid had on her as a child), some of her influences, and what we can expect from her going forward including experimenting with production and potentially a new EP.

I opened up the interview asking about how she got into music. “I started off with little school things like Jessie J Pride kind of stuff in year 6 [at this point we went off on quite a tangent about Jessie J’s relationship with Channing Tatum]…and then when it actually kind of kicked off was when I was doing DofE in year 12. You need to do a skill for it and I mentioned how I could sing. The teachers at the time were like funnily enough we’re partnered with a music studio kind of thing for young people and you can do it there. I’d never been to a studio before but it wasn’t what I was expecting because when I went there it turns out it was a juvenile thing which I didn’t mind and added to the heat of it! But it was kind of like community service kind of stuff and there were loads of roadmen and just me, I was doing covers mainly.

“One guy there though was working with the BBC and he asked me if I wanted to be in the choir for Harry and Megan’s wedding but I had to be 18 which was annoying. Then he said ‘hey why don’t you write your own songs’ and said how I can use type beats on YouTube as I couldn’t play any instruments. But yeah I really liked that and just kept doing it and after a while reached out to pretty much every producer in London. I got blanked by pretty much 90% of them but one person actually responded. She was like an assistant engineer at the time at this fancy studio. Funnily enough she’s now done stuff with Koffee and I think she’s been on something that’s Grammy nominated too. That’s the one that’s got all my plays too [Fantasy].”

Hana’s music has strong R&B influences sounding similar to the likes of Jorja Smith. I asked Hana whether Jorja was an influence and what other music has played an influence in hers. “It’s funny you should say that because in that time period I was listening to a lot of Jorja Smith, Daniel Caesar, Rex Orange County. That was one of the things I think that really made me want to start making my own music because when I started listening to Rex he had less than ten thousand plays, so watching him grow I was like yeah that’s definitely possible. Arctic monkeys was an influence too. Especially their quite off beat lyrics. I think my influences have definitely changed and gotten a lot funkier.”

Hana recently performed at Voodoo Daddy’s with the Stripped Sets collective and I asked her about this experience. “Yeah that was really cool, I’d only ever done three other shows, a couple in London and this was the first one where it was organised by artists and probably the most proper show I’d ever done. It was actually quite stressful because the band I was meant to be playing with cancelled and so I had to switch to backing tracks which was fine in the end and my mum said I should just have fun. I think it definitely produced the best performance I’d done on stage.”

I asked Hana whether she had any other live shows planned in Norwich this year. “Yeah, I’ve actually got one planned on May 10th with the music college Access. That college is literally right next to Epic Studios and the gig’s in a café between the college and the studios and it’s free! I’ll be with a band too.”

Trying to do a degree is hard work in itself, but balancing music with studying is hard to balance. I asked Hana how she found it, “If I feel like doing something musical I’ll tend to just do it, I don’t really do it in my day to day which does upset me. I do it when I can and sometimes I’ll get splurges. I think for making an album I want to wait until I really know what I want it to sound like. Right now it’s just experimenting so I think I want to do another EP before I do an album. I’m excited about my new music, I think it’s a lot less commercial sounding and more whatever sounds great.”

Be sure to keep up to date with Hana’s latest work across all digital platforms.


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03/05/2022

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Tom Manning



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