Episode 57: Hannah Peel – Composer, Producer, Synth & Sound lover

Composer, artist, musician, arranger, producer, late night broadcaster and synth-pop pioneer – there would appear to be no end to Hannah Peel’s talent. I’ve even seen her described as ‘The Queen of headphone dreamscapes’ which I love!

Hannah was always somebody that I really wanted to get on to the podcast from day one. To the point that my tweets and IG messages probably became irritating (sorry Hannah!) but there are some people that if they don’t come on, I’ll feel like this journey is uncomplete and Hannah was definitely one of those.

I first discovered Hannah’s work through her fabulous debut LP called The Broken Wave – which was released back in 2011. Created with Mike Lindsay, the co-founder, composer and producer of acid folk band Tunng, who have regularly been recommended by Paul Weller. (Mike also remixed She Speaks from Wake Up The Nation and is now part of the duo ‘Lump’ with Laura Marling.)

Hannah’s output since then has continued to be an inspiring and ambitious blend of projects that will blow your musical mind from her outstandingly beautiful record about memory (Awake But Always Dreaming) to one person’s journey to outer space (Mary Casio) to the electronic ruralism of Chalk Hill Blue, to TV and Documentary Soundtracks through to the Mercury Prize Nominated life-affirming sonic beauty that is Fir Wave.

With this being an article from Desperately Seeking Paul – The Paul Weller Fan Podcast, we should also focus on Hannah’s brilliant contributions to Paul’s music over the past few years as she’s added her orchestration skills to his incredible recent LP’s True Meanings, On Sunset and Fat Pop. PLUS who can forget those incredible two gigs at Royal Festival Hall in 2018 that Hannah arranged and conducted (also turned into the magnificent Other Aspects Live album) WOW!.

Her 2021 LP Fir Wave deserved all the plaudits and award nominations – it’s an outstanding piece of work, but then Hannah’s work is always very special. She has produced a wide range of albums that cover so much ground over the past decade ( I just had to check that it really was ten years as that’s an insane amount of work in such a short period of time) and I’m so glad that we got to talk about some of those as well as her amazing work with Paul… This was a really special episode for me.

It was also exciting to hear about what’s next with a new album in 2022 and as I type these words full details have been revealed on The Unfolding with the amazing Paraorchestra so I have added info below, where you can read all about her contributions to Paul Weller’s music, along with links and information on Hannah’s work too. Dive on in folks.

EP57 – Hannah Peel – Award-winning Composer, Artist, Musican – ”Dancing through the fire, just to catch a flame…” Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast

A Kind Revolution

Disc 3 Track 9 gives us an Erland Cooper Remix of Woo Se Mama with Hannah Peel on strings.
You can listen here.

True Meanings

  • Track 1 – The Soul Searchers – Strings Arrangement – Hannah Peel
  • Track 5 – Old Castles – String Arrangement – Andy Crofts & Hannah Peel
  • Track 7 – Aspects – Strings arranged and performed by Hannah Peel
  • Track 8 – Bowie – String Arrangement
  • Track 9 – Wishing Well – String Arrangement
  • Track 10 – Come Along – String Arrangement
  • Track 12 – Movin On – String Arrangement – Hannah Peel & White Label
  • Track 14 – White Horses – String Arrangement – Hannah Peel

Other Aspects

Performed on 11th and 12th October 2018 at London’s Royal Festival Hall.
Conducted by Hannah Peel, all songs performed by Paul Weller, Steve Cradock, Steve Pilgrim, Andy Crofts, Ben Gordelier and Tom Heel (with some special guests)
All orchestral arrangements are by Hannah.

On Sunset

String arrangements by Hannah Peel on the tracks below.

  • Track 4 – Village – Paraorchestra
  • Track 5 – More – Strings by Demon Strings
  • Track 6 – On Sunset – Paraorchestra
  • Track 9 – Earth Beat – Paraorchestra
  • Track 10 – Rockets – Paraorchestra (additional string arrangement by Andy Crofts)

Fat Pop (Vol 1)

String arrangements by Hannah Peel on the tracks below with a couple of exceptions.

  • Track 5 – Glad Times – Arrangement by Hannah Peel & White Label, Strings by Paraorchestra
  • Track 6 – Cobweb / Connections – Strings by Kotono Sato, Katy Cox, Antonia Pagulatos & Stella Page
  • Track 8 – That Pleasure – Strings by Paraorchestra
  • Track 12 – Still Glides The Stream – Arrangement by Hannah Peel & Steve Cradock, Strings by Paraorchestra
  • Bonus Track 2 – Serafina – Strings by Kotono Sato, Katy Cox, Antonia Pagulatos & Stella Page
  • Bonus Track 6 – Fat Mix – Strings by Kotono Sato, Katy Cox, Antonia Pagulatos & Stella Page

2022 – The Unfolding (Released 1 April 2022)

Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra with Charles Hazlewood have announced details of a major new work, The Unfolding, set for release on 1 April 2022 via Real World Records. Order here

3+ years in the making The Unfolding is an eight-part epic collaboration with Bristol’s Paraorchestra, recorded in precious morsels of time around the global pandemic. There are pieces of music that seek to tell us deeper stories. Others harness the talents of the players at their disposal in adventurous ways. Then there are the rare, generous works that make us think back to our roots as human beings and to our shared beginnings in the universe, that lift us in their melodies, rhythms and textures, that carry us with them. The Unfolding is all of these things.

2021 – Fir Wave

Shortlisted for the Hyundai Mercury Music Prize 2021 – The Observer called Fir Wave ‘A gorgeous, fizzing record.’

The specialist library label KPM, gave Hannah permission to reinterpret the original music of the celebrated 1972 KPM 1000 series: Electrosonic, the music of Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop. Her process of re-sampling and generating her own new digital instruments, allowed for fresh inspiration in pioneering, experimental electronics from the early 1970s is at the core of the album. Buy Fir Wave here

2020 – The Deceived – OST

Hannah created a dark, atmospheric and contemporary classical soundtrack for ‘The Deceived’, a 4-part psychological thriller for Channel 5 (and now on Netflix). 

She drew on one of the masters of the genre as inspiration: “The TV series draws influence from many thriller classics, so I approached the music in the same way as a full film score. I’m a fan of Hitchcock and of course the incredible Bernard Herrmann scores that always leave a wonderful aural aftertaste. The obsessive romance of ‘Vertigo’ played on my mind a lot,” says Peel, “but ‘The Birds’ was my main grounding for inspiration. The use of field recordings and electronic manipulations created a unique soundscape. This really came into play for a lot of my audio source material, which I recorded on set. I spent a day on set recording sounds specific to the old house to be able to work into the soundscape of the score. Unnerving atmospheres from crystal cut glass, sub-bass creaks from the front door: with electronic manipulation they became a foundation for me to score the strings on top of.” 

The 24-track album is a digital-only release – You can buy it here

2019 – Game Of Thrones: The Last Watch

Hannah created the Original Score from the HBO Documentary Special Game of Thrones: The Last Watch leading the viewer through the harsh reality of Northern Ireland’s landscape and tying together the emotional journeys of several characters. Nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding music composition for a documentary series, the music expertly balances the sense of the scale of the production, with the intimate and personal stories of each character.

From the first opening shots of the hand-stitched Game of Thrones tapestry accompanied by the show’s theme played on Hannah’s unique hand-punched music box, she takes us on a bittersweet musical journey. Depicting personal triumphs and challenges, dreams, wit and heartbreak, Hannah’s unique soundtrack encompasses the emotional and often extreme experiences of the cast and crew, blurred with Westeros’s fantasy grandeur and exciting battle scenes. You can listen & download here.

2019 – Chalk Hill Blue

Chalk Hill Blue is the first album by poet Will Burns and Hannah Peel: a record of electronic and classical ruralism channeling lives threaded through the chalk landscapes of Southern England.

As part of their collaboration, Will, Hannah and producer Erland Cooper (another Paul Weller collaborator) walked the landscapes around Burns’s Wendover house together: their chalk-heeled boots tracing shared routes through the rhythms and repetitions of the place. What emerges is a site-specific-non-specific record of creative place portraiture; an album that traces elements of a living landscape, and reworks them into something that is as sensitive and finely-observed as it is visionary. You can buy Chalk Hill Blue here.

2018 – Particles in Space

Particles in Space is a remixed version of Hannah’s 2017 acclaimed Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia album. Each track becoming a new collaborative reimagining. 

With character Mary Casio acting as a catalyst, Hannah set out on a personal mission to find new underground electronic producers and artists who would be keen to remix a colliery brass brass and synthesiser album… which in itself is a strange world to traverse.

Including artists from Northern Ireland, France, Japan and Scotland, Peel discovered a range of incredible engineers, producers and artists that are either with small independent labels or self-releasing material themselves. With a shared love for space exploration and early electronic role models like Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram, this remix album reveals a selection of new artists – much like the constant discovery of new particles in our galaxy and beyond.

You can buy Particles in Space here

2017 – Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia

Hannah’s third album is a seven-movement odyssey composed for analogue synths and a full, traditional 29-piece colliery brass band.

Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia explores one person’s journey to outer space, by recounting the story of an unknown, elderly, pioneering, electronic musical stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced home in the mining town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to see Cassiopeia for herself 

You can buy Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia here

2016 – Awake But Always Dreaming

Awarded No.1 ‘Album Of The Year’ by Electronic SoundAwake But Always Dreaming is a record about memory: the luminous and beautiful formation of memories and the devastating loss or slow, insidious damage to the mind.

The album has the feel of a dream where all of daily life is being expressed and decoded, from feverish rush-hours to the old sunlight of her grandmother’s fading memories. For more information and detail about the album please read this Guardian Article

2011 – The Broken Wave

The Broken Wave – Hannah’s debut LP – features eight originals plus two traditional Irish songs which close the album. It’s an exceptionally good LP – demonstrating her great voice and arrangements beautifully.

Hannah shares her skills as a multi-instrumentalist by playing practically everything on the record, drawing particular inspiration from her Irish upbringing but with a unique twist on her own Yorkshire roots (especially evident in her use of brass band). Have a listen…

Published by PaulWellerFanPodcast

The World’s first Paul Weller Fan Podcast - For the fans by the fans. A musical journey from In The City to Fat Pop (Vol 1). A radio broadcaster who gave up his career with one big regret. Never getting to interview the legendary British musician Paul Weller. This podcast exists purely to solve that issue. Welcome to Desperately Seeking Paul...

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