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…” – Paul Weller Fan Podcast : Desperately Seeking Paul
2017 – Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution
Disc 3 Track 9 gives us an Erland Cooper Remix of Woo Se Mama with Hannah Peel on strings.
2018 – Paul Weller – 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
2018 – Paul Weller – Other Aspects – Live at the Royal Festival Hall
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.
2020 – Paul Weller – 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)
2021 – Paul Weller – 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 Midwich Cuckoos (Released June 2022)
The Sky Original TV series, The Midwich Cuckoos is based on the 1957 science fiction novel by John Wyndham, and tells the story of an English village where the women become mysteriously pregnant.
Hannah Peel‘s score is described as a unique and intricately produced soundscape, working in harmony with the sound design of Sky’s adaptation.
This incredible score won an Ivor Novello Award for Best TV Soundtrack and Original Score Recording Of The Year at the Music Producer’s Guild Awards!
You can buy it here….
2022 – The Unfolding (Released April 2022)
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.
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
2016 – Awake But Always Dreaming
Awarded No.1 ‘Album Of The Year’ by Electronic Sound, Awake 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, 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…