The Tipping Point
"It's a really great feeling to know people want to hear my opinion and my advice on music. It's an honour," Hannah Georgas says demurely, detailing her current position as a mentor and expert in a local music program. "It's amazing to sit on the other end and be like, 'Wow, I did this songwriting competition like a year ago.' It's pretty fucking sweet."
Georgas is grinning like a kid who's just won her grade-two spelling bee. For a fledgling artist with only a six-song EP to her name, the 26-year-old still can't believe how far she's come. As Georgas sips her Americano, bashfully noting how she's morphed into a singing-songwriting wizard in the eyes of her Vancouver-based counterparts, her caution slowly turns to pride. And who can blame her? After all, she's got musical stats that could sucker punch much more "established" Canadian indie bands.
Since deciding to seriously pursue music three years ago, her resume has exploded, chock-full of television song placements, a Taylor Swift shout-out and a Wal-Mart commercial commission. Between her EP The Beat Stuff and this month's debut full-length This Is Good, Georgas's songs have been heard on shows like Heroes, Degrassi-The Next Generation, Flashpoint and Peak Season. She won the 2009 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award for "Best New Artist." Starbucks has licensed "The Beat Stuff" to play in its North American stores. And love-struck critics everywhere are crowning her the next Feist.
In short, she's managed to become one of the most successful Canadian musicians you've probably never heard of.
It won't be long before Georgas becomes a household name. Even as I sit across from the fiery-haired singer-songwriter at Vancouver's Our Town Café, a local booking manager spots her, not just tucked in the corner but hidden behind an oversized pillar that also serves as a rambunctious air vent. Later that night at an overcrowded Jason Collett/Zeus/Bahamas show, a friend points out a black hooded figure standing in the shadows: "Oh, there's Hannah Georgas."
For those who have kept tabs on her, we can agree the talented songstress has had a meteoric rise in exposure and acclaim with very little back catalogue. She didn't get in on sparkle or image; she's doing it all on good tunes. A quick-witted and warm conversationalist, Georgas isn't just a new artist gliding on good luck, but someone wholly devoted to unembellished melodies.
"I write because it's an honest thing," Georgas says about her process. "I get inspired to write when I'm feeling something and that's what comes out. There's honesty in my music. Music that inspires me is music that I can emotionally connect to. Not even just the lyrics, but the feeling of the song itself. Whenever I feel like I just want to fist pump a song" ― Georgas bites her lower lip and jabs the air above her ― "that's what inspires me. When I hear a song and am like, 'Ohhh yeah,' that's the music I try to make so people can have that same connection. So hopefully I'm doing something like that. Fist-pumping music."
Although "Bang Bang You're Dead" ― with its adorable pre-pubescent gang vocals and upbeat, 8-bit intro ― is the first single off of This Is Good, "Thick Skin" is the first video from the album. Directed and inspired by Sean Wainsteim (Wintersleep, Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians), the video was released in January, and features Georgas completely naked, crawling through mud and tunnels. The video involved 300 takes, bruised knees and mud in crevices she didn't know existed, but according to Georgas, it was well worth the mess. Some may question her motivation for producing such a racy piece as easy publicity, but she maintains Wainsteim's vision worked to define her as more than just a singer-songwriter in a sea of them.
"I think it was a really cool way of introducing me ― like, 'okay, here's Hannah Georgas!'" she exclaims. "It was kind of ballsy. I just wanted it to show the rawness to who I am. It's all of me, in this video, and it's a very honest way of showing who I am. Some of the responses [to the video] were like 'Hot! Sexy video' but it's not intended to be that at all. It's a progression to my other songs, different from what people have heard before, and takes this interesting route where there's a little bit more to Hannah than just these folk songs. There's something darker."
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