Hannah Jane Lewis makes proper pop music.
Pop songs that fizzle and crack with an undeniable charisma and a deep, embedded love for pop as an art form.
Nowhere is this more fully realised than in her new single, ‘Aftershock,’ which sounds like what might happen if ‘Wrecking Ball’ got really, really drunk and went out to a gay bar. It’s got a chorus so massive and towering that the first time we heard it, it blew our head off a bit.
“This exact situation happened to one of my friends,” Hannah explains about the story behind the song. “When they were telling me, it made me realise how universal this feeling is – and how much it sucks. I’ve definitely had weird situations where I’ve moved on from an ex and then found out they were with someone else, and just for a moment been like ‘Nooooo!’”
Hannah says that the real-life inspo for the song is what fuelled the making of the track in the studio.
“I brought it into the studio with my friend Jonny Hockings, who I love to write with,” Hannah explains. “and we just wanted to make it as visual as humanly possible – like you could literally picture it happening. I explain it as a tantrum in a song. It’s three minutes of royally throwing your toys out of the pram. It’s so dramatic, and I absolutely love it for that!”
Signed to Polydor and Hot Hot Records in the UK, Hannah says that the type of pop music she makes – brash, neon-coloured and unfazed by trends – hasn’t been discouraged in an attempt to make her more palatable to a ‘taste maker-y’ crowd. We ask her if she just walks into the studio and demands to make some pop bangers.
“Yes, I was just like ‘lads, let’s make some bangers,” she says. “I feel really lucky that I have an awesome team around me that kind of just lets me run free when it comes to songwriting. They’ve never around and told me to be a bit cooler. It’s natural for me to make the type of music I make. So as poppy as it is, it’s what organic for me.”
This brazen pop sensibility is even better knowing that Hannah, having been born in Surrey but growing up in Florida, has in a sense the best of both worlds in her approach to both pop music and being a pop star.
She has the intricate lyrics and the self-depracating manner of some of our best pop stars like Marina and the Diamonds, but having grown up around Britney and Christina in their prime, knows what it takes to be a star.
“I think American pop is really bold and out there,” Hannah tells us. “And if you look at some of the pop stars that I grew up listening to like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, P!nk and Katy Perry, they have a big theatrical element that really inspires me. Almost like a ‘go big or go home’ vibe – which I had drummed into me when I lived there!”
Hannah also says that even though she was a “sponge” to her cultural surroundings in the states, British pop also plays a big part in her love for the music and her identity.
“Some of the boldest pop stars have come out of the UK,” she offers, hopefully alluding to everyone’s favourite bold UK pop star Kate Bush. “People like the Spice Girls are a big reason why younger me even chose to start singing.”
‘Aftershock,’ as a single sounds like something ‘Lucky Star’-era Madonna would put out if she was starting out again today or something that would warrant inclusion on a British Teenage Dream. Which is lucky for Hannah because we asked what was the best pop chorus, she gave a very passionate (and correct) answer.
“I think ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry is, in my opinion, the best pop chorus,” Hannah states correctly. “And actually, to me, the entire Teenage Dream album is my favourite pop album. It’s PERFECT.”
Massive pop songs aside, Hannah’s also currently participating in one of the age-old rite of passages for any would-be pop star; a school tour.
“I’ve already started [the tour],” Hannah says. “I’m super excited to do more. I go around to different secondary schools and sing my songs, but also talk about following your dreams and a little bit about bullying – which I really love doing. [Note: Hannah means talking about not bullying people, let’s be clear.] It’s a lot of fun and hopefully I manage to help a little bit in the process by talking about those subjects!”
‘Aftershock’ follows on from Hannah’s last single from the previous year, the similarly-bubbly ‘Raincheck.’ Whilst there’s not an album on the cards this year, Hannah also says we can expect more music.
“There will definitely be an EP,” she says. “And lots more singles. The goal is to release a lot of music this year.”
If any of these other songs have a chorus as earth-shatteringly brilliant as ‘Aftershock,’ we’ll be in for a real treat.
‘Aftershock’ is out now, via Polydor and Hot Hot
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Words by George Griffiths