HANIA RANI – Interview

Foto-© Stephan Strache

Wir treffen Hania Rani nach ihrem Köln Konzert in der hiesigen Stadthalle. Die Stadthalle versprüht liebevoll den Charme der 60er Jahre und wird soeben vom neuen Pächter aus ihrem Dornröschenschlaf geweckt. Trotz Julihitze ist das Konzert bestens besucht. Nach ihrem Auftritt und vor unserem Interview nimmt sich Hania geduldig Zeit für Austausch, Foto- und Autogrammwünsche ihrer Fans. Beim Interview selbst erleben wir Hania als eine reflektierte wie zuvorkommende Gesprächspartnerin. Andächtig bekommen wir einen kleinen Einblick in ihren Alltag und Umgang mit Musik.

Im Anschluss an das Gespräch und ein paar Fotos geht es für Hania und ihren Tross bereits nachts unmittelbar weiter nach Frankreich. Trotz ihres vollen Zeitplans dürfen wir Hania frei von Stress oder Zeitdruck erleben.

Thank you very much for the wonderful concert. We enjoyed it very much. How long have you been on tour?
During the summer we are just playing a couple of shows and a little bit of summer festivals. But basically the main tour with our new songs will take in October. So this was a kind of ending of this set. It’s nice for me.

We read that you are playing a festival in France tomorrow. How is your setlist there different from the club show today?
Right now, I’ve got two sets. I prefer more performing solo. But yesterday I performed with a friend who is joining me on the stage with a double bass und another synth. There are many many new songs basically coming from the new album. It’s a tiny bit different this two sets. Performing solo I really like to be honest. It feels very grounded and very much in me. So I feel very comfortable with it. The new one is still fresh.

Do you prefer to play solo sets on your tour or with a band?
Probably still solo just because I am used to it. I toured so much solo and feeling free and I am very used to it. With band obviously it has more power and there is a very nice connecting with people but defiantly it is something I have still to work on because I am not used to.

How difficult is it to switch between sets from one day to the next?
It’s not fully difficult. It’s not a enormous change because I already performed it many times. But definitively each set needs time and developing. Even during the rehearsal today we had ideas and I found some new things I performed during the show for the first time. If we have time for a long rehearsal we are trying out new things and I think this is wonderful about my set that is growing which each show and that is why it’s every time different.

That means a song is never completely finished with you?
I would say so. Some of my songs are never finished. Probably my favorite songs are these songs that are never finished because you are always able to find something new. When I’m performing them in a very similar way at the end of the song I’ve got always new ideas. It means that the song itself inspires me. Because I never think kind of my property is music. Music is always there and we can meet each other at some point. Basically music is proposing from time to time. If you are sensitive enough or in this moments of focus you can maybe spots this moments. Many of my songs change so much through the years. And it’s wonderful.

So they develop their own life and you just channel them?
Yes. And I think they mean also very different things to people who listen to them. So this is also great. There are already like autonomic elements I think.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a German indie pop band who told me that after 15 years they would like to record their 15 years old album new because all their songs sound so different now. I love the idea that a song is never finished and can develop a life of its own. Art is always a reflection of the times. I think I can hear these thoughts in you too.
Yes. It just really happening always here and now. You can not repeat it even twice the same time. It is also scary.

YouTube video


Scary but also beautiful. But back to new music, your new record comes out on the 6th October.
Like many, many other records this year.

But it makes sense. Musicians play festivals over the summer before the club tours start again in autumn. And with a new record, a tour can also be promoted better.
But somehow I feel like October is really busy. In October and November everyone is just releasing so many albums. Sound a bit stressed. Maybe it is too much. You can not choose the perfect time for releasing. There are so many artists over there.

Was it not your decision to release your record in early October?
Oh no. It’s kind of mine. Obviously it’s also connected with the release plans of my label. Basically once I finished the album then we needed to do a plan when we will release singles also connecting with touring. It’s a big plan we had to do. Everything needs to be discussed. I was planing to do it in fall. We thought October would be a good place because we are touring the whole October and then we are touring in the US. So it is a good plan.

It sounds totally coherent. But let’s move on to the new album. Would you like to tell us something about your guests on your new record?
For the first time I’ve guests on my album. I think I feel like this new album of mine is very new. The last one was released in 2020. So it is really three years old. When I’m starting to tour you always think about the album. It’s not like you’re really stopping or never really having a break from your album. Working on your album you basically collect every little stone you find on the road and than somehow it’s the right moment for recording one. But I found I really can start from the scratch. I didn’t need to be really connected to my second album. I can really start from the beginning. I already did a couple of things. I recorded a couple of albums, some reworks and I did a couple of soundtracks. I felt I can just do something new. And I thought I really need to pick elements in order to have something new. One of the very first things I noticed, I need to do it with some other people. Because if I’ll do it again alone it will be just similar. So I asked three artists and they agree: Ólafur Arnalds, Patrick Watson and Duncan Bellamy from Portico Quartet. And I’m extremely grateful and humbled that they joined me because I think each of them is a very, very particular and extremely talented artist and each of them has contributed in a very different way. But I feel they make this album sound differently.

How great. Did you first have an idea of how something should sound and then look for the guests? Or did you first think about who should take part and then you worked on songs together?
First I really wanted to do something with Duncan Bellamy because I admire his drumming and his understanding of music. We also did something together with Portico Quartet earlier. But I still thought maybe it is better to work only with one of them. Also Duncan Bellamys sound sounds a bit different to the Portico Quartet sound itself. I thought I am really not very great if it comes to beats because I am quite classically trained. I understand everything in a more common way. I thought if he would join me maybe my music would be a little bit more complex. Actually with him it startet that first he was about to contribute a song but then I though we would do it the other way around and I will not be giving him any music and he send me some little scatches of beats and then I edited it and on top of it I started to compose new songs.

So you worked remotely?
Yes, we worked remote. Then obviously we met. But it started in early 2022, I think. Maybe earlier.

With Patrick Watson it was differently. I just composed the single Ghosts and I just thought, this is a Patrick Watson song. It sounds so. I love him so much. I am such a huge fan. I was learning how to write songs while listening to his songs years ago. And I just send it to him. We were in contact already and he said „I love this song“. He sang on top of it.

With Ólafur Arnalds it was also differently. I came to Reykjavik and I showed him one song and thought he might be interested in joining. Because I thought he would be so busy so maybe he won’t have any time to compose something from the scratch with me. But then he said: „You know Hania, I would love to just compose something with you from the scratch.“ That was what he thought. So he said: „I can of course add something to the song that you composed. But I think it’s a way more interesting if we meet when you come again and we start something new from the beginning.“ I just came and we started to improvise and jam. Just play. We recorded a couple of songs and then we pick the one that made it to the album.

YouTube video


Wow. There is maybe more to come?
Oh yes. Actually I never really worked with Ólafur Arnalds. Of course we did some reworks, we know each other. But we never really made music together and actually it was surprisingly natural and very inspiring and I think we both as well missed a bit this kind of feeling, the way of doing music together. In a natural, not pressured way. Hopefully there will be some more. We will see. I mean I also don’t like to push music because I think it is such a fragile thing everything has to come naturally.

How do you know that a song is finished and you can publish it? And how do you notice it, when you work together on a song? Who says, the song is finished?
I think it depends. With Duncan Bellamy and Patrick Watson I basically finished them. But with Ólafur Arnalds we basically did it all together. We managed to really finish the song when we were working on them. Of course we finished the postproduction process separately because it is unnecessary to do it together. But basically we started from the beginning and then we finished it both together.

After this experience, are there any other artists you would like to work with?
Oh, so many. I love many artists. I am a big fan of music in general. One of the names that comes in my mind, I would like to work with and I hope it will work one day is Kae Tempest. She is actual a poet. You can’t say she is rapping. She is physically saying things in very beautiful way. She or them because she is not pro sizes gender. She is non binary I think.

That sounds totally exciting and fitting. Kae Tempest is a welcome artist in Haldern. You’re playing there this year too.
I am really excited. I know that many artists that I admire played there. So it’s a high standard.

Haldern Pop Festival is recently the only German festival you are playing this year?
Yes. We not playing a lot of shows this summer because we are playing our big tour in October. So I play only a couple. Off Festival in Poland. Also a very nice one. Not to big and well curated.

If you could curate your own festival, who would play there and where should it take place?
I would say there are a couple of artists I always love to watch, you know. Obviously it is Portico Quartet, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Tirzah, Kae Tempest. But I’d also love to see Radiohead. And I also love experimental music and music that I have totally no idea about. A really like nice techno sets during a festival. Because I’m not really going to clubs but during a festival I love if there is a great techno set and I also enjoy just discovering new music. That is what I like on smaller festivals if you’ve got no idea who is playing and you freshly receiving this music. This is something that is missing when it comes to huge festivals. Obviously it is also great to see this big names with their great performances. They know how to work with a huge crowd. But I also enjoy some smaller, more experimental acts on smaller festivals.

Do you have time to walk around and see and listen other artists at Haldern Pop?
Maybe a bit. Because we are arriving quite early and we are playing at nine and than after me Glen Hansard and The Comet Is Coming will play and I want to see them.

And at Off Festival?
After me King Krule. I’ve never seen him. So I am really excited. I really love him. Totally different energy. Definitely I will see his show.

I feel that too. I saw King Krule at Melt! festival. I didn’t know anything about him beforehand and was completely overwhelmed by his voice.
This powerful voice. I can imagine.

YouTube video


Is there a club, a venue you would definitely like to play in?
Yeah, Barbican in London. I really love this venue. The Royal Albert Hall in London. There are a couple. Maybe Disney Hall in Los Angeles. There are so many amazing venues I would love to play but to be honest many dreams already came true. It’s a little bit crazy to think. I played Elbphilharmonie. This year I will playing in the new Roundhouse in London and Salle Pleyel in Paris. Many dreams are just coming through. And it is always a pleasure to see this venues. But also today I was fascinated by this venue.

In the meantime, there are more concerts here again due to the change of the operator.
This is what I also heard. I think it can be a really good venue. Maybe they need a air condition.

But it’s also rather unusual for club concerts to take place in July.
That’s true. And I am very grateful that so many people really came. It was really nice. Perhaps even some tourists? Because Cologne is a great place to visit.

When you tour again with the new album in October, how will you be on the road? Again – like here – with a Nightliner?
Yes. In Europe.

Afterwards you’ll also be playing in the USA and Canada. Are you playing there with your own backline? Or do you rent it on site?
This is still not decided. Some things we are defiantly bringing. But actually in the US it’s better to rent or buy it. Especially as both me and my friend are using not very untypical synths. So we can use American synths and it is usually very easy to rent it oversea. So hopefully we don’t need to bring ours. Always traveling is not really good for instruments especially this kind of instruments with all their original souls. I hope that we are able to rent there as much as possible. Just bring the microphones and my drum machine as well.

What is your favorite synthesizer?
Well, I only have one. Everything what I am doing, I’m just using one. Maybe because I am studying. I am probably very different because I am focused on one instrument, like on the piano, trying to find new sounds on the same instrument. Then I have one – especially a great synth as prophet 8 – then it still feels like a never ending story. But I would definitely would love to have some more. Maybe this is a good moment for me as well. Now this is the first time I use this very old school and vintage drum machine. So I already feel like having many instruments at the same time. I think I am unusual, I am probably different to most of the musicians who are collecting instruments. I like to dive more into one and just know everything. Maybe I have to get the second prophet on tour.

Thank you so much for taking the time for our interview. It was wonderful to talk to you.
Thank you very much it was also a pleasure for me to talk about music, to talk about what I love.

YouTube video

Stephan Strache

Mehr erfahren →