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20 Questions With Hannah Connolly

The sweet singer-songwriter talks emo, Conor Oberst, peanut butter cups & more.

Photo by Tammie Valer.

We all have baggage. Some of us are just better at carrying it — and letting it go. Hannah Connolly seems to be doing OK on both counts. The Midwestern singer-songwriter has faced her unfair share of trauma — her younger brother was killed by a drunk driver in 2015, which naturally informed both her debut album From Where You Are, and her upcoming release Shadowboxing. But in her newer work, Connolly also forges a path toward the healing light, offering songs that embrace life, friendship, travel and adventure — including her latest single Bags Are Packed, which premiered right HERE. For her latest trip, Connolly foolishly decided to waste some quality time with my pointless questions. If that doesn’t make her pine for a long vacation, nothing will. Let’s see how she carried herself:



Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and any other details you’d care to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
My name is Hannah Connolly, I’m based in Los Angeles but originally from Eau Claire, WI. I’m a Leo, but as an introverted extrovert, a lot of the time lately I don’t feel like one. No tattoos but I might get one someday.

What’s your latest project?
My latest project is a new album called Shadowboxing. So far, I’ve released two singles off of it, Reno and Bags Are Packed. A third song, Stuck in Place, comes out later this month.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played.
A few years ago I found what I think was one of the first songs I wrote from about fourth or fifth grade. It was just lyrics written on notebook paper with a gel pen, because I didn’t know how to play an instrument at that time. Funny enough, it was about wanting to grow up and be a singer. I consider the first real original song I wrote to be a song called Peter Pan. That came after I picked up the guitar in my early teens. I remember writing it late one night in my family’s living room.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you have given?
When I was a teenager, my pop-punk band opened for Ryan Cabrera at an all-ages roller rink in our hometown. We were followed by a hardcore band with a mosh pit. I think that perfectly sums up how random and fun our all ages music scene was growing up in a small town in Wisconsin.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen?
I saw Conor Oberst play in a pasta bar in Minneapolis as part of a get-out-the-vote effort for Barack Obama. A restaurant was a strange setting to see him in, but it lived up to every expectation I had. I’d been listening to Bright Eyes and The Mystic Valley Band religiously that first year of college, and it felt surreal to have just moved to a bigger city and be able to walk down the street to see one of my favourite artists play.

What living or dead artists would you like to collaborate with?
It would be awesome to collaborate with Sheryl Crow, Brandi Carlile, Dolly Parton or Patty Griffin. All heroes of mine.

Photo by Ellyn Jameson.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I have a big place in my heart for emo and pop-punk music, especially from the early 2000s. I used to play in a pop-rock band as a teen and some of our influences were Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, etc. There was a lot of headbanging involved. Emo forever.

What words do you hope people use when they describe you?
Kind, thoughtful and genuine. Maybe Funny on a good day ha.

What useful (or useless) skills do you have outside of music?
Most of my life and hobbies center around music, but I am trying to expand on that to stay inspired and keep things interesting. I used to enjoy acting when I was younger and I have always thought about taking a class again as an adult for fun. I’m also trying to get more into cooking and making visual art or pottery.

What do you collect?
I used to collect stamps, and then costume jewelry, and then old books — but moving around so much made it hard to keep any kind of solid collection. Now I mostly collect rocks.

If money was no object, where would you live?
I feel pretty lucky to be living in California. I suppose if money was no object, I’d still live here but on a piece of land with a lot of nature near the beach.

What would you like to be reincarnated as?
Something that flies, maybe a hummingbird because they get to fly so fast. My heart rate is already nearly as fast from all of my anxiety and coffee drinking.

What would the title of your autobiography be?
Doing My Best (ha) or maybe A Work in Progress.

Who should play you in the movie of your life?
Ohhh man, I think I’d pick Anna Kendrick. She’s funny and she also sings.

What’s your motto?
“I’m figuring it out” is something I say to myself a lot lately. There’s a lot of moments trying to navigate a career as a musician where everything feels new or overwhelming. Saying this reminds me that everyone has to figure these things out at some point, and to take it all step by step.

What’s always in your refrigerator?
Lately it’s dark-chocolate peanut butter cups.

If you had one day to spend as you please without any consequences, what would you do?
Sleep in, jump in the ocean, eat sushi, read a book in a hammock, go dancing.

What’s the silliest thing you believed as a child?
When I was really little, I thought that if I believed in it fully enough, I would be able to fly. I would start running really fast and jump to see if my feet lifted off the ground. Maybe that level of delusion has served me in some positive ways over the years.

What was your favourite class in school and why?
My favourite class in high school was art class because it was where I met my best friend at the time. I also liked getting out of my own head and experimenting with visual art, having no real goal or objective in mind when making it.

What world record would you like to break?
Oldest person to perform at Hollywood Bowl.

What’s the best and / or worst advice you were ever given?
The best advice I was ever given was to keep your head down and focus on making art and music that you’re proud of, without comparing yourself to others. The older I get the more fully I understand the weight and significance of only trying to be the best version of yourself.

Watch videos for Bags Are Packed and Reno above, hear more from Hannah Connolly below and visit her website and Instagram.


Photo by Ryan Neal Cordwell.
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