FYIG Chats With Hannah Stewart and Hank Dorsey of Indie Pop Duo Inanna

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Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Hannah: Sure! I’m from central California originally and was homeschooled until high school. I’ve been involved in music and dance for as long as I can remember, and because the high school I went to was music-focused, it was an easy transition out of homeschooling. I had a great time there and then at UC Santa Barbara, and now we live on the Central California Coast. When I’m not making music I can be found reading, cooking, or outside somewhere.

Hank: I’m from northern California and, while I did have homework, most of my education took place in schools. I met Hannah at UCSB and we’ve been together ever since. After college, I moved back home where I got a job running a lab for a tree nursery. I look back on that phase of my life very fondly but am excited to be going in a new direction.

How did you both get your start or first take an interest in music?

Hannah: My mom has always been involved in music by singing in choirs, local theater, etc., so I’m sure just hearing her from the womb and after inspired baby Hannah to sing. That’s a weird answer but I can’t remember my first experience, I’ve just always been singing. I enrolled in my first ballet class when I was I think 3 ½ so I don’t remember that either, but I know my first part was the caboose of a train, lol. And my Grandma started teaching me piano probably around 6? So I’ve always loved singing, creating, and moving to music.

Hank: I’ve been a big fan of music since high school. Oracular Spectacular by MGMT was a watershed album for me and I’ve been consuming everything I can get my hands on ever since. MGMT was really a jumping off point and I found this really terribly formatted fan page that had been created by what I can only assume was an obsessed stalker, that had a compilation of all their influences, and favorite contemporary acts. I spent like a year or two going through that and really liked where I ended up.

You met during your time at UC Santa Barbara. How did you start creating music together?

Hank: Well we started playing music together shortly after we moved in together. It quickly went from something relatively lighthearted to something pretty all-consuming. Hannah has a beautiful voice and what we were creating was something that we both felt we should share.

You quit your jobs and took a cross-country road trip. Did you have any goal in mind with that trip or was it just a spur of the moment thing?

Hannah: Yes, definitely had the goal of the trip being “we are about to quit these decent jobs and do this crazy thing (pursue music), let’s do this semi-crazy thing to ease the mental transition and get started.” The trip was something I’d wanted to do for a while because living in California your whole life and never really seeing many other states is almost like living in another country, and I didn’t want to feel like that. So it kind of worked out perfectly!

Hannah wrote more than 30 songs during that trip. What was it about that journey that had those creative juices flowing?

Hannah: I think the combination of the anticipation that that was partially what the trip was for, plus the routine we got into, plus the abundance of pent-up stuff I wanted to write about. If Hank was driving, I wrote songs, and if I was driving, Hank practiced guitar. And when we got to the hotel/campground/airbnb, Hank would practice guitar and I would lay in the hammock or wherever and write songs. 30 sounds less crazy if you think about writing for an hour or more every day on a three-month road trip, actually, to me it sounds like it should be more, haha.

What can audiences expect from your debut EP, “What Is Living Above The Light”?

Hank: They can expect a very personal and unique experience. One of the things we agree is important when it comes to music is connecting directly from the artist to the audience. We don’t like disingenuity, especially not when it comes to art and we hope that when people listen to this album they can get into the headspace of setting off in an entirely new direction and the implications for the people who do that.

The EP is comprised of 6 songs. Do you plan on releasing some of those other 30+ songs written on the road?

Hannah: I’m working on new singles right now, and I have a very specific thing I’m going for, and it could possibly use some lyrics I’ve already written, but probably won’t. I’m just in a different headspace at the moment, and I like the music I put out to represent where I was mentally at the time I put it out. But I don’t doubt that I’ll at some point return to the headspace I was in when I wrote some of those 30, and then I’ll put them out there. So, short answer: probably. 🙂

How would you describe your musical style?

Hank: I would describe it as washed out and ethereal. The guitars are completely awash in reverb and really blend together to create this roiling cushion that Hannahs vocals float above. With minimalist percussion and instrumentation, the feeling is familiar and isolating.

Hannah: It’s also still evolving. Our EP has a very lo-fi, DIY vibe that many of our listeners are describing as nostalgic, which is nice. I think we both ultimately want to settle into a style very similar, but a bit heavier beat-wise.

How do you both complement each other as artists?

Hank: I think that it’s always valuable to have another set of eyes on a project. Tunnel vision is real and sometimes it’s really helpful to have someone else come check out what you’re working on and give their input. I think that Hannah is really great at capturing a vocal quality that gives her songs their soul, and my job is often finding a guitar tone or instrument that lets the song breathe and move.

Hannah: Totally agree with this. Based on our musical backgrounds, we also have completely different approaches to songwriting, and I think that’s been absolutely instrumental in creating the unique sound we are really proud of. Like I’ll be struggling to come up with a chord because the progressions which make up like 95 percent of songs today all sound wrong. And Hank will just start strumming weird chords he’s been playing around with because he doesn’t have that almost-jaded attitude toward common progressions that you start to develop after studying music theory for so long, and he’ll find a perfect chord for the mood I’m trying to create that way. It is awesome and so helpful, and really is very complementary to my shortcomings.

What’s next for you two?

Hannah: I’d like to put out multiple singles on my solo project as well as with Inanna during summer. I’m working on the former currently, and hopefully, we’ll get started on the latter next week!

What advice would you have for aspiring singers/songwriters?

Hannah: Hm, this is the hardest question on here… There’s a lot I could say but I think the main one is that in the age of the internet, the only thing keeping you from achieving your goals is yourself. There are limitless educational resources, methods to communicate with people all over the planet, and a multitude of ways to share your music, all available online, for free. All the tools you could possibly need are there, so use them. Realize what your fears or hang-ups are, and overcome them. And don’t be afraid of rejection, lol.

Let the readers know where to find you online.

Instagram is @inanna__na (two underscores), twitter is @inanna_na (one underscore), and our EP is available everywhere now (including spotify, soundcloud, and youtube!)