Hannah Jadagu is an artist who got signed in the thick of the pandemic. Sub Pop Records released her dreamy, vulnerable five-track EP in late April. The 18-year-old bedroom pop musician wrote, recorded, and produced the project using an iRig and an iPhone 7. I recently had Hannah sit down for an interview to chat about her life, her family, and being a dazzling femme musician.
Sofia Krutikova: Hi Hannah, it’s so great to have you here!
Hannah Jadagu: Hi! Thank you for having me!
I would love it if you could describe the EP for all of the listeners.
Yeah so the EP is basically a body of work that I made on my phone using an iRig and my guitar. I wrote it myself and I recorded it by myself in my bedroom in Mesquite. It's a five-track EP that takes you through some of my thoughts and experiences throughout this past year really.
Awesome. I love it so much. The production on it is so phenomenal, and I love that you did it yourself. More DIY producers!! When did you start making the EP?
I started this EP technically when I was still in high school, like a junior in high school. I really got serious about the EP in July 2020 when Sub Pop first reached out to me.
Awesome! Could you describe what each track means to you?
Yeah, do you want me to go one by one?
That would be great!
The first track is called "My Bones." In general, what this song means to me... it sort of covers my experience as a Black woman and what I've witnessed within, you know, America and how Black people have been treated and how its been unveiled within the media this past year.
Moving onto "Sundown." That was a track that I wrote my junior year of high school, and I was really just thinking about the future and sort of pre-college and sort of everything going on, and that was also the first track that really was made off of the EP. That helped solidify my sound and the techniques that I use and how I want to make indie music.
The third track is "Think Too Much." That's like the pop banger on the EP. That's my favorite track.
It’s so good!
Yeah, that is like everyone's favorite, I think. That was my favorite too like to make. It's not my favorite track, but it was my favorite to make and to finally just land. It was a good feeling to get a pop song on the EP. That was what I was going for, and "Think Too Much" is literally about the fact that I was stressing so much about making a pop song and just the future and its like compiled with my friends' responses and my own, yeah that's the whole thing.
The next track is "What is going on?" That's the fourth track on the EP. This is probably my favorite track just because the production of it is so fun, the vocal layers, and just how it came to be—like it went through so many different sorts of phases, and it's really a love song of sorts. Like I am really tapping into the Beabadoobee, Clario sort of writing style, so I love that song—good one.
Then the last song is called "Bleep Bloop." Another kind of favorite, but people wouldn't know that. It's just a laid-back track about mental health amongst teens, and yeah, that's really it. That's the EP.
Thanks for walking us through that! What has been your experience as a femme musician and what advice do you have to other femmes wanting to get involved in music?
Yeah, that's a good question. I think my personal experience as a femme musician has been positive, especially because of the people I have surrounded myself with. My manager is also femme-identifying, Ava. She goes to NYU, she's the best, and she is also a freshman. So having her along this journey and us both educating ourselves on the business helps to establish ourselves. We both study music business in our own right. She is in Clive-Davis for entrepreneurship, and I am here for music business, and it just helps to establish empowerment, so I feel empowered having her in my support team.
I am also backed by my mom and my sister, you know. So I think my experience has been good, especially being on a label like Sub Pop. They are very welcoming and accommodating, and they don't belittle what we are trying to do, and they understand what we are doing and help us fulfill it. I definitely do hang around a lot of guys whenever I'm working on music. It's just a lot of male-presenting people, like a lot of white cis men in the industries. So I definitely do recognize that I have been fortunate to so far have good experiences within the industry. I'm hoping that continues. I understand that it's hard, but I am just doing what I can do, making music and having fun.
And that's all you really can do! I am so happy that you have had positive experiences within the industry so far. That makes my heart really happy and I want all femme musicians to experience the love and joy that music can bring.
What message do you want people to take away from your music?
I have been thinking about this question a lot because I get asked this a lot. Now that it is evolving, I want people to connect to it however they need to; however it works for them; whatever they take away from it. I am okay with however they interpret it as long as they are enjoying it and it's some sort of entertainment to them. That's all that I could ask for, is that people enjoy listening to my music. I have had a lot of people reach out to me for songs like "Think Too Much?" and "My Bones." Hearing that it connects on a personal level is always really cool.
That must feel so lovely! Yay!
Yes it does!
I have some questions about your process for inspiration. What artists are you currently listening to, and do you have any favorite albums on your heavy rotation?
Oh Yes! Speaking of my favorite albums, I have been blasting the Sylvan Esso self-titled album.
Yeah! So good! 2014 or something like that right? My sister put me on to them, and so all day today I have just been listening to it. She's a Sylvan Esso fan and now I am a Sylvan Esso fan. I am also a Slow Pulp fan. I have been listening to the Moveys album this whole year; this has been my freshman album year. The Black Eyed Peas' album called The End, I think it's the blueprint. Don't know if a lot of people would agree, but I love it. If you're into experimental pop, I think that was the ground basis for mainstream experimental pop, so I would look at that.
In general, some of my favorite artists are as I mentioned: Clairo, Beabadobee, Rostam. I like Jean Dawson, Arlo Parks, Dijon; who else am I really obsessed with? I am obsessed with Crumb right now. They are really good, a very musical band.
Yes! Crumb is so good, and they are coming out with new music soon. I am so excited.
No literally so excited! I could go on and on but I will leave it at that. Yeah I am excited for their album.
Thanks for walking us through the artists that you have been listening to. Let's talk about school and classes!
What’s it like balancing school and music?
Honestly, It was fine until recently. It has been like a lot, and I don't know if you can hear it in my voice, but I am a little congested and backed up. I thought I had covid, and I thought I had strep. I went to the doctor. I went to City MD and got so many rapid tests, and we also do testing through NYU every week, and it came back negative for all of my tests.
Then Ava was like, "Dude, you're probably just sick from exhaustion," so I think that tells a little about where I've been at physically, balancing school and music. It's been a lot, but it has been rewarding. It can be done. I don't know how much longer I plan on doing this, but it can be done. It can be done.
For sure, I am right there with you on the topic of school. What classes are you taking at NYU right now?
I am a music business major in Steinhart, so I am taking a virtual concert management class, which is virtual, but I am in that class. I am taking writing courses. What's an interesting class I take? I guess concert management would be the one, but it is virtual. I am in a cams class, looking back on growing up; it's like a college of adolescent and mental studies. Not sure. It's pretty cool, and I take econ as well.
Ooo Econ. Nice. Are you taking your general ed requirements right now?
Yeah, it is like some General Ed requirements and some classes for my major.
What have you learned that has helped your art/music at NYU?
I don't know if there is anything that I have necessarily learned in class that has helped. Well, I have taken music business courses that I am sure have helped in a way, but I think the biggest thing I have learned is that everyone here is definitely their own person but also such crazy creatives. The art of collaborating and networking, in a way, has been beneficial to me and helped out a lot but also has been fun.
Awesome! Okay, this is a question I wanted to ask for myself: What are the NYU studios like? They look so cool from all of the Instagram photos!
Yeah! I think they are pretty cool. I am in Steinhart, so we call it a miscellaneous school at NYU. But my manager Ava is in Clive, and I have been to the Clive studios and they are pretty cool. They have such crazy equipment and such nice guitars and they all work through Logic. There is a lot of space. Yeah, they are pretty cool. I visit whenever Ava invites me over.
Let's talk about New York. What do you like the most about New York after moving there?
I think I love New York because of how many creative people are here. People always talk about the opportunities, but it is really true. There are so many cool people to meet, so many stories to hear, and there is always something to do. There is always something happening in New York. I love it.
I’ll have to visit sometime. Do you have any go-to spots you like to go to?
My friends and I love going to the park, Washington Square Park. I like going to flea markets with my friends like Brooklyn flea, Chelsea flea. A lot of people around here love going to Mud. That's not my thing, but it's a pretty popular spot for coffee. I like hanging in the East Village cause my sister lives over there, so yeah, I like doing whatever I can where I can spend time with people that I love and just having fun around the city.
That’s so beautiful! Yes, connection and community. What was the transition like from Texas to New York?
I moved during the pandemic so in August of 2020, since I moved here for school. I immediately had to quarantine for two weeks. Well, I would have done that regardless but yeah, I quarantined through NYU. When I got out, I was like, there's a lot going on. But you can quickly adjust as long as you put yourself out there and build a strong community of close people. So it's been a good transition. I have had a lot of fun. I had actually been in New York in the summer of 2019 for a summer intensive through NYU, so that was when I had my original culture shock. I think coming here the second time and knowing that my sister is here and knowing a few people here made it a good transition. It was smooth.
How does your family play into your music career? You mentioned your mom and your sister earlier, and I would love it if you could speak more on that.
Having the support of my sister and my mom has been everything. My sister—I send her all my demos, and she is the one who really was the musical foundation within our family. She was the one who started singing first, songwriting first, everything. She introduced me to a world of music and, like I mentioned earlier, Sylvan Esso. She is just the blueprint for everything I do. She's so cool. My mom is along for the ride. She is just like, "Do whatever you love, whatever you want to do." So having that support is so crucial, and it has definitely helped me be where I am today.
That's so remarkable. That makes me so happy.
Yeah, I am very fortunate.
What’s it like being signed to a label in a pandemic?
It's pretty chill. I wish that I could have met the team before the EP came out, like in person. For now, I am just holding onto our virtual interactions. Everyone had been so sweet and so accommodating and just helping Ava and I through whatever we need. I can't wait until everyone is all vaxxed up and we are all feeling better and it is safe for me to go to Seattle and meet everyone.
Please come to Seattle! Come visit!
I will! I am actually fully vaccinated. I am just waiting on everyone else. Let's go!
Me too! Did you get Pfizer or Moderna?
I got Pfizer.
I got Pfizer too!
Ayyy Pfizer baddies. Yup.
Hell yeah. How has the pandemic altered your plans speaking of the vaccine?
I always tell Ava, "if it weren't for the pandemic," "if it weren't for covid." I will just start a sentence randomly, a text, and be like "oh my god, so and so reached out to me and said they wanted to collab like, if it weren't for covid." I honestly feel like if it weren't for covid, I would be less motivated to do this school thing. I would probably be on the road a little bit earlier. I would, you know what, I don't know. It has altered my plans in the sense that there are so many people that I would have already met. Meeting people is such a big part of the music industry and getting out and seeing places and connecting with different communities is so important. So that is how it has altered my plans. I still did want to do at least one year of school, so I have done that, and I will probably still be in school next year and just see what happens from there.
Did you find out anything new about yourself during quarantine that you would like to share with us, with artists going through personal renaissances during Covid?
Luckily I have always been someone who works alone, and it wasn't to say that I rejected collaboration, it's just I needed isolation to work. That's just how ideas came to me. Covid didn't necessarily hinder me as an artist or as a writer. There were times, though, where I did have writer's block. That's where I learned that I definitely need to experience life to write about it or be influenced, to have that motivation or creative spurt. That is something I learned from just sitting there all day. I am not gonna be able to write anything. How is anyone supposed to do that? Someone has a quote about how you have to experience life to write about it and make art from it. Yeah, that's what I have learned.
That is such a good quote. As soon as you said that, I had to take a little step back.
Yeah, literally, I remember sometime in the summer when I was getting so serious about my EP, and I was like: "Why can't I write anything?" I was like, "Oh girl, it's cause you're not doing anything." You have to accept that and be okay with that. Sit with that. Go take a walk and start anew.
Do you have anything else you want to add to this interview?
I wanna say thanks to everyone for listening to the tunes and thank you for having me today!
You can listen to Hannah Jadagu’s new album on streaming services all over the internet! This interview will also be published in the zine, Ra Ra Rebel. Interviewer Sofia Krutikova has worked for Sub Pop Records but all views expressed are her own.