Interview: Singer-Songwriter Hannah Aldridge On Playing In St. Louis

Alabama singer-songwriter Hannah Aldridge will swing by The Stage at KDHX on Jan. 22, alongside fellow singer-songwriter Phoebe Elliot, for a night of honest artistry. We took a moment of her time to chat about her past, present and future.

Hannah Aldridge

Hannah Aldridge

How did you get your start playing music?

I was classically trained on piano when I was young. To me, that didn’t translate into being an artist. What people commented on was my voice and that people liked to hear me sing. So I went out touring and people liked me as an artist and kind of as a character.

Can you recall your first big successful moment? A time that made you sure you were doing what you were meant to do?

I had a song very early on put on a TV show called “Heart of Dixie.” It was the weirdest moment in the world for me when I turned on the TV and heard my song playing on the CW. That doesn’t happen for everyone and that, for me, was everything. It kept me going just playing around town. It pushed me to really tour and keep pushing because I knew people liked it.

Biggest influences? Any that had a direct impact on your style? 

I’m so weird because I have such an eclectic music taste and it always changes. I’m always trying to reinvent myself. I don’t know if I’m confused or diverse in my personality, but I’m constantly trying to do something else so they’re kind of all over the place.

Gillian Welch, I would say, and Jackson Brown, but then also Radiohead was a big influence. Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, and then even Britney Spears. It would be extremely bad of me to forget about my ’90s influences. Christian Aguilera taught me how to sing. The Wallflowers taught me how to write a song. Jackson Brown helped me learned guitar.

How do you typically write a song?

It depends on the situation. Sometimes I try to do a co-write, and we try to make sense of it and make it rhyme. Sometimes I’m just driving down the road and something hits me as a good idea. Or I’ll start with poem and take what I like about it and put it into song format and then change it again and again.

Is there a common subject matter you lean toward when writing?

I think for me, heartbreak is a really big theme. I find that especially right now with the new record I’m working on, I write about the anxiety of getting older and feeling loss and alone. It’s not a story, it’s never a story. It’s very blunt and honest about myself. [The songs} are all about me; I very rarely write a song about someone else. It’s the dialogue in my head.

How often are you home versus on the road? 

In any given year, I’m home less than on the road but probably by just a little bit. I play about 150 shows a year, but you have all the travel time in there. It’s those extra 50 days that you don’t get paid for, those are the ones that are tough.

What is your proudest moment this far in your career? 

I just found out I’m going to play the Americana Awards in London. Once I do that, there might be something else. It just gets bigger all the time and that’s what keeps you going. It’s hard financially and mentally, so those moments really keep you going. It’s a little ray of hope.

What advice would you give independent artists trying to make it, like yourself?

Don’t start [touring] before you get successful. Stay afloat financially. There’s nothing worse than not being able to keep doing music because you can’t keep the lights on in your house. Secondly, go ahead and get ready for everyone to tell you ‘no’ all the time. Whatever success I’ve had is only because I’ve let the door slam in my face a thousand times and then one will open.

You have to be so tough and know that it’s going to suck at first, then it’s going to be great, then it’s going to suck again. It’s hard, but  worth it. However hard you think its going to be times that by ten, but at the end of the day its more rewarding. It’s like parenting (laughs).

What is the biggest challenge you’ve experienced being on the road and working as often as you do? 

It’s the challenge of  being a mom and a touring artist. It’s the biggest internal struggle I’ll always have. I hope I didn’t put my dreams in front of my son and that one day, when he has dreams, he’ll understand and know I’ll stand by him.

Is there anything special St. Louis can look forward to for the Jan. 22 show?

New songs. I’ve got a new record I’m about to launch a Kickstarter for, so all of these next shows will be about promoting that. Everyone’s really ready for it and I’m really ready for it.

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