artist on the rise:
words BY sky leon
photography by joe hopkins
From musical theatre, to leading her satirical girl band, Thunder Slutz, to releasing her first EP as a singer-songwriter, Hannah Edmondson has had an interesting road to finding her voice as an artist. From a distance, Hannah appears to be the cool, effortlessly calm girl we all hope to be. But in reality, she’s much more relatable than it may seem, facing doubts and insecurities about her music along the way.
Her love for music started with her dad, she says. “He kind of laid the ground work for my interest in music and showed me all of these artists that I’ve carried with me forever.” He also gave Hannah her first guitar at nine years old. “It scared the shit out of me because it was so big, you know. It was very daunting,” she says. “I didn’t touch it for almost a decade. I didn’t want to try because I just figured I’d be a failure.”
Hannah later started to find her voice, as many do, through school programs. “That was probably the start, doing choir and show choir, all the really square stuff that you do in high school. That gave me the idea that I could sing, like I wasn’t too bad,” Hannah said. She continued through the musical theatre route for all of high school, even considering it as a career at one point. However, after attending one semester of Oklahoma City University’s musical theatre program, she decided differently. “It was not for me,” she says, looking back on her journey to this point.
After transferring to Oklahoma State University, Hannah started Thunder Slutz, which was a garage rock music riddled with satirical, witty lyrics, with her two friends, spending the rest of her college career playing house parties to what became a fairly loyal audience. She began her journey into songwriting, writing lyrics that were tongue in cheek or bitingly feminist, all with the goal of playfulness. “It was the right amount of stupid to where you could have fun with it—we didn’t take ourselves seriously.” The experience also led to Hannah finally picking the guitar back up and giving it a try, deciding that if she was going to be in a three-person band, she’d need to play an instrument. As her college career ended, so did the band, but she had created a solid foundation upon which to build her true artistic voice.
After college, Hannah moved to OKC and started taking her music more seriously, and others eventually followed suit. “Instead of doing a whole song that’s just purposefully stupid, or just really clever and has no substance, I’ll do a song with substance that’s a little bit clever,” she says. “Everyone will take it as a joke if you present it as a joke, and if you want to do it seriously, you kind of have to take it seriously.”
So that’s what she did. Hannah started writing and performing her own solo music at open mic nights at restaurant and venue, VZD’s. She says it was a tough adjustment at first, as she’s someone that would much rather make fun of herself than be the cool girl with the guitar. “Faking the confidence. Even if I didn’t feel it, I’d present it like I did. Then [the confidence] kind of comes naturally. Fake it til’ you make it—I guess it’s true!” After a while of presenting her music with confidence, she noticed that others received her sound with more interest, and as something to be taken more seriously.
Hannah has now released her first EP on Spotify, and even played her first full concert (appropriately at VZD’s). Her music, now a far cry from show tunes or garage rock, reflects the growth that she’s made along the way. And although she says she doesn’t typically write about personal experiences, her songs still manage to emote heartbreak and personal growth. Her voice comes through as incredibly pure, some may even say angelic, adding a sense of raw believability to her lyrics. Her song “Whenever,” for example, with lyrics like, “Now I wonder why you only want me when you’re down. Maybe from the ground I look like a winner,” will come across as painfully relatable to many listeners, as she evokes the pains while using her voice as an emotive instrument. The guitar that she was once so intimidated by is also featured prominently in her music now, often played sweetly in a way that complements her angelic vocals while also letting the lyrics speak for itself. Paying credit to the man who bought her first guitar, and grew her interest in music, the song she says is the most meaningful to her is rightfully the tribute she wrote for her dad, Some Dreams. “He’s the reason that I’m trying” she says.
Sadly, shortly after her first real show, the pandemic hit so Hannah has spent this time at home in creative solitude, working on new music that she hopes to release on Spotify soon. With influences like Janis Joplin, Jeff Tweedy and John Prine, Hannah says, “The biggest thing I can hope for is relatability. The biggest praise I could receive is someone saying, ‘Wow I really felt that song.’ That’s what I hope for more than anything.”
Follow Hannah on Instagram @edmondson_music for updates.