Hannah Trigwell plays The Brunswick, Brighton on September 5, on the back of her debut album, Red, an album she admits has been a long time coming.
But it’s not been time the Leeds-based singer-songwriter and guitarist has wasted. She was among the first to recognise the huge potential of YouTube – and has taken full advantage. Over the space of 12 years she has accumulated more than 100 million views and 600,000 subscribers. Known for her delicate covers of pop songs, Hannah has also experienced chart success with her original material, including number one hits in Vietnam and Laos.
In the late 00s, Hannah was encouraged by her peers to upload the covers she was busking to a new video platform called YouTube. In those very early days of YouTube, uploading content was like throwing things up against a wall to see what sticks, she says, but for Hannah it worked: “Sometimes I will say that I was lucky with the timing that I jumped on YouTube when I did, but it was actually a definite decision. But obviously I didn’t realise that the platform was going to be as big as it has become. But for me, the platform was basically somewhere I could share my videos. I was looking to build an audience for the music that I was making, and it has been great. I wouldn’t have been able to build the international audience without it.”
Now comes the debut album: “It’s a multitude of things that have come together really. I started to feel that I might have enough of an audience to listen to it. It got to the point last year where I had so many songs I had written that were ready to go. But I feel that the way the music industry is going, it’s very much about singles, and it is hard to know how long albums will carry on for.
“I think people are a lot more fleeting now. Everybody has got a very fast-paced lifestyle, and they just listen to their favourite songs from an album or just to singles. I don’t think a lot of people sit down and listen to an album from start to finish any more.
“And that is a shame. An album is a body of work. Even the song ordering is an art. An album is a proper experience. It gives you a chance to listen to a bunch of songs from an artist and really get into their head much more.
“And an album is a story. Before I started working out my song order, I was listening to my favourite artists, people like Adele and Phil Collins and they were talking about how an album is like a period of their life. It’s a very personal thing, making an album.
“I think my album is spread over a few years, but it was all written in my 20s. It is like defining my early 20s. The songs can be about things like relationships, but there is also a song I wrote about my mum and dad.
“It is only when you leave home and you are an adult that you truly appreciate what your mum and dad have done. It is much harder to appreciate all that as a teenager!”
Hannah wrote the song and played it for the first time as a spur-of-the-moment decision at a home-town gig at which her parents were in the audience: “I think they found it quite emotional… but they were also quite surprised!”