One day recently, I was looking through emusic and my eye was caught by the name of an artist: Hanna Malhas and The Overthinkers (http://www.emusic.com/listen/#/album/hana-malhas-the-overthinkers/hana-malhas-the-overthinkers/13372448/: ). The name chimed with me, I thought “that’s what I am, an overthinker.” So I downloaded the ep and was impressed from the very first lines of the very first song, when Hanna sings:
“You sit in your kitchen chair,
Light makes waves in your hair.”
I loved the allusion to physics, the particle versus wave debate, I was hooked. The song opens simply with the bass drum’s beat and builds to epic proportions. Epic is the right word, there is an epic quality to the ep, the lyrics intrigue and the arrangements hook you from the start, and the voice! Hanna has a wonderfully expressive voice and uses it to full effect on both the new ep with The Overthinkers and on her debut cd Shapeshift (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hanamalhas2). This was recorded across two time zones and features a total of 17 musicians from America and Jordan.
Hana (pronounced HENa) comes from Amman in Jordan and spreads her time between there and America, “Chasing”as she says “the summer from America to Amman.” She tours constantly either solo or with her band, The Overthinkers, a fluctuating number of musicians.
I was recently lucky enough to interview Hana, thanks to the wonders of the internet. I had contacted her because I was so impressed with the quality of her cds, both musically and lyrically.
How did you start to write?
I was inspired by other singer-songwriters, how they use words and instruments to express, tell stories - especially with the energy of a live show setting. I was classically trained growing up, orchestra geek and all, but I found much more creativity in songwriting and messing around with the piano and guitar (which I picked up later).
Who would you say are your influences?
I grew up listening to Cat Stevens, Elton John, Beatles, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, early Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Guns n Roses, Bon Jovi, Bee Gees, Simon & Garfunkel.
These days, I'm drawn to the songwriting of - Sia, James Vincent McMorrow, Brandi Carlile, Fink, Adele, Feist and Ray LaMontagne.
In the sense of music creation as a lifestyle - I'm influenced by all the artists that I've shared stages and collaborated with.
How do you write, what floats the creative boat?
No set formula really... Whether the music or words come first, the process seems to always be driven by emotional experience, even if I'm not writing from my perspective. I also like revisiting phrases, both lyrically and melodically. For me, the craft of songwriting takes time.
If you were a colour what colour would you be and why?
I don't really have a favorite color, but I do have specific colors assigned to the days of the week. Seriously. Someone once told me that's called synesthesia. For the record - Thursday is orange, Friday is black, Saturday is blue, Sunday is green, Monday is purple, Tuesday is red, and Wednesday is yellow.
What are you up to at the moment?
I just released an EP 'Hana Malhas & The Overthinkers', co-produced with Michelle Chamuel (Thick Glasses Music). I celebrated with an amazing cd release party at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That was one of my favourite shows to play - because the venue is an artist's dream, but also because I was joined on stage by the Overthinkers (the name of my band). Sometimes we are just two or three, but this time we were 7. Such a beautiful exchange of music energy!
Also, I just released (my very first!) music video for the first single off the EP, 'Just a Dream' (directed by Ali Saloum) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1iicLLf77k&feature=youtu.be ). This was a lot of fun to work on.
What's in the pipeline? What exciting things have you got planned for the future?
There are tentative plans for 2 more music videos for 'How We Love', and 'Run', and I'm hoping to perform more shows to promote the album. Currently I'm traveling in the Middle East, working on lining up a few performances here until I return to the US in the fall to hit the East Coast. Someone mentioned I should stop over and play a gig in London on the way back. Who knows - anything is possible!
I'm also hoping to take some time to write more material. There are a couple of Arabic songs that might make an appearance soon, one of which is a remake of a classic from Mohammed Abdel Wahhab.
What do you think we need to know about you?
I probably should mention that I was born and raised in Jordan (I sing mostly in English, but sometimes in Arabic too). I just moved to Atlanta after years of living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I'm excited to explore the music scene there.
Thank you Hana.
You can listen to Hana at her website: http://www.hanamalhas.com/