Hannah Wiklund isn’t afraid to express all aspects of herself in her music – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Hannah Wiklund isn’t afraid to express all aspects of herself in her music – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

As she prepares to embark on her Hell in the Hallway World Tour, I spoke with Hannah Wicklund about her beginnings as a musician, her international appearances and the rather unconventional journey to her latest album.

Wiklund grew up in South Carolina and began playing music at the age of four, switching between “fun” songs like the Beatles and more technical classical lessons. Throughout her childhood, Wiklund was exposed to artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Neil Young, all of whom inspired her to begin creating her own music. Although her albums are sometimes labeled as blues, Wicklund sees herself as pure rock and roll.

“If you’re playing a piano ballad, you’re playing an acoustic kind of folk rock,” Wiklund said. “Then it’s like you have some, you know, big guitar solo moments and jam music moments, there’s no other category that covers all of that other than rock and roll.”

However, Wiklund admits that she is pushing the boundaries of this traditionally male-dominated genre. While early in her career she conformed to many of these classic rock standards, she now feels free to embrace her femininity both on and off stage. She even started wearing a crown on stage, giving herself full permission to do “some silly, carefree things that just do [her] happy.”

Embracing her femininity was part of a larger goal, beginning in her twenties, to gather the woman who was offstage and “marry that with what [she] has done [her] a lifetime” as a performer. Although she has always felt confident in her performance and musical abilities, it took a little more effort for her to embrace and embody her unique fashion sense and passion for her art.

Wicklund released her first album in 2018, titled Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones, recorded with members of the band she formed at the age of nine. In the six years since her debut album, Wicklund has struggled to find a manager who fully meets her needs. After trying several different major managers and labels, she decided the best way to ensure she was authentically represented was to become her own manager.

She saw herself as “more than just a musician” but as an artist nurturing a complex work of art. About a year ago, she made the decision to not only become her own manager, but also self-release her latest album, The Prize, under her own record label and brand, Strawberry Moon.

When Wiklund first started recording The Prize, she lacked a bass player. Luckily, her manager at the time was also working with the American rock group Greta Van Fleet. Greta’s bassist, Sam Kiszka, stepped in to help Wicklund with the recording process and eventually became the album’s producer. Greta’s Daniel Wagner also joined the production on drums. Looking back on the recording process, Wicklund admitted that “a lot of things in my career weren’t very fun for a very long time,” but working with Kiszka changed that, and she’s having fun.

Wicklund’s work as a visual artist contributes to her complex musical identity. Each song on “The Prize” has a corresponding oil painting, all of which are scenes of a castle floating on top of a cloud. Describing the reason for the drawings, Wiklund explained, “When I was a kid, if I wasn’t practicing guitar, I was in the living room with my mom drawing mandalas and the ‘Patterns of My Youth’ print that you see tied to this record.” She believes that visual art and music are “natural mirrors of each other, both portraying emotions but each conveying a distinct point of view.”

“The Prize” juxtaposes Wicklund’s dreamy vocals with her vibrant guitar, telling the story of transitioning into womanhood. She hopes listeners of all ages will resonate with this message of universal sisterhood and female power.

Wicklund will travel to dozens of venues on his tour, including Brighton Music Hall in Allston. The last time Wicklund was in Massachusetts was in 2022, when she performed at the Levitate Music & Arts Festival in Marshfield. She admitted to having a bit of a soft spot for Boston and cherishes her chance to play in the big cities. Wicklund has new music coming very soon, and “The Prize” is available on Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and more.

Naomi Zuelling can be found at [email protected].

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