Hailing from Monaghan, Rachel Mae Hannon grabbed our attention with both hands with the release of her beautifully summery single ‘Be In Love’ last year. A lasting impression left, those last lockdown months led to her debut EP Like It Is just last month, a celebration of her neo-soul pop approach. A release that is smooth soulful and with great energy, her voice takes centre stage as she self reflects on her own emotions across the EP’s four tracks.
The soulful thread running through Like It Is is apparent in her picks for our Influences Mixtape, the Bossa Nova style of ‘Road’, immediately apparent. Without further ado, here’s Rachel Mae Hannon’s mixtape.
“My debut EP ‘Like It Is’ is all about understanding my own emotions and the importance of communicating these with others. The EP explores the journey of being true to myself, opening up to people, and saying it ‘like it is’.”
Tom Misch – It Runs Through Me
When I first listened to Tom Misch (which was only about 4 or 5 years ago), I immediately questioned – where has he been all of my life? I feel as though his blend of soul, funk jazz and pop is created so well. His upbeat tracks like this one instantly put you in a good mood, and his stripped back, slower songs have an infectious quality that make you ponder deeply while listening. He has such control over his listener!
Peggy Lee – Fever
This track influences me for it’s swing! I love her play of rhythm in the vocals over the repeated clicking sound. I sang this track for my final music exam at school and since then, I have tried to change up my arrangement of this cover by singing it with a vocal loop pedal.
Amber Mark – Lose My Cool
Amber Mark’s production techniques, her use of piano, samples, and harmony stacks were what influenced me the most in this track. I also love how she builds sections of her music through adding and subtracting vocals /instrumentation.
Charlotte Day Wilson – Mountains
This track stood out to me for it’s call and response technique. Although this call and response style originated long before Wilson’s music career, I love the way she incorporates this into a modern production. I also love the mix-blend of acoustic and electric in this track. This is something that I have taken forward in my own at-home production.
Hiatus Kaiyote – Nakamarra
I love Hiatus Kaiyote’s neo-soul sound. I love the ambiguity of their lyrics and the vocal runs that lead vocalist Nai Palm creates. Both of these elements made me consider my own style of lyric writing in a new way, as well as giving me a new found confidence for vocal expression. Their chord progressions in this song (and in all of their songs) is something that intrigued me from the get go. Because of them, I now constantly take chords into more careful consideration in my own music writing.
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
The emotion behind this song is something that I always strive for in the lyric writing. The vulnerability of the lyrics had a direct influence on the track ‘Tell Me’ from my debut EP ‘Like It Is’. I grew up listening to Amy Winehouse during the 2000s when she was in the chats. Her expressive deep singing in the genres of soul, jazz and blues were a direct influence on my performances and writing techniques.
Daft Punk – Doin’ It Right
Although I don’t listen to a lot of dance music, I feel as though Daft Punk’s music is universally relatable. This track showed me the power of repetition in a song, while also contrasting different melodies. Every time I listen to this song, it makes me want to go out and dance!
Nina Simone – Feeling Good
I love the timbre of Nina Simone’s low alto vocals. I also admire her background training in classical piano. As a piano player and alto singer myself, Nina Simone reminded me that these varying ranges for vocalists make them unique in their own way. I remember hearing Nina Simone’s voice throughout my childhood thinking that it was actually male vocalist the entire time!
London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years
London Grammar’s use of ambient pads and atmospheric instrumentation is the perfect undertone for lead singer Hannah Reid’s haunting vocals. Their music is something I never seem to get sick of, and their pad use is something that has influenced both of my released and unreleased music.
Yebba – My Mind
I was introduced to this track by a good friend a few years ago and we still listen to it every time we meet! I really think she is one of the most skillful vocalists I have ever heard. Her balance of straight notes and ad lib is something I strive for. AND this song is a live performance which is so hard to believe – it’s absolutely amazing!