Sometimes you just need some time to keep your head in the clouds.
Sure, if you’re up there for too long, it’s unhealthy, but everyone needs a break from reality. “sonic96”, the most recent single from Italian singer-songwriter HÅN is perfectly that. It’s quick, and breezy, clocking in at 2:55. Just enough of a reprieve to help you hit the reset button and awaken focused, ready to land. Groovy and melancholy, dreamy and sharp, “sonic96” is distinctly European; top tier indie pop that has many attributes reminiscent of the genre’s greats like Gorillaz, Foster the People, or Metric. And in 2021, a time when dreamy alt pop has been beaten into banality, it’s a gloriously refreshing reminder of just how great it is when a true artist does it the right way.
Words by Andy Gorel
Photos by Laura Allard-Fleischl
You grew up in a small town near Lake Garda in the North of Italy. How does being from there shape who you are?
I grew up isolated and protected from many dynamics, this had both positive and negative consequences. I had for sure a very quiet and beautiful childhood, but then into teen years I started to want and look for more than what I had known so far. I moved out to study at uni and then moved again to London later this year so it’s been a while since I stayed home for a long period.
I think the primary way in which this shaped me was in this curiosity towards other places and worlds, which is also the main reason behind me starting to make music. Growing up in a secluded environment leaves you wanting to know more about what’s outside of it.
You write in English. Do you ever feel obstacles writing songs in your second language, and were you into a lot of English or American music growing up?
I think writing in a foreign language gives you a different perspective on things and how you perceive them. Whenever I think in English the process is very different from when I do it in Italian. Sometimes I feel like I’m lacking some words and precise concepts, but on the other hand I also express things in a way that (probably) a native wouldn’t use and I think this might create interesting solutions. I basically grew up only with English sung music, so that played a part as well.
Prior to Covid you had been on a few big tours and festivals. How important do you feel the live show is to your project and do you have any plans for when it returns?
Especially in this phase of the project, where I finally found the right way to express music and lyrics, live shows are going to be critically important to me. I don’t want to make a simple performance but to create an experience through visuals and narrative. I want people to go home from the shows and be mesmerized and curious to know more about the project. I’m preparing a live show that will probably be ready around fall. We’re doing some test shows this summer but nothing big.
Your newest single “sonic96” is a reference to the late 90s. Being born in 1996 how do you think the late 90s and early 00s effected you as an artist?
I started listening to music when I was a child, so the early 2000s were my background of discovery. I have an older cousin from whom I discovered pop legends such as Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears and one of my first music memories is when my parents gifted me a walkman together with Hilary Duff’s album lol. Obviously my music taste developed during my teen years, but that period represented a first approach to the world of pop music.
Walk us through your “sonic96” world. What’s it look like?
Visually, it’s colorful, bright and vivid. Conceptually is childish and naive. This is also expressed through the artwork, which resembles a child’s drawing. It’s made by Alice Fiorelli (@tulepss), I discovered her through instagram and I fell in love with her style of drawing, I think it matches perfectly with my music. As someone said, childish but melancholic.
This most recent era of singles feels different from your previous works. What should listeners expect in the near future?
The best music I’ve ever made.
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