Hannah Jadagu: Life Through A Lens

Interview Hannah Jadagu: Life Through A Lens

Documenting the transition into her twenties with frankness and honesty, Hannah Jadagu is shedding a light on herself on debut album ‘Aperture’.

Hannah Jadagu is fast becoming a master of spinning plates. Currently attending university in New York and preparing for the upcoming release of her debut album ‘Aperture’, our chat today is sandwiched between classes; a balancing act the 20-year-old seems to be taking in her stride. Signed to Sub Pop off the back of impressive early SoundCloud releases, her debut EP ‘What Is Going On?’ was a texturally-rich experience recorded entirely on an iPhone 7. Now, ‘Aperture’ is set to build on the EP’s bedroom-pop aesthetics to deliver an experience that speaks of her personal and creative growth.

Much of the album tackles Hannah’s transition into young adolescence, such as her upbringing in Mesquite, Texas: the kind of place, she explains, where there are certain expectations of the people who grow up there. “There’s a lot of suburban fields, a lot of families and a lot of religion, so there’s this value that you’ve got to be with your family and then you’ve got to make your own family,” she says.

Growing up in a largely multicultural area, Hannah never felt like an outsider, but with the majority of people practising religion and leaning into faith, she eventually found herself questioning those ideals as she got older. “A lot of that happened for me in high school; around age 15 you start learning more things and you have a lot of questions about everything. When I started to discover new music and stuff like that, I was ready to think about what I wanted the next steps in life to be.”

That sense of questioning is seen on opener ‘Explanation’. “Everyone is looking for an explanation / Put your faith and hope in something,” she sings, wrestling with the idea of religion as a way of adding meaning and purpose to our lives. How do you know what to and what not to believe in? It’s something Hannah readily admits that she doesn’t have the answers for, as she continually evaluates her relationship with faith.

She credits her older sister for paving the way when it came to leaving Mesquite for New York, but that isn’t the only reason she’s grateful for her sibling. The pair bonded over The Japanese House - one of Hannah’s first introductions to indie pop - with ‘Good At Falling’ becoming an obsession that still informs her work to date. You can feel its influence on ‘Letter To Myself’, a track that lovingly takes its time to guide you through a sonic odyssey on a wave of keys and crashes of synth.

“My older sister is a big influence and role model for me,” she smiles. “They were in New York before me, they were listening to cool music before me, and I think when you’re the youngest, [it helps when] you’ve got someone to show you the ropes and look after you a bit”.

From the R&B stylings of ‘Warning Sign’ to the synth-laden indie rock found on ‘What You Did’ that recalls Japanese Breakfast’s most bombastic work, we hear touchstones of some of indie’s current crop. On the colourfully melancholic ‘Shut Down’, we arrive at its destination via roads paved by Alex G and Clairo.

The latter pairing have been crucial reference points in Hannah’s journey. “I love them both so much, people will definitely hear Alex G [on the record]. And with Clairo, I love ‘Immunity’. Those two I think are great at honing in on this DIY spirit and, at the beginning, they were also in their rooms making stuff. I just admire them still keeping their musical identity, while bringing in other players to help make it even bigger,” she enthuses.

“‘Aperture’ showcases me starting to deal with things that I had never addressed before in my life.”

What makes ‘Aperture’ truly stand out amongst Hannah’s many contemporaries, however, is the sheer scale of her lyrical frankness. Testament to how crucial this period of growth has been, throughout the album we hear of the hardship of cutting yourself off from bad friends, pondering moments where relationships turned sour and feeling disconnected from everyone around you. “Act like it's best we make amends, but I don’t wanna talk to you again,” she declares on ‘What You Did’; “I think you might deserve this, left alone, no purpose,” goes ‘Scratch The Surface’

All of these thoughts are delivered in their most unvarnished form, speaking to the sense of maturity that comes from figuring out how to communicate on your own terms. “I sometimes struggle with being a people pleaser,” Hannah says. “Something I’ve learnt recently, going into my twenties, is that not everyone is going to like you unfortunately. That’s something I’m starting to deal with and sometimes you’re just going to have to know when to walk away from a situation.”

Ultimately, ‘Aperture’ is a picture book; a selection of snapshots that capture plenty of blemishes, yet emphasise just how much our experiences shape who we are. “It definitely showcases me starting to deal with things that I had never addressed before in my life,” she nods. “‘Aperture’ is an introduction to my world when I was 19 and now 20, and navigating that transition into young adulthood.”

It might sometimes be a rocky road, but with her debut album Hannah Jadagu is showing us that the growing pains are more than worth it in the long run.

‘Aperture’ is out 19th May via Sub Pop.

Tags: Hannah Jadagu, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the May 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

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