This time on The NAS 10 Questions, we get to know Sano Hill, a blues rock artist from Ireland with influences such as U2, Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. His work has been described as defining “a timeless recipe for original guitar music: inventive, humanist lyrics sung from the gut, then embedded in rhythms to barrage or soothe the soul" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). For leading Irish music magazine, Hot Press, Sano Hill daringly “tries to capture the sound, sense and smell of Galway in a similar vein to Van Morrison's finest compositions about his native Belfast". (Hot Press).
The track "CircleWalk" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.
Link To New Artist Spotlight Playlists:
1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.
I am originally from a rural community in county Cavan in Ireland, but I now live in the city of Galway in the West of Ireland. I currently work in education and recently returned to recording my songs after some time away from the recording/performing context. Right now I'm bringing together new and older songs for an album project I hope to release later this year. I've already released two singles from the album ("The Climb" and "Starting Over") and "CircleWalk" will be the latest part of that journey.
2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?
I come from quite a musical family - my mother leads a traditional music band and still performs regularly. She was probably the first to encourage me to get involved with music as a child. I learned to play guitar in my teens and that has continued to be the main instrument I write and perform on. I think I probably started writing my own songs partly out of frustration at not being able to play the songs of others very well! Over time music became more and more part of how I interpret and come to terms with what is going on in life - the pandemic, I suppose, encouraged me to get back into music and to finally record properly some of the songs I've been carrying with me for some time. The working title of the forthcoming album is "If not now, when?" which I guess says it all :)
𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?
I've been influenced by a wide range of musicians and musical styles - Van Morrison (particularly his earlier material, Astral Weeks, Moondance etc.) was a huge influence on me at one point, particularly the personal and folk/blues nature of his lyrics and expression. Other influences have included U2, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Nick Cave, and Radiohead. But I like all kinds of music, from traditional to classical, folk, jazz, blues, and rock, and I guess all these influences have informed what I do, how I sing and the music I make.
"The more challenging (and expensive) aspect is how to get those songs recorded..."
4. What are your goals in the music industry?
To connect with an audience large enough (and generous enough ;)) to allow me to continue to record and release the songs I write. I write music and songs more out of necessity than anything else as a way to understand and come to terms with what is going on in my life - in some ways, the more challenging (and expensive) aspect is how to get those songs recorded, produced and released so they can connect with an audience that can appreciate them.
5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.
My songs begin as melodies that I usually come up with on guitar - though I've begun to write recently on piano also. I could carry those melodies with me for days, weeks, or sometimes months before words eventually emerge to complement the melody - sometimes this can happen quite quickly; other times, it can take some time. I usually play through the melody repeatedly, and usually, words eventually take shape. I sometimes draw on poetry or literature for inspiration, as in 'The Climb,' which was influenced by the poetry of William Blake and includes some lines from a later unfinished work, The Everlasting Gospel. Other times I find inspiration from events in my life or in the lives of people close to me, or from world events - in reality, inspiration can come from anywhere and sometimes the strangest places - I have one (older) song that came from sitting up through the night one time watching "The Shopping Channel" - there is more than enough material around us to draw on for inspiration for songs.
6. What is your all-time favorite song?
A very difficult question! I could pick one from any of the artists mentioned earlier really, though probably the song that brought home to me first the power and possibility of music and songwriting was Van Morrison's "Madame George" - an extraordinary coming together of music, lyric and vocal, all functioning at a heightened level beyond what could easily be described in words. Transcendent.
7. What is the best advice or council you have either given or received in terms of music?
I'm not sure I'm qualified yet as a very new and emerging artist to advise anyone else what they should or shouldn't do in terms of music. I suppose the piece of advice I have received and that perhaps works across most areas of creativity and particularly music is to write from what you know, that is, in approaching songwriting, draw on where possible experiences and/or emotions that are real and authentic. It will be evident in the songs themselves, and audiences are more likely to connect with a song, particularly performances (whether live or recorded) that have this integrity. That's what I try to do in my songwriting and performances.
"draw on, where possible experiences and/or emotions that are real and authentic."
8. Proudest accomplishment?
Hard to say - I guess every time I manage to complete a song that I am 100% happy with in terms of how the lyric and music work together. The release of my first single, "The Climb," in January this year was a proud moment - songs of mine had been released previously on some indie compilations albums, but getting my first single out there was particularly important, and I've been hugely encouraged by the reaction to that single and subsequent releases since.
9. What is something about you that might surprise someone who knows you the best?
The first instrument I learned to play was the piano accordion, on which I played Irish marching and traditional tunes - I played in an accordion marching band in my much, much younger days (unfortunately, there is photographic evidence of this that survives :( ) - I still occasionally take the accordion out for a tune but rarely these days as mostly I'm either playing guitar or keyboard.
𝟭0. Tell us about your highest and lowest points in music so far.
Really hard question to answer - I try not to dwell on low points, we all have them, but I try not to let them define who I am or how I am. Every time I manage to write and release a song is a high point for me - as I said already, the release of my first single, "The Climb," was a particular high point but I'm looking forward to July 29, when my third single "CircleWalk" will be released.
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