The music industry is undoubtedly one of the most saturated and unforgiving industries to exist. With an overwhelming level of competition and the constant need to be both a unique and competent artist on the scene, hundreds give up every day. Only a very small percentage ever gain the global and quintessential reputation most unequivocally seek.
For critically-acclaimed artist, Hannah Scott, life had a few more battles to throw at her asides from the already daunting task of making it in the music industry. Diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 31, Hannah now faced the music scene with the added challenges of dealing with fatigue, self-doubt and the obvious pain that arthritis brings. What makes Hannah special, however, is her decision to use such obstacles to her advantage, forging friendships for life, travelling the world and of course, creating inspirational music.
When Hannah’s manager emailed me a few months ago wondering if I wanted to chat to her, I was immediately intrigued by Hannah’s story. Over the next few weeks I was able to gain an insight into Hannah’s rollercoaster of a journey through the music scene, beginning with her roots on an olive press in Tuscany, meeting her close friend and later musical partner, Stefano Della Casa (who as it turned out, had actually worked in the bar she frequently visited unbeknownst to the two of them) and ending here today, where her musical career is only just beginning to blossom into a future of prosperity as she embarks on new adventures, guitar in hand.
In short, Hannah’s story is one of genuine musical passion, triumph and self-discovery – it’s a story that has shaped Hannah into the uplifting and admirable woman that she is today and this is clearly reflected in her music.
1. Why did you end up working on an olive press in Tuscany in your early teens?
I did a degree in French and Italian and as part of it I had to spend a year abroad. I decided I’d rather work during this year than study to earn some money and I found a job in the office of a Tuscan estate. Through the olive pressing season I worked in the office there, organising pressing times for all the local people who would drive in their crates of olives on an “Ape” and leave a few hours later with oil!
2. How did your experience in Tuscany influence your musical development?
I was only 19 and living alone for the first time and alone in a foreign country at that! I spent a lot of evenings playing the guitar and writing music and was lucky over time to make some friendships which really inspired me and have lasted all these years.
3. How did you meet Stefano Della Casa in London and how did your relationship with him develop into a musical collaboration?
We were put in touch by a mutual friend who told me Stefano was moving to London and was a talented bass player and that we should meet up. We met almost as soon as he arrived in London and started off jamming together. I started working closely with another guy around the same time and Stefano played with us a bit and when that partnership broke down, we began working together more seriously, starting with playing and recording music I’d written, gradually writing more and more together and now writing and producing everything together.
4. How did you feel when you realised that Stefano had been working so close to you all that time?
We laughed about it really – it’s more than likely that at some point he served me in the bar at Genova Centrale station!
5. How old were you when you were diagnosed with arthritis?
I was diagnosed when I was 31, which is actually quite late for the type of arthritis I have, Ankylosing Spondylitis.
6. How did arthritis effect both your music and your personal life?
It’s had a huge impact on my life to be honest, not all bad though. It’s definitely made me realise what I want from life and what is important, despite the challenges it has thrown at me. Luckily my pain levels are more under control than when I was first diagnosed, but I do really struggle with fatigue and I sleep a lot!
7. What have been the biggest challenges in your music career due to your arthritis?
Trying to maintain the energy to keep fighting in one of the toughest industries there is. Getting up to go to work the morning after a show when I’ve got home later than the time I would usually go to bed. I find travelling to get to gigs quite difficult on my body – all my joints stiffen up after being sat in one position for too long.
8. What have been your biggest accomplishments in your music career?
I’d say one of the highlights was being invited into Radio 2 to record a live session with Dermot O’Leary – that was amazing! Although I find travel physically difficult, we have had some special gigs abroad over the past 18 months – we’ve played in the USA, Spain, Germany and Northern Ireland.
9. What advice can you give someone who faces a huge challenge as you did?
I think that if you really want something, I mean really want it, you find a way to keep going. It might take you longer to get there and it might not be the route you imagined taking, but I’d say just keep your head down and do the best you can and eventually you will reap the rewards.
10. Did working with Stefano help you through the challenges that arthritis presented you and why?
Definitely – we say we’ve helped each other through difficult times and that without one another we may well have given up in the darkest moments. Physically, it’s been good playing live together as Stefano is able to carry the equipment! However, on an emotional level, it’s also been really important.
11. Where does most of your lyrical inspiration come from?
Mainly personal experiences, life experiences, really. In my twenties I wrote love songs and now I write more about situations and stories that inspire and move me.
12. What is it like working between London and Italy?
The distance is challenging at times, but it’s nice to have some space when I travel to Italy and really be able to focus on the music without other distractions. I adore Italy so am grateful to be able to be there so often. Stefano used to live in London, so he’s always pleased to be able to come back here too.
13. What was the experience like recording Pieces of The Night?
We recorded it over about a year, mostly in Italy but with some sessions in London. It was really exciting to hear the songs take shape and come alive! We were both really keen to put a more substantial body of work out this time around, rather than just a short EP or a single and the outcome is definitely a step up in terms of sound and song writing to what came before.
14. Where do you hope your music career will be in five years-time?
I think we’ll still be making music together – it would be great to be reaching wider audiences across the world and playing bigger gigs and festivals.
I would like to thank Hannah for talking to me and opening up about her struggles. You can follow Hannah on her social medias here: