Origin: United Kingdom
Hannah Wants isn’t missing much. Originally from The Midlands, she’s now one of the brightest stars in the global electronic scene with a loyal fan base — not to mention a super-busy DJ diary — that continues to develop and flourish on a worldwide scale. A quick look back at the endless summer of 2018 saw a scorching European season that took in everything from Amnesia in Ibiza to Reading and Leeds Festival, where she headlined the BBC Radio 1 Dance Arena for the very first time. “I played my final gig of the 2018 Ibiza season mid September,” says Hannah with a smile. “It’s been another special summer. I’ve been a resident at Amnesia for the past 5 years so it’s a really important place for me. Ibiza is in general. I spent the summers of 2010 and 2011 on the White Isle with a dream to become a DJ, it’s where things started for me. It’s crazy and humbling to see my face and name on billboards and posters and it’s nice to be reminded of where I started and the journey I’ve been on.”
Born Hannah Alicia Smith on the 19th of June, this super-focused house DJ and former professional football player first cut her teeth on the white isle during her first season in Ibiza back in 2010. In truth, she hasn’t looked back since, winning Mixmag’s Best Breakthrough DJ Award in 2014, Best DJ at the Bass Music Awards in 2015 and an iconic Mixmag cover in 2015 that ended up being the best-selling issue of the entire year, not to mention an Essential Mix the same year as the icing on the proverbial cake. Hannah has quickly risen to the top tier of electronic music, with a slew of tracks signed to the likes of Food, Dirtybird, Toolroom and Virgin, a chart-chomping smash in ‘Rhymes’ and a Radio 1 residency; in 2017 she won the Best DJ Award at the DJ Magazine Best of British Awards, and in May 2018, she stood in for Danny Howard on BBC Radio 1, before launching a new label, a new tour and a brand new concept for 2019 which will be an unforgettable experience over 15 different venues.
But more of that shortly, because her days of signing music to other people’s imprints, not to mention the issue of being pigeon-holed in a particular box, will soon be over. In case you didn’t get the memo, Hannah’s new homegrown imprint Etiquette has now been launched. The label has now launched with Hannah’s own cuts ‘Bamboozle,’ ‘Close To You’ and You Keep Comin.’
Other artists from the house and bass scenes look set to join her in 2019. “It’s taken me a good couple of years to find my style and sound as a solo artist. Other than ‘Hidden Love’ and ‘Just,’ Bamboozle was the first track I was completely happy with and it marks a new chapter for me in terms of productions. The music I’m dropping now and the music that’s in the pipeline I feel represents me and my sound as an artist fully, for the first time ever.” Additionally, Hannah’s ‘Get Up Get Out’ remix for Born Dirty feat jstlbby recently dropped on Diplo’s Mad Decent imprint and she also has a remix of BOT waiting in the wings for Riva’s Brock Wild: more remixes will surely follow.
And now she’s ready to show us the importance of Etiquette: her new label, that is. “Running a record label is something I’ve always wanted to do but I’m a big believer in things rolling at the right time and now feels like the right time,” she explains. Etiquette’s music policy will run under the umbrella of ‘House & Bass’ — supporting bass influenced subgenres of house music as well as bridging the gap between the house scene and the bass world. Crucially, Etiquette will not only be a platform for Hannah’s own music but it also has a clear agenda to champion and support both up and coming producers and established players in the game. Watch this (musical) space.
Everyone knows that Hannah’s sweetest spot beyond the studio is on tour and in Spring 2019, Hannah will have completed another round of shows, albeit from a fresh new angle. In 2019 Hannah will be re-branding from PLAY to What Hannah Wants” (literally), playing smaller, more intimate venues and going back to her proverbial roots after four years of large-scale, branded sold-out tours across the country. The 2019 tour will see What Hannah Wants takeover 15 of the best smallest venues across the U.K and Ireland where she’ll be playing three hour extended sets which will allow her to go on much more of a musical journey with the crowd. And as ever, she’s committed to supporting new talent ahead of her own sets. “I think it’s important to help others if you’re in a position to.
In previous years I’ve held DJ competitions where the winners join the line up and play the opening set. I like doing these tours because I can be in control and pick my line-ups; it allows me to work on the production and help others, which is why I did a DJ competition in previous runs of the tour. I’m all about looking for fresh, up and coming talent to join me as supports.”
But there’s more to the world than just Birmingham and The Balearics, and 2018 has seen Hannah Wants play further afield than ever; those memorable events would surely include playing in Australia and New Zealand, and at more events than ever in The United States; Hard, Holy Ship, EDC (NYC & Las Vegas), Mamby On The Beach and Live Out in Mexico. She particularly enjoyed playing at Coachella, but the highlights were multitude and many, including playing to her biggest crowd to date was at EDC in Las Vegas: as ever, the energy was unreal and the fans insatiable. “”I get messages from people who say my music has got them through a tough time or has got them out of bed when they were feeling anxious or depressed. You just don’t know what a mix can do or who it can reach when you upload a mix online.”
But when it comes to UK clubs, Hannah’s path in clubland appearances have been both varied and multitude; Hannah’s’ DJ career has seen her play key slots at Glastonbury, Parklife, SW4, Tomorrowland, Mysteryland and at high profile shows in Dubai, Russia and South Africa. There have also been branded Hannah Wants festival tents at Lovebox, WAF, WHP, Ibiza Rocks, Amnesia and Hideout, which she cites as one of her favourite festivals in Europe; she’s also a fan of boat parties when the opportunity arrives.
Further testament to Hannah’s strength of character was the way she quietly dealt with a cancer diagnosis and after the surgery made the brave decision to turn down conventional treatment and heal naturally and holistically. She went public with her experience in September 2018, 18 months after the original diagnosis, mainly to let people know where she’d been at in terms of a work perspective as her output had been a little slow and also in a bid help others and to be a voice for both natural methods and alternative therapies. Hannah herself has emerged from the experience a different person. “It sure has been one hell of a journey,” she nods. It’s another reminder of how well Hannah has dealt with the rollercoaster that is her ever-changing musical and personal world. “But you know what I’m a better, wiser and healthier person for it and for that I am truly grateful.”
So what next for Hannah Wants? She’s understandably keen to keep an eye on the proverbial prize and move forwards in all aspects of her career. But she’s also aware that once you’ve reached the top, it’s about maintaining and innovating. “To get to the top is difficult, to stay fresh and at the top consistently is harder,” she says sagely. And with Etiquette’s now well beyond the planning stages, it’s going to be extremely interesting to see where the music goes next. “My career in a production sense is just getting started and I’m excited to see what the future holds,” she attests. But if you ask her to pull back and look at her career so far from a distance, she’s clearly got a clear handle on her life and times to date. “I’ve been on one crazy rollercoaster of a ride since I bought my first piece of vinyl and locked myself in my bedroom to teach myself how to DJ. From playing in pubs on karaoke equipment to no one to selling out tours and DJing to thousands in rammed out festival tents, I look at the past decade fondly and with nothing but appreciation for what I’ve seen. I’ve learned a lot, I love my job and I love my life and I look forward to seeing where the next decade takes me!”