Hanna Barakat TALKS WITH TMI ABOUT HER UPCOMING ALBUM

How did you get started in the music business?

After graduating from Berklee on 2010, quite literally the day after my graduation ceremony, I was given the opportunity to headline at the Boston House of Blues main stage. That experience was my first true “gig” after being a student for the majority of my life. It was a beautiful experience, and it gave me the great big push out the door of my student life and into my career path. From there, I lived abroad, performing and working with musicians in every city I lived in along the way. I call the years between graduation and landing in Austin, TX 4 years ago, my music business bootcamp. I had to figure out a way to make a living, continue the pursuit of my dreams as a performer, and survive somehow. I started performing as a duo act, playing covers in bars, to pay the bills, and eventually practiced enough to hold my own on guitar for solo gigs. From there, I continued to grow as a musician, as a cover artist, and as an original artist, with the hopes of slowly weaning myself out of performing cover gigs and only performing my original materials. I am still not fully weaned, but I am working hard on it every waking moment!

You are gearing up for the release of your new album! Can you tell us what this album means to you?

If I were to tell you my life story, I think you would agree that I’ve had a fairly unique upbringing. The chain of events leading up to this point in my life have definitely afforded me a strong sense of self, a ravenous curiosity towards the world around me, and a slightly weathered heart. It took me nearly 10 years to create this record, and it took me over a year to produce these ten precious songs with my incredible producer, John Moyer of Disturbed. Those 10 years’ history would take too long to explain, but in short, I had to live first. I had glimpses of my own music captured, over the years, but they were incomplete. They were not ready. I was not ready. It was a grueling process to get to the point where I am now with my record. My songs have gone through tremendous transformations and the ones that have made it through – well, they are a labor of love, a digital memory, my life story, my love.

How excited are you to get this project out into the world?

Honestly, I am bursting! This album has been so long in the making, and I must admit, the initial terror of releasing my first musical “child”, my debut single, Wildfire, to the world was quite horrific. The level of anxiety and buildup leading to that first release was excruciating. But since then, I’ve just been flooded with nothing but excitement, anticipation, and a small sense of relief. These songs have been given all my attention and love and it’s time to share them with you all.

How did this album come about? & Can you tell us the meaning behind the album?

I chose the title, Siren, for my debut record, after my producer, John Moyer, and I produced our final song together, which happened to be Siren. I was hesitant to even introduce this song to John, but after 4 days in my studio, production was completed, and It just blew our minds! The power of the music and the lyrics filled me with such fire. It motivated me and inspired me to take this next step in my journey with such confidence. Though the song references the mythical sirens of the sea, I loved the idea of a double meaning – An actual siren, warning call, alarm! The songs on this record were written over a span of 10 years. I can hardly believe it, but it’s the truth. These songs have been my comfort and my therapy, as I’ve journeyed this world, witnessed injustices, engrossed myself in my ancestral culture, grown within myself, literally travelled the globe, loved, lost, failed, loved again, and struggled to reach the place where I am today.

Some songs travel through the complexity of relationships, the balance of strengths, messy breakups that resolve with constantly falling back into old habits with ones significant others yet again. While other songs touch on anguishing sociopolitical situations that plague the world today. I want to bring awareness to these situations, not by forcing any political agenda, but by pushing for love, understanding, and acceptance of all the other humans walking this earth together. Throughout history, there have been unnatural walls physically erected, or socially accepted and perpetuated, in order to divide people. I want to tear those walls down. All of them. Through my music, with rock guitars, heavy drums, deep rhythmic bass lines, and my intricate vocal melodic lines and punchy harmony stacks, I have chosen to forge Arabic instruments like the oud, kanun, frame drum, riqq, into my sonic landscape, where I feel they so naturally and appropriately belong.

Any fun moments while creating the album?

I have to say, the production side of things was almost always tremendously fun, as long as we weren’t having any fluke computer/software malfunctions that completely f’d up our plans for the day. my producer, john, and i spent countless hours over the course of one year, producing one song at a time, between john’s excursions off into his other world, quite literally on the world stage, with disturbed, gearing up for their current world tour. the arranging and production process was so intricate and i grew so much as a musician, arranger, player, and as an assistant producer. of course, on the spot, i can’t think of any funny anecdotes! sheesh! every day was something! I will say, one of my sweetest memories in the studio was always when john heard that one new sweet spot in a song, he’d start dancing in his chair, and i always knew, in those moments, we had struck sonic gold. It was damn adorable and quite validating, as well.

What song are you most excited to perform from this new album?

It’s exhilarating to perform all of my songs live, but if i had to play favorites, i would choose siren and damage done. They hold a lot of meaning for me and fill me with such a powerful driving force. they are so exciting to play each and every time.

What does it feel like to perform your own music live in front of your supporters?

It feels like ecstasy. it’s always slightly horrifying to bear your soul, in words, in motion, in the flesh, in front of god knows how many people at a time, but simultaneously, it’s the best feeling on earth. It’s what i have strived to do my entire existence, and i am finally doing it. it’s magic.

You just released another single off the album, what has your reaction been to the success of the new singles?

i am so proud of my babies! lol! they are out there, swimming hard upstream, trying to make it as far as they can! I’ve received extremely positive feedback from fans and press, and I’ve gained a lot of new fans over the past couple of months since my first release. each and every release brings a lot of positive reactions and new stepping stones for me to climb towards the release of the record!

How do you want your relationship to be with your supporters?

I would like to stay as personally connected to them as possible. I love interacting with fans online, especially on facebook. and i can’t wait to get out on the road and meet some of these awesome people face to face.

What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?

I’m bracing for it, but i haven’t had any completely outrageous fan encounter just yet! i have had a couple handfuls of wedding proposals through social media, in my DM’s. One particularly persistent man cooked a meal, took photos of it, sent it to me, and then asked to see my lady parts. that resulted in some quick ‘blocking’… It’s all innocent until it’s up close and personal. so far, I’ve had mostly positive, sometimes peculiar, interactions with my fans.

What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your supporters?

I am on instagram and facebook every day and i love responding to supporters as much as i can! find me folks!

Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?

Right now, 100% of my focus and attention is going into the release of this record. i have a cd release concert and party at come and take it live in austin, tx, on august 30th, and i am over the moon about it. i cannot wait for the show! aside from that, my producer, john, and i have a little project up our sleeves, but i’m going to keep that one to myself for a little while longer.

Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?

I am so grateful for all the love and support during this process. as I’ve said, this record is a labor of love for me. My music is rooted in deep personal experiences, in one way or another. My songs carry a specific meaning for me, personally. When I write my songs, though, my goal is to impart a relatable story or convey a mood or emotion that anyone can connect with and imprint their own meaning towards. Music is a language in itself, and can be translated into any language through the imagination of the listener. my goal is to stimulate that imagination.

i hope you find something within this record that reaches you, touches you in some way, helps you through a difficult time, gives you the strength you might be yearning for, or just simply makes you smile. i hope you enjoy it! Thank you!

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