Delightfully progressive, dark and addictive, the music of Hannah Louise Clarke as FOE ranges from catchy electronic-pop to alt-rock via jazz and blues influences. It is truly diverse, and the artist’s personality makes for an interesting study. Her ideas come from a range of childhood experiences and challenges. We speak to the artist about her music and inspirations.
“When I write songs it’s kind of like letting my demons out”
S] Where does FOE begin and Hannah end? Is there an alter-ego of sorts here that reverts back to your childhood?
F] “FOE allows Hannah to be something she is too scared to be herself. When I was younger I was always wishing I could be a bigger person, and stop being so shy. Yeah FOE is definitely spurred on by my childhood.”
S] You’ve spoken about hanging round with the “wrong crowd” in school before, so is there a specific example where those experiences bleed into your songs?
F] “Yeah, in a lot of them, but probably in quite abstract ways. I don’t really wanna start quoting my own lyrics here though [laughs] I was forced into things a lot.”
S] What did you want to achieve with the video for ‘Deep Water Heartbreaker’ – it’s a great song, but what was the thinking behind its visuals?
F] “Thank you! Well we did the video ourselves, and the budget was small, so I just wanted to make something that was simple, but memorable. It was also intended to be the first proper introduction to me, as my other videos have been quite abstract, so I thought it would be funny to intensify that, and have five versions of me on screen!”
S] What’s the collaborative process like when you work with Entrepreneurs and your band – are there any challenges or is it a fairly simple process?
F] “We’re all very close so it’s very easy, and they’re great musicians. The music I write is pretty simple though, so it doesn’t take them long to figure it out! I think it’s important we all have a connection, and chemistry. I would never want to have a random session band behind me!”
S] Is there a song from the new record that you feel readily defines where FOE is at right now?
F] “There is a song called ‘The Black Lodge’ [a David Lynch reference] which is probably the most defining song for FOE so far. It’s fragile but angry.”
S] And what about the record – now that it’s done, how do you feel about it looking back on it?
F] “When I write songs it’s kind of like letting my demons out, so a lot of the time, I just move on pretty quickly. Obviously a debut album holds a bit of pressure though! I listen round it every now and then, and it still feels relevant to me, which is good!”
S] Can you talk to us about the main inspiration behind the name and the songs – is there a constant theme behind the new album that moves away from previous work?
F] “I’ve spent a lot of time on my own making music. Probably an unhealthy amount! FOE [as in friend or foe] to me is about loneliness. I can never rely on people, they always let me down. The songs on the album are a lot more personal, compared to the EP.”
S] How do you find the live experience and how do you prefer that to the studio?
F] “They’re both different beasts. In the studio you might think you’ve made the best thing ever and be over the moon, but that can change when you play it live, and pour your heart out to an empty room, or an unresponsive crowd. That said, I do generally love playing live. FOE becomes a real thing!”
S] If you were to make a “Frankenstien’s monster” version of FOE, how would you do that, as in FOE would be made out of the arm of Kurt Cobain and the head of PJ Harvey for example?
F] “I like this question. I think I would have Thom Yorke’s head and brain, PJ’s body, Kurt’s hands…maybe Mariah Carey’s boobs and lungs [laughs] Oh there could be so many good combinations.”
S] This might be heavily helped by your visuals, but if you could rip away the soundtrack to a film and replace it with your sound, what film would you pick and why?
F] “Oh man. Maybe something nuts like Brazil by Terry Gilliam. Something quite dark, but crazy. Or perhaps a Zombie film.”
For more information visit the official FOE website.