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Hannah Wants: Bass Queen

Making her mark on the island.

Armed with rowdy tunes, chopped and cut with precision, Hannah Wants has risen to be one of the most sought after selectors in the UK. Having earned her stripes winning DJ competitions here in Ibiza five years ago, we get the low down with the girl whose feet rarely touch the floor.

When Hannah went out as a teenager, she looked up at the DJ booth and knew that's where she wanted to be. What Hannah wants, Hannah gets, seemingly. Naming DJ EZ as her number one inspiration, she listened to his notorious garage compilations, and honed her skills on a pair of direct-drive turntables. “EZ is my idol in the way he can invent things and keep the crowd hyped.”

After studying sports at uni, Hannah decided to swap keep ups for mix-ups, and flew to Ibiza, throwing herself into DJ competitions. “Ever since 2010 in Ibiza, things have snowballed gradually.” Mainly boat party competitions, Hannah speaks of the uniqueness of DJing when you look round and there's water all around you. The opportunity to play a bit differently arises too, “I can play some lighter, more vocal-house stuff. When everyone's hands are up in the air, the sun's setting, and you're in the ocean. It's just insane."

On top of getting her name out there, the competitions taught her a thing or two, namely the importance of experience: ”The longer you're playing out to people, the more you're learning. I still learn at every gig I play now. It's just about getting those hours underneath your belt.” For advice on how to survive the season, Hannah says figuring out balance is key. “You can ruin yourself out there. I'd go out and party, and then be dead for three days, so I didn't repeat that in 2011, I was hitting the gym.”

Last summer Hannah played closing sets in Amnesia's main room - a slot she reckons is the hardest time to play. Having people from half five till seven, “your job is to keep them in there,” and she found it a massive learning curve. Although, again she can take her set in different directions: “You get away with playing a lot more, whether that's a Madonna or Luther Vandross track. You can adapt your sets in every way.” Following her first gig for Defected in the House on Amnesia's Terrace two weeks ago, Hannah gushes that she can't wait to go back. “It was the most busy I've seen it. It was a little bit nerve-wracking, but I soon felt at home. It was an insane crowd, and it was amazing to see everyone raving on the terrace.”

Playing the terrace landed Hannah's face on a billboard this year. “It was weird seeing my face,” she admits. An achievement she used to dream about, “I used to walk around, and look at all the names, posters and billboards, and think, ‘one day.'” Now that's done with, what does Hannah Want next? “I'm not sure how much higher you can get. I'd absolutely love to be on Carl Cox legendary status, where he's had his Space nights for so many years. That would be the ultimate goal – to have your own brand at a superclub in Ibiza.”

August shall see Hannah in Ibiza for a longer stay with friends, with plans to check out something she hasn't before – she can't wait to, “just be a raver for once.” On top of the four dates at Amnesia, she'll be bringing her What Hannah Wants tour to W.A.R! at Ibiza Rocks, including the closing party, alongside the likes of My Nu Leng, Redlight, and Monki. This summer will also see Hannah playing Ushuaïa in August for Radio 1's 20th weekend on the island, after joining the station as a resident this year. Prior to her budding relationship with Radio 1, she'd only ever sent pre-mixes to radio and had never spoken down a microphone. “It was daunting, but I was so chuffed I got it.”

When we speak, Hannah has just landed in Zante after playing at Hideout in Croatia, and Glastonbury the week before. Crazy schedules aside, she constantly reaffirms her love for what she does. “I've been used to the busy schedule from before I got bigger, even when I DJ'd locally I was driving round on my own doing three or four gigs at night around the Midlands. I'm used to the rushing around, this time it's just planes instead of cars most of the time.”

Hannah's had a successful stint of co-productions with Chris Lorenzo. Dappy did the rounds in 2013, swiftly followed by Kneadin on Dirtybird, with the latest collaboration, Daft Punk sampled Rhymes, released this January. On the eve of releasing her first solo track Just, Hannah says that getting a chart place isn't something that interests her. “If it happens, it happens and great. For me, it's about making music that fits into my mixtapes or live sets.”

Hannah's mixtapes are her way of showing the whole of her as an artist, playing stuff she doesn't in live sets. Starting chilled out, they build momentum before her signature sound of resonated, wobbling bass lines with a house swing fit for peak time comes into force. Ending down-tempo, her latest Essential Mix, for example, featured two Burial tracks.

Hannah has an ever-changing approach to the decks. Incorporating more melodic stuff in sets too, the Birmingham bass line scene from her hometown still finding its way into them, just a little slowed down. “I'd say my sound has matured over the past year, it is bass influenced, but perhaps house with a techno influence. I'm dipping into lots of sub-genres at the moment, and I love it. I'm just trying to search hard for my beats to make my sound more unique.”

“It was one of the worst days ever,” says Hannah when her vinyl decks and collection of records was stolen a few years back. Recently replaced with new turntables, that she hasn't had the chance to set-up yet, Hannah added she can't wait to have a go on them. Having ensured she got some garage classics back, it's something Hannah plans to keep as a hobby. “While turntables are the legendary originals, there are things that you can do on CDJs and rekordbox now. Because I'm a quick mixer, and like to try different things, they're perfect for me - you can do so much.”

“People think I've blown up in the last year, but I've been doing this for a decade,” says Hannah. A pure passion for fueling a dance floor has got her where she is today, and she is living proof that dedication and determination pays off. If this season's anything to go by, Hannah's achieved what she set out to do five years ago after arriving on island with her luggage and aspirations.

View this feature in the weekly Spotlight Magazine, Issue 028.


WORDS | Emma Gillett

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