Carlie Hanson is a young singer-songwriter from Wisconsin who has garnered attention for her tracks “Only One” and “Numb.” This spring, she is on tour with Bad Suns and will be in Philadelphia April 16 at the Theater of The Living Arts. The Triangle talked with Hanson while she was preparing to go out on tour.
This interview has been edited for grammar and clarity.
The Triangle: Was there something that you felt inspired or pushed you to start writing music?
CH: Basically my whole love for music began with Justin Bieber when I discovered his YouTube channel or maybe just “One Time” was on the radio. Something about him just really inspired me given how he was so young and posting covers. Back then, I thought all you had to do was post covers to get famous. I just thought that was really cool. He was the one that inspired me to dive into it all.
TT: For people who have never heard your music, how would you describe your sound?
CH: Well, my first concerts were rock concerts. I don’t know if you know the band Lacuna Coil or Disturbed, but the first concert I ever went to was a Disturbed concert. I got introduced to rock music very early on, like probably 11 or 10. So, I have a lot of rock influence, but also I’m obsessed with rap and like I said, Justin Bieber. So there is this pop and hip-hop feel too. It’s a mixture of rock and pop, but I have my own twist on it obviously. I don’t know; I would just say it’s raw, honest, authentic, rock, vibey pop music. I don’t f—ing know; I can’t really put it into a genre which I think is kinda cool to be honest.
TT: So, I first discovered you on Taylor Swift’s Favorite Songs Apple Music Playlist which your song “Only One” was featured on. Was it kind of crazy to think that Taylor Swift had found and liked your music?
CH: Dude, dude, dude! To this day, I still don’t believe she even listened to the song. , I truly can’t imagine. Taylor Swift? It’s just crazy to me. Taylor Swift listened to my song? It doesn’t make sense. Added me to her playlist? It blows my mind.
TT: And you were on the “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” soundtrack. How did that come to be?
CH: So, I’m really good friends with Brett McLaughlin, and his artist name is Leland. He’s an executive producer on much of my music, and he was producing that whole soundtrack. I hadn’t even written the song for the movie, I just had this song leftover that I didn’t really know where to put. It was a perfect ballad for the movie, so him and I worked together on it along with another writer named Dale [Anthoni] who I’m really good friends with.
Yeah, the song worked out great for the soundtrack. I wrote it like a year before the soundtrack was put together. It was cool how it found its home.
TT: I wanted to talk about “Numb” next. It’s the current single. What’s the story behind the song, and who did you make it with?
CH: I wrote it with one of my best friends, Skylar Mones. The day I went into the studio, I didn’t have a song that I could bump to. I love driving around and just bumping to hard, hard, hard beats. I really needed a song that I could drive around like “Yeah, I’m that b—-.” You know what I mean?
So I went to the studio, and I had in my notebook an idea to write a song called “Numb,” but I was not really sure what the whole concept would be. I went in with the idea and talked to Skylar about it. The melody was so catchy that we used it for the whole f—ing song. Like literally, it’s the same melody the whole time, which I think is really cool.
That’s how that came about. I’m hugely obsessed with horror movies, and I thought “Numb” would be the perfect song to incorporate a horror scene in the video.
TT: It’s a nod to the movie “Misery,” right? Is that one of your favorite horror movies?
CH: No, actually it was the director’s idea for that movie. I had never even seen the movie until he brought it up to me. I was like “Holy s–t. How have I not seen this movie?” It’s so, so good. I actually got genuinely scared. Kathy Bates is like very… I don’t want to f— with her.
TT: What inspires you while you’re creating visuals and approaching them from your music?
CH: It’s always different. Sometimes I watch a movie, and I’m like “Oh, that would be really cool to remake for this song.” Or watching other people’s music videos, like I’m a huge fan of Nirvana, and they have the weirdest f—ing videos. Some of them are just so weird. Even like The Foo Fighters, they’re so weird. My goal when it comes to making music videos is to make visuals that make people go either “I hate this” or “what the f— is this” or “I love this.” I want people to think something of it.
TT: The “Only One” video is really cool too. Who came up with that one?
CH: I was working with these two directors; Similar But Different is their name. They’re two girls, and they’re just f—ing dope. I had no idea what I wanted the video to be. I knew I wanted to have a boy in it, like a lover. But, they had the idea of me being a ghost. They added so much more to it, so I give them a lot of credit for that.
And the dancing? I only dance in my room alone in the mirror. So, it was kind of scary for me to hear that I was going to do choreography. But, it actually worked out really well. I’m really, really, really proud of that for being my first video.
TT: So, you’re going on tour with The Bad Suns. What has it been like developing your live show?
CH: You know what’s funny? I’m literally in the parking lot of my rehearsal place right now doing this call. Live has been interesting. I remember at the beginning, I didn’t know if I wanted a band or not, or if I wanted like just track and everything. But, once my band was put together, I immediately never wanted to have just track.
Having a live band has been just so much more raw. It’s so much better. It really is! It’s so much more authentic, and I love that. I have a guitarist who also plays keys, and then I have Tosh, my drummer, and he only plays shirtless. So, all the little ladies love that.
I’m actually rehearsing new songs today, which is sick. I’ll be playing some new stuff, unreleased stuff on the tour. We’re getting like a whole set up now. I’m going to have visuals behind me which I’m excited for. Doing live shows is my favorite part of all of this, for sure.
TT: What have you learned about yourself while writing these songs and performing them in front of crowds?
CH: I’ve learned that I really love to help people. I love to write songs that will really connect with people and make people rethink certain things. Maybe they’ll see a different perspective, you know?
If I weren’t a singer-songwriter, I would probably be a therapist or something. I just love to talk to people and connect with them and help, honestly. That’s all I’ve learned about myself so far. I’m excited to keep going and keep doing this. I’m very excited for everything.
TT: Do you have any album plans in the near future?
CH: So there’s an EP, which is about six songs I’m pretty sure. It will be coming out soon. I won’t say when but soon. And then I’m not sure what time for an album, but I have like over 130 songs. I’ve been writing like f—ing crazy since I’ve been out in LA. The album is definitely in the works for sure.
TT: Okay, last question: Who are some of your favorite artists that you would recommend people check out?
CH: Favorite artists, okay. They’re obviously older, but Hole I have really gotten into lately and I just—ing love their music. Let’s see who else… dude I mean last night I listened to the Billie Eilish album, and I was just like “Who? What the f—? Like what the f—? Literally what?”Lil’ Skies! I love his new album.
Who else? Who else? Joey Badass! He hasn’t put anything out recently, but I would recommend that to everyone. Also, he’s older but Jeff Buckley. I didn’t even know about him. I knew the “Hallelujah” cover that he’s done, but I didn’t know like any of his music and, I’ve just now gotten into him. I’m like all over the place with artists I’m listening to right now, but those are who I would tell people to check out.