Premiere: “Do U Want It”, Hana and Tao Antrim on Keeping Your Art a Secret
Interview by Tao Antrim
Hana Antrim was born on September 18, 1997. I was four years old, and according to our grandmother my biggest fear was that she would end up stronger than me. Now she’s twenty-one and my biggest fear turned reality is that she’s more talented than me. In the last few years she’s taught herself how to play guitar, make drum beats, and has been consistently writing and putting out a shitload of music under the name AntiHana. I got to see her play a basement show in Boston and it was insane. She just moved back to California to finish her last semester of college, so we caught up via text message for this interview and the premiere of her new music video “Do U Want It.”
Tao Antrim: Hi sis.
Hana Antrim: Hey bro.
Tao: What’s up? How’s the day been?
Hana: Pretty good, I don’t have class or internship today so I’ve been in a coffee shop for way too long now.
Tao: You just moved back to California from Boston. How does it feel?
Hana: It feels real nice. Although, I will say that I was finally starting to really fuck with Boston–just in time for me to leave. But I love California more than words can describe and I’m excited to be living here with so many of my friends.
Tao: Which coast has been more inspiring for you as far as writing songs?
Hana: Ooh good q… I’ve never really thought about that before. I think that most of my songs are inspired by things in Santa Barbara but written in Boston or New York. Being far away from those things I love the most has led to a lot of songs… What about you? Where do you feel the most creative?
Tao: I feel like 80% of my inspired moments happen whenever I switch up my scenery. So whenever I come back to California, the first few days I get so hyped up and thoughtful and motivated. And then if I’m there for too long, the inspiration starts to fade, and then when I get back to New York the process starts all over again.
Hana: I really feel that. I wonder what will happen when you move to an entirely new place. Say, Hawaii… Maybe you’ll write a Beach Boys song?
Tao: Is it pretty safe to say that all your music so far is about love and/ or heartbreak?
Hana: Lol. Almost. Not all of them are about romantic heartbreak though. But if I remember correctly, I think they’re pretty much all motivated by pain… haha.
Tao: I’m listening to your cover of “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” and you know I hate The Beatles but I can’t get enough of this. Thought you oughta know.
Hana: Okay one time I was high and wrote in my journal, “I feel like there’s a significant difference between me and Tao now that I feel like I understand The Beatles”. lmao.
Hana: And thank you, that’s really nice.
Tao: When people ask me what kind of music you make I’m like “umm she sort of does a little bit of everything.” Have you figured out a way to describe your sound?
Hana: No I haven’t really! One time someone described it as if Bruno Mars and Nico from The Velvet Underground had a baby. And I thought that was really funny, and also the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. But it also seems to be constantly taking new shapes, so I’m reticent to put baby in a corner.
Tao: Omg I remember you telling me that. It sounds wild at first and then when you think about it, it’s actually so accurate.
Hana: Are you surprised that I’m so into making music and performing now? Like did you ever see that one coming?
Tao: Honestly, yeah. Like when you first started cranking out your own songs I was like “wtf?” Dad and I were just talking the other day about how we remember when you were like twelve, singing around the house and thinking “hmm, I don’t know about that…”
Tao: And then you just morphed into a butterfly all quick.
Hana: Wtf does that mean?
Tao: Hahahaha, it’s not a diss.
Hana: Uh huh, sure.
Tao: But just like your voice and the way you sing now is incredible and I think back then you were just singing other people’s songs that were maybe… out of your key?
Hana: Hahaha. They so were. Like me trying to hit early Maroon 5 notes.
Hana: But that is straight up what taught me how to sing. Adam Levine taught me how to sing.
Tao: Aww, Adammmm.
Hana: Yeah I remember being like twelve and you playing in the living room and me thinking the same damn thing, “Hmm I don’t know about that.” So many pubescent voice cracks (this is definitely a diss btw).
Hana: But now you have such a pretty voice. And I never knew that that could happen. That you could be not good at music, and then get kinda good at it–at least enough that people toss you a like on SoundCloud. And that’s how I felt about guitar too–it was like another language–it would be nice to know it but realistically? Too hard. And now I know like ten chords.
Tao: That’s the other thing Dad brought up–you taught yourself how to play guitar so frickin’ fast. How did you do that?
Hana: I think I learned how to play guitar “so fast” because I had been on and off trying since I was in like junior high probably. Dad would try to teach me but I would end up getting so mad and being so mean because my fingers just couldn’t contort like that. But then I wanted to turn poems into songs and needed to just be able to play some super simple chords and went from there. Also nylon strings.
Tao: Are you working on any songs right now?
Tao: What genre would this one fall into?
Hana: I’m about to put out a cover of “Hello, I Love You” by The Doors with like a Latin-inspired beat under it so I have no idea haha. And then I made something in my room in Santa Barbara a few nights ago that I would have a really hard time describing. But that being said, I don’t want to be one of those people who’s like “my music is so different man, I just can’t describe it.” So pop. I think pop works.
Tao: What’s your favorite song you’ve written so far?
Hana: So corny but I can’t choose, I love them all haha. Well some of them I’m really sick of and some of them make me too emotional lol. But people tend to sleep on “More.” What song should you and I cover next?
Tao: Well, we’ve been claiming “Amber” [by 311] for a while now. And I bet Dad could do a sick ass solo on there… Who would you say are your biggest musical influences? That’s the most cliché question. I’m so, so sorry, but also actually really want to know…
Hana: UGH. Fuck that fucking question. Seriously every time someone asks I draw a blank.
Tao: I think that’s a good sign.
Hana: There are so many, and also I feel like I don’t listen to music the way it’s supposed to be listened to—not that there is a way that it’s supposed to be listened to, but there are very few artists (if any actually) that I follow and keep up on and know their whole body of work. My whole music consumption experience is sort of on shuffle all the time.
Tao: I feel like that means your stuff is authentically you and of course you’re being subconsciously influenced but you’re not blatantly trying to copy someone’s style.
Hana: Well yes, but I will say I often find myself channeling Gwen [Stefani]. And Blondie.
Tao: That’s so funny, those were the two I thought of.
Hana: We obviously grew up with David Bowie being a beloved household name. And then I also went through that period of learning and listening to everything I could about 70s New York punk and rock n’ roll in general. And every time someone asks me who my fave band is I say The Strokes. But then also growing up with you feeding me rap—Andre Nickatina and Mac Dre and Missy Elliott. And currently my very favorite artist is Rosalía. And I could never fucking forget ABBA. Right now I’m super into all these indie bands with lead singers who are women who sing super high and sound so beautiful it makes me want to cry, and makes me kinda sad because I can’t hit those notes–bands like The Marías, and Tennis, and Men I Trust, and Angel Olsen. Also Goldy in high school and then also Beach Boys and surfy vibey stuff.
Tao: Imma go on record—Goldy is the best band maybe ever.
Hana: No question. I was telling someone about all the stuff I listen to the other day and he goes, “Oh wow that makes so much sense, like especially in the way that you dress.” And I was like really? I thought that was really interesting. Do you feel like the music you listen to has a heavy influence on what you wear? Or maybe it’s more skating?
Tao: Yeah, but skating relates so heavily to music, so its kinda all the same. I was dressing up like Slim Shady for a minute with the bleached hair and upside-down visor… Then I wanted to look like The Ramones…
Hana: Remember when you would have Mom sew your pants even fucking tighter with dental floss because it was “stronger than thread?”
Tao: That was my prime. I’m gonna bring it back. Fuck it. This is probably still a sore subject, but can you explain what happened the first time you filmed the video for “Do U Want It?”
Hana: Haha. Me and two others [Lauren Cabanas and Haley Kreofsky] took two full days and decided to shoot on Super 8. It was so beautiful and gonna be so good and we were so happy and exhausted at the end, and then Lauren calls me a month later and says “Hey, I have some bad news—the lab that processed the film just called and said it turned out all black.” We lost all of it. I cried a little. But it was such a valuable experience to film it with them—both so unbelievably talented. It ended up serving as a practice round because I re-shot it over Thanksgiving break with Lauren and a new DP, Anna [Kuo]. On digital this time haha. But it’s times like those where you get super stressed out or super sad about something not going according to plan that I’ve had to step back and be like, this is all for fun. The minute it starts causing me grief, the point is lost.
Tao: Wow, that was beautiful.
Hana: Yes, thank you, I’m an artist. While I’ve been in LA I’ve been doing a lot driving and my little tape-to-aux converter is perpetually half-broken so I’ve been listening to the mix CDs you made throughout high school and beyond.
Tao: Oh yeah? What are you feeling?
Hana: They’re so good and the names you wrote in sharpie all cool on the front are probably my favorite part about them. How do you feel about the fact that technology is moving music away from the tangible and everything is just online now? Like there are several in there that you made for people or that they gave to you–and just sending a link that says, “Here’s a playlist for you…” is so much less cool and sexy.
Tao: It freaks me out and it makes me sad. Same thing with photos only existing online. Going through Auntie Dawn’s photo albums was so trippy, and cool, and special and having to go through old Facebook, or Myspace, or Photobucket logins to try to feel nostalgic really fucks up the vibe.
Hana: But at least you’re still documenting! I think so many people gave up. And not only do you spend time weeding through your giant-ass photo libraries and curating them into blogs and shit, but you print them out into books!
Tao: I have to, otherwise I know it’s all going to disappear and I won’t have any visual proof of how sick my life has been.
Hana: Literally that same thought stresses me out so much if I let it.
Tao: If a label hit you up tomorrow and said, “Hey, we want to sign you and put you on tour all year next year” would you do it? Are you about that life?
Hana: I think I might just be about that life. That life is scary… Even talking about that life is scary because I think I want it to happen so bad that if it doesn’t and I get my hopes up I’ll be heartbroken? So for now I’m just trying to keep it as something that’s really fun and I love to do… Is there anything in your life you feel that way about?
Tao: For better or for worse, I’ve slowly stopped telling people about what I’m working on/ what I want to be doing until I know it’s actually gonna happen to avoid that same heartbreak.
Hana: I think my new years resolution is to stfu a little bit more. Like I think it would be really helpful for myself and even my #art if I sat alone with my thoughts and in my feelings for a little longer before blabbing it into oblivion with my friends.