Interview: Versatile Americana Songstress Hannah Bethel Talks Upcoming EP, Midwest Roots, & More

Since the beginning of her career, Hannah Bethel has been creating music that reflects the free-spirited life she lives.

Born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Bethel’s first passion was studying dance and theater, but it didn’t take long, however, for her love of music to start to take shape. Taking her love for Americana, country, and rock music, she blended these inspirations into a sonic stew, establishing her own signature sound.

That signature sound is on full display on her upcoming EP, Until The Sun Comes Back Around, which is slated for a March 25 release. 

Bethel has created buzz for the upcoming record with her previous singles, “Bad News Baby,” which dropped at the end of January, and “Godspeed, Los Angeles,” which made waves on February 25th.

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We had the chance to learn more about Bethel’s roots, epic adventures, and of course the new record.

So where did you grow up, and who or what made you want to pick up the guitar and become a songwriter?

I was born in Wisconsin, and my passion for performing began in dance and musical theater. My family moved to Northern Michigan when I was 12, and those opportunities didn’t exist there. I started playing guitar and writing so I could put on shows without needing anyone else. Being on stage was and is my happiest place, and I did everything I could to spent as much time on stage as possible! I started performing at the mall, fairs, festivals, bars, coffee shops, anywhere that would have me! 

I see that you are an avid traveler, which naturally goes hand in hand with songwriters. What places and experiences have been the most profound and inspirational when it comes to your music?

Everywhere I have traveled has left an imprint on my heart. Every show, every city, every adventure. I feel so lucky and grateful to have experienced as much of the country as I have. The wild deserts of Arizona and the lonely mountains of Alaska have inspired me the most. Every year that I spend living in Tennessee, I fall more in love with the land here. What a great planet we live on! 

So I was hoping you could talk a little about your first single, “Bad News Baby.” What’s the backstory and influence behind this track?

“Bad News Baby” is one of those songs that feels like it was channeled. Like I didn’t work to write it, it just came through me. It’s about being so intoxicated by infatuation that you’re seeing synchronicities and signs everywhere, and completely blinded to the truth. 

And what made you want this particular song to be the lead single?

I love the feeling of this song. It’s different than anything I’ve released before. I loved the idea of leading with a song that is both vulnerable and unexpected. It sets the mood for the rest of the record that will follow in March! 

I see that you assembled a very notable team of musicians and producers like Sadler Vaden of Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit and Billy Justineau from Eric Church’s band among others for the record. How did this team come together, and what was that experience like?

It took over a year for my manager, Clif Doyal and I to find the right producer for this record. That journey took us from Nashville to Los Angeles and back. We met with some incredible producers, some of my favorite producers in fact, but none of them felt quite right. Then we reconnected with our friend, Tim Craven, and decided that his unique style and his heart were the best to trust with this collection of songs. Tim is the maestro behind curating this amazing group of musicians! Tim is so thoughtful and intuitive in the way that he works, and he did a wonderful job of choosing a team of people who would vibe and complement each other beautifully. It was so much fun to create with Sadler, Billy, Megan Jane (drums), and the other musicians to finally bring these songs to life. 

Speaking of the Until The Sun Comes Back Around, are there any overarching themes or motifs throughout? 

‘Until the Sun Comes Back Around’ tells the story of my last few years of life and love. In this season, I learned that in surrendering fully to my experience, I was able to process and ring out the emotions more effectively. And in this process, I was able to find deeper healing, transformation, and inspiration. Everything we experience is a lesson, and every lesson is a gift. 

Other than Covid reasons, what might’ve been the most difficult part about the writing/recording of this album?

We made this record during an incredibly difficult time. My sweet dog got sick in the middle of finishing the record, and we had to take off a couple of months so I could care for him through the end of his days. Myself and many of us working on the record had to pick up additional jobs during the past couple of years to survive, so we had to coordinate with everyone’s schedules and comfort level. We chipped away at it little bit by little bit. There were many conversations about how long it would be before we could get back on the road, back to making money, back to feeling good again. It was a heavy time. It was a master class in patience, faith, and trust.

Do you have any tour/regional gig plans lined up for post-album release?

I’ll be celebrating the record with a release show on April 6th at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville. Summer and fall shows to be announced!

What other plans or goals might you have in store musically or otherwise for 2022?

Write more songs. Sing them for people. Spend more time creating. Plant a garden. Read more books. Walk in the woods!

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