INTERVIEW: Carlie Hanson

Pop princess Carlie Hanson chats with us about her writing process and the Black Lives Matter movement… 

Carlie Hanson has been starting fires in the music industry since day one. Her second-ever single, ‘Only One’, has amassed over fifty-five million streams to date since its release in 2017, and there are multiple other releases (‘Back In My Arms’, ‘Good Enough’) that are already chasing that number.

With the drop of pent-up stomper ‘Side Effects’ at the end of last year, Hanson didn’t just open more doors; she kicked them down. With debut EP ‘DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy’, out today (23rd October), Carlie Hanson is carving out an entirely new landscape of music with something to say, for a generation who need a voice now more than ever.

Hanson dived deep into her personal journals for the inspiration of ‘Destroy(x4)’, a collection of hypnotic, brassy anthems with topics that range from mental health and anxiety to drug usage, and police brutality. In what has been an exceptionally tough year for young people across the world, it’s reassuring that this body of work can provide a little reassurance that they’re not alone.

The EP opens with ‘Fires’, a simmering intro that is fitting to showcase the highs an artist like Hanson can rise to; catchy, radio-ready, but with an edge. “Strangely enough I do better writing when I’m going through something,” she says of her creative process. “I don’t write that well when I’m in a good place. No pun intended but I destroy myself to feel normal, I guess”.

A direct result of the experience of moving to L.A. solo, anxiety-anthem ‘Good Enough’ closes the EP, but is a memorable, repeatable experience detailing Hanson’s own struggles with the reflection in the mirror. “That was a very dark time when I wrote that song. I’d just come out to the world on Twitter, I told everyone I’d had a girlfriend; I felt like I was supposed to be in this great place. I told the world something very personal that I would never have before, I had a solid friend group…”.

In between, there’s the supercharged electricity of ‘Is That a Thing?’, wherein Hanson recounts her experience of high school and feeling lost in a sea of people that, when you look at them, you see nothing you have in common with. One of the most anthemic moments on the record, the chorus is sublime, and captures teen angst with a *chef’s kiss*. That Carlie uses this insatiable track to highlight mental health is admirable, if not downright worthy of a standing ovation.

We [Hanson and other songwriters] got onto talking about high school and I didn’t realise that I had all this pent-up shit that I needed to talk about. I felt very overwhelmed, I felt like I didn’t relate to anybody, and I felt very apart. I just felt like a stoner, a loner, a loser, all of the words I say in this song. The verses where I had to get off my medication, that it was really weighing me down “.

Moments like ‘Ego’, which features iann dior, are collaboration dynamite. “All my songs are written by how I felt that day, as they should be, and this was written way prior to any of the political shit that’s going on right now. I went into the studio, before quarantine, and I realised I didn’t have a song that was feeling myself; I wanted an empowering, ‘I’m the shit’ song, so that’s where that came from”.

Confessing she desired to write a song able to “mosh” to, Hanson worked with producer Tim Randolf (Imagine Dragons) and “knew it was gonna be the right thing”. “Months later BLM is coming to the surface again as it should, and it was a crystal ball moment of that needed to be said, and that changed the meaning of what it was. Fuck 12” (12 stands for police in the U.S.).

Influenced by personal experiences and the tragic losses of artists such as Lil Peep, Juice WRLD, and Mac Miller (who all suffered drug-related deaths) ‘Stealing All My Friends’ was a result of a need to discuss a reality that is very much present today. The writing process took a while as Hanson desired to be as respectful to the gravity of the situation as she could, she says “It’s not even about death, either, it’s about when someone gets so hooked on something you really lose them for a long time”.

That song took the longest to write because I didn’t want to be insensitive in any way about how I said certain things; I have this platform that I can use, so how can I not use it to talk about things that matter, and that people do need to talk about”. That track is a more tranquil, reflective moment of the EP, and in terms of addressing the issue in the most respectful way, she’s hit the nail on the head.

‘DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy’ is visionary, and would be a feat for an artist at the height of their career; for Carlie Hanson, with the globe at her fingertips, it’s an incredibly promising introduction to a new chapter. Looking forward, the artist has hopes of finding budding artists who have similar roots to herself; undeniable talent, but with little hope of being found among small midwestern and American towns.

I want to work with people who don’t have opportunities and producers that we have here. I want to go home to Wisconsin and find producers who are in their bedrooms, and who are talented as fuck, but don’t have the resources”.

I want to work with them and give them the opportunities that I didn’t have at that age in a small town. I want to travel safely to different places, find musicians, and help them.”


‘DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy’ is out today via Warner Records Inc.


Image Credits: Jax Dobbins 

Jay Hawkridge

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