By Anjali DasSarma
A window into Hannah Read’s world of peace, luck and ASMR
Hannah Read, known musically as Lomelda, doesn’t really listen to music these days. Instead, she puts her headphones on while she washes dishes in her kitchen, as her new puppy, Bobby, sleeps through the day, and listens to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). ‘My own goal for my life is to quit having a music career and start having an ASMR YouTube career,’ she explains. Earlier this year, she released her album, Hannah, a complicated conversational album filled with delightful twists and intimate reflections on reality.
But right now? She’s just trying to not panic all day. And ASMR helps. ‘It’s like my medicine. Okay, I need a therapist,’ she says laughing. ‘The first time I experienced ASMR was in real life, and I didnt know what it was until years later. I was at band practice and it was just me and my drummer, Zachary Daniel. He was using a metal whisk and scraping his cymbal in a rhythmic pattern. It made a tingly sound and I was trying to sing and play and I couldn’t because I was so overwhelmed by this soft sound. I was like, ‘I love this so much,’ and I’ve just been chasing that feeling ever since.’
Originally from Silsbee, Texas, Hannah lives in Los Angeles now. Both places are carved up by highways and backroads, with plenty of potential for long drives. She tells me inspiration often strikes while she’s driving. The speakers were broken in her first car, ‘so, I would just sing to myself. And ever since then I’ve done a lot of writing in the car,’ she says.
The conversational nature of the album weaves its way between herself and the listener, Lomelda and Hannah herself. On Hannah Happiest, she says, she hears different lines coming from different voices, ‘depending on what pops into my head when I’m singing it, so that’s definitely like a mash up of conversations with different people and with myself.’
And it’s in her conversations with others, her friends and her new puppy, that she finds peace. When I ask if she’s an extrovert, she laughs, shaking her head. ‘I find peace with my friends. I don’t come by peace very often,’ she says, laughing and fidgeting with something unseen below the camera. She quickly corrects herself. ‘No, that’s not true either. I live such a peaceful life. I’m super lucky.’
The album still boasts that recognisable clear voice that Lomelda fans will recall from Thx and M for Empathy, but within songs like Sing for Stranger is something unexpected – a fuzzy chaotic sequence created by Andrew Hulett, who also plays on the record. ‘I recorded the songs several times, before getting the final versions and Sing for Stranger is a destroyed version of one of the past attempts at recording the song Wonder. [Andrew] does some fun experiments with his tape machine and he runs it through and pulls it out and burns it and does all sorts of shit. I basically just asked him to destroy it,’ she says. 45 minutes of destroyed track became the 46 second Sing for Stranger, which is directly followed by Wonder.
‘The songwriting process feels like learning the song sometimes, more than writing it,’ she says. ‘With this record, the question for each of the tracks was “does it have life to it?”‘
And if it doesn’t, ‘what can we do to give it life?’ That usually meant collaboration, sending it around, piecing it together, sitting with it, totally scrapping and trying it again,’ Hannah says.
When I ask her about Polyurethane, the song named after a furniture varnish, she tells me that her dad often refinished furniture throughout her life. ‘So it was just kind of normal to me to keep my eyes peeled when I’m driving around in the neighborhood for free junk furniture,’ she says.
Her room is eclectic, from what I can see in the tiny Zoom window – a little peek into her personality, reflected in furniture. ‘Man, I wish I could take you with me,’ she says, pointing offscreen. ‘But you’re on my computer though. I have this one piece that I found on the sidewalk that was painted this gunky, nasty, awful, brown colour. It was just left on the street because somebody didn’t want it because they obviously ruined it trying to paint it. And so I was actually like only a few blocks from my house was like this big piece of furniture. And I just carried it home and then spent the next six days sanding it all down. And then now it’s just like a beautiful oak wood piece where I sit my turntable and like all my records and it looks so fancy and expensive.’
When she isn’t listening to her records or ASMR, she prefers burning her own CDs. ‘I’m old, okay?’ she feigns indignance when I question her medium of choice. ‘You can get a CD burner for $10 and then you can make mixed CDs for your car.’ And on those mixed CDs, she often reorders the tracks. For her own record, she hopes the people listening will try the same. ‘When I listen to the record, I usually stop after Tommy Dread, because Tommy Dread is my last track. So pick your last track.’
Reordering the tracks on other people’s records is something that’s always piqued her curiosity. ‘I want to make my own tracklist. And I do sometimes, like I’ll just make a playlist and the tracklist that I want it to be. I’ve always kind of wanted people to do that to my records.’
She wakes up Bobby for me, after I ask, before we end the interview. When she holds Bobby up, a squiggly puppy no bigger than a loaf of bread, Bobby’s head slumps to one side as Hannah strokes her. ‘She was born in a tyre and she was all sick and sad, like a week ago,’ Hannah says. ‘But now she’s here and she’s happy and we’re living our very lucky peaceful lifestyle. Wanting for nothing.’
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