Hannah Hooper Heals: On Brain Surgery and Cannonballing Into Love
Picture this: you’re a successful musical artist in the middle of recording your fourth studio album with your band, plus finishing pieces for your first solo art show on the side, and suddenly—your body feels like it’s having a stroke. You head to the doctor just in case, and find out you have to have brain surgery.
Hannah says she used creating music as an escape from her reality, and she thinks it also gave her the ability to heal after her operation—which might explain why Grouplove’s forthcoming album is called Healer.
We talked to Hannah about the new album, how her brain surgery affected her creative process, and why she invited her husband (and bandmate), Christian to Greece with her before they had even made out.
People always warn against going into business with your significant other, but creating music seems potentially even more dangerous — what’s it like co-creating with your husband, Christian?
I get to spend all my time traveling, creating, and performing with my favorite person in the world —it’s really incredible. We chose to grow together instead of apart.
What do you two fight about the most?
We both were in relationships before that had a lot of fighting and because of that have really learned to be patient and sensitive with one another. So we don’t really fight, there is a real power in working through stuff before it escalates.
You invited Christian to Greece with you very shortly after you two met—before you even made out—do you think more people should go all-in early in their relationships like you did?
Why would you dip your toe in the water when you can cannonball?
Your new album, Healer, is coming out March 13th, and you worked with some pretty iconic producers. What was it like recording with Dave Sitek and Malay?
Total mind expansion. We grew both as a band and individually in so many new directions with both of them. Both Dave and Malay pushed us to believe in ourselves more than we had. It was liberating.
You recorded the album in El Paso, just half a mile from the border. Can you tell us about how that location helped inspire some of the work on the album—specifically “Promises?”
The proximity of Sonic Ranch to Tornillo Texas put us at the doorstep to exactly what “Promises” is about: the lack of empathy in the leadership of this country is shocking to us.
What are some of the perks and downsides of being the only woman in a five-piece band?
We are actually a 7 piece now, so I’m surrounded by even more dudes [laughing]. But, I really feel like I can be myself in this group despite it being all men, and I can’t say I feel that way around most people. Making music with anyone is a super vulnerable thing—I need to feel safe to create anything and I have that safety with these guys. I can be exactly where I’m at with them, and that’s a beautiful thing. But there is inevitably that time on tour when I’m missing my girls and just want to get off the bus and go hang with them.
We’re so happy that everything went well with your brain surgery. Did you have the surgery done before recording the album?
I had the surgery while we were in the middle of recording the album—which is insane. We had already written half the album with Dave, I was finishing my first solo art show and then we were going to go into the studio with Malay. I was feeling very weird around the opening night of my art show and ended up going into surgery three days after the show opened.
How did that experience influence the music we can expect to hear on Healer?
Knowing I had to get brain surgery made making music even more cathartic. I used it to escape from my reality and I think that also gave me the ability to heal.
How did it change the way you go about your artistic process, or even your day?
My process has always been a deep dive into my subconscious. When I’m making art or music I go somewhere else and see where I end up. But I’m even more grateful than ever for my life and more understanding of the fragility of it and how temporary it all is.
As soon as I heard “Deleter,” it sounded to me like the perfect song to be the soundtrack to an opening scene in a movie. What kind of movie do you think that would be?
Seven teenagers fight to take the planet back from right wing assholes.
The song “Ahead of Myself” totally reminds me of some guys I’ve dated in the past. What was the inspiration behind that song?
When life becomes too overwhelming and scary, sometimes the only answer is to party.
Which song on the album means the most to you and why?
We wrote “This is Everything” in a moment of total appreciation for all that we’ve manifested in our lives. It is a song that really gives homage to living in the moment and being truly grateful for it.
Model/Talent: Hannah Hooper
Photographer: Genevieve Andrews
Videographer: Brianna O’Connor
MUA: Nolan Eakin
Hair Stylist: Kazuhide Katahira
Production: Chelsey Northern