Meet Sidibe, The Last Singer Prince Cosigned Before He Died
Hannah Sidibe starts crying when she talks about Prince featuring her song, “I’m Only Dreaming” on his personally-curated Purple Pick of The Week playlist.
“I’d just been feeling really down at the time, and I actually tweeted, do you believe in signs? that day. It was April 10,” she says. Sidibe is wearing a gold jacket and has a lightning bolt shaved into her close-cropped haircut, so upon meeting her, it’s pretty clear why Prince would be into her vibe.
We sat down for our interview at the Record Parlour, an awesome vinyl shop in Hollywood, to talk records, what it feels like when Prince approves of your work, and what makes her feel sexy. Hint: it’s not relationships.
What was the last vinyl find you were super psyched on?
I just discovered Carla Bley. She looks like Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner, but she’s a composer, and she’s just amazing.
Where do you live?
I moved into Hollywood 8 years ago. My mom is a wildlife biologist, and she has the flexibility to transfer, so we came here with music in mind. I had already been writing, and had been singing my entire life in church, but when we moved here, it was so I could focus on my music professionally.
Is church where you learned to sing?
It’s definitely where I learned to sing with other people, but I was born with my gift, I’ve always been a singer.
And how’d you get your record deal?
I had been working at Whole Foods, and there was this couple I’d always see there. After I quit, I ran into them one day, and they were like, why aren’t you at Whole Foods anymore? I told them I’d been trying to sing, and they asked me to sing for them, which I did, and they ended up sending my stuff over to Universal Music! So I got my record deal in a really classic kind of way.
That’s amazing. And then what happened?
So then I moved to London, and put together a list of all these people I wanted to work with, and then got started living this amazing, cool life that Universal made possible for me. It was such a good and necessary experience though. It came down to them spending almost a million dollars on my record, and then eventually, you know, they wanted me to put out a song that I just didn’t think I could get behind. So that was kind of it.
How do you think Prince found your song?
Maybe through Okayplayer? There was a feature they put out, but to be honest I’m not sure. His team never contacted me, he never reached out… he has a curated playlist, and he’d share one song per week, and he’d usually share his own music, or the classics, and then he shared mine.
That’s amazing. Especially because Prince wasn’t the kind of artist that would do that for just anyone.
Yeah. I had hoped that would happen in my life, but didn’t expect that it would happen then.
Who are some of your other influences?
Oh, so that was also the thing about the record deal. I’ve always know what kind of sound I want, and at the time, I really wanted to be making 90s R&B But the label wasn’t into it. Which is funny because that’s kind of what’s coming out right now. I love a lot of the classics though… Sade especially.
Yeah, why do people love Sade so much?
She’s feminine, and she’s classy. And the band created a sound that doesn’t exist. Sade is for sure a band with a specific sound.
Oh, I totally didn’t realize that. That makes sense. Where do you draw inspiration for your songs?
Definitely my life. I’m definitely a hopeless — or hopeful romantic! — Stories, relationships, encounters… I like to feel sexy, and happy, so that influences how I write and sing. And that’s how people tell me the music makes them feel, so that’s good.
Do relationships make you feel sexy?
No. Definitely not.
That’s such a bummer.
I know! I’m being super honest. You have to have that on your own. Especially on this journey — I mean, I hate when artists make it about their responsibility or whatever… I don’t feel like it comes from a relationship. But those feelings of love are exciting.
I guess the feeling of love is what makes you want to be happy.
It gives you the feeling and the desire to connect, and the desire to be desired is exciting. Those feelings make you happy. I mean, nothing can make you happy unless you’re happy. But a good relationship can help with that.
So what things do make you happy?
Record shopping [laughing]. Record shopping makes me happy.