Here at #WomenCrush Music, we love to support our fellow women, and we especially love supporting our own team members who are chasing their musical dreams and doing The Thing. Hannah DiMo, #WomenCrush Music’s Portland Chapter Leader, recently released her first EP entitled Your Love, It Lies. The EP, which consists of 6 songs, is a melting pot of genres: pop/blues/folk/rock, which are highlighted by guitar licks and vocal stylings reminiscent of The Wailin’ Jennys, a folk-pop female trio.
The title track is an ode to self-love and trusting your gut when in a relationship with someone who may not be all that trustworthy. DiMo’s soulful, full vocals, backed by the swell of an electric guitar, brings home the point that she’s “not yours to manipulate.” “What Do You Want” is a fun track tinged with sarcasm that poses the question to a lover unsure of where the relationship is going (and by extension, may also be a subtle dig at the music industry’s penchant for putting women in a box). On “Leaving California,” DiMo shows a more vulnerable side of herself, bringing out the lyrical poet within to tell the story of why she left California behind. We hear her pay homage to her blues roots on “Blues Avenue,” both in instrumentation and word-play. “Love Is All There Is” is a soothing track when you need some time to unwind and reflect on how loved you are and how much you have to offer the world. “Yes Means Yes” is the standout track, a positive, reaffirming spin on the phrase “no means no,” a call for consent with a sultry, empowered edge.
We sat down with Hannah to discuss her musical beginnings, the inspiration behind “Yes Means Yes,” what it means to be self-liberated from the box that is Genre, songwriting, and more.
How did you get into music? Was it something you’ve always wanted to pursue?
I like to say I was made for it. My family is very musical and I just followed suit. There was always music in the house and growing up my mom started me on piano and voice lessons at age 5. When I went into school I was actually surprised that other people had different interests than me: I thought everyone did music! My dad was a singer-songwriter and played finger-style guitar and I always admired it, so when I was 13 I finally picked up the guitar and haven't put it down since. I always knew I was supposed to make music and when I found out I could do it for a living if I worked hard enough, I have been obsessed with my music career ever since.
On your website, you describe your sound as “as mainly pop/blues/rock but also ‘whatever you'd like to call it.’” I like that ambiguity in not labeling your sound. Is that because of the pressure singer/songwriters, especially women, have on them to be in a perfectly packaged box when it comes to their brand and targeting a specific demographic based on musical genre?
It is really hard to label your sound on your own, especially for women because every little thing we do is under the microscope more than men. I started out as "folk" for a while but after a show once someone came up to me and said, "That was amazing, but your website says 'folk' and you are definitely not that." I started saying I was a blues/rock band for a while because I have some straight-forward blues tracks and even the ones that venture out of traditional blues structure have a blues heart, but the blues culture in town told me I wasn't allowed to do that because I wasn't traditional enough. Fair enough, I thought, so I changed it to that description above. But recently I was having a meeting with a great artist in town named Kingsley and she told me to be myself and to not let anyone tell you what you are. Proudly state who you are and don't change for anyone! I really needed to hear that and since then I have been introducing myself as "Hannah DiMo: Rockstar. I play rock n' roll with hints of blues" and I like that description the most.
“Yes Means Yes” is a spin on “no means no,” referencing the importance of consent in any form. What inspired you to write about this topic in such a creative way? What about consent do you hope listeners will take away from this track?The lyrics to this song were actually written by my partner and bass player, Damian Hayes, and I feel as though the message has a nice extra power to it when you know it came from someone who identifies as male. He wrote this song when my friends and I were hanging out at a bar and he just kept seeing men bother us and not being able to take "no" for an answer. He got fed up, wrote the lyrics and said, "I hope you will sing it and turn it into an anthem for everyone, everywhere," so that is exactly what I did. He decided to go the route of "Yes Means Yes" instead of focusing on "No Means No" because of all of the rape cases are coming out from professional athletes and our government officials who get away with it because they "Didn't say no." That is unacceptable behavior and MUST be stopped. Unless someone tells you "YES" the answer is always "No". Period. No more questions asked. It doesn't matter what your gender identity is or sexuality: unless someone ASKS you for it, they are NOT "asking for it." I hope that this will empower people to speak up more in their own lives and for others to stop these bad behaviors in their tracks so everyone can feel safe wherever they go.
You have such a gift for writing clever, thought-provoking lyrics. One of my favorites is “and your words were empty, like the lonely Mojave” from “Leaving California.” Take us through your songwriting process.
Thank you so much for noticing that, but I can't take all the credit for the whole EP. The songs were mostly written as a group effort by myself and my amazingly talented band at the time: Damian Hayes, Elle Archer and Cameron Poehner. “Leaving California” was one I wrote mostly on my own with arrangement help from Elle. When I lived back in California in 2017 and earlier, I was working with a label that I didn't feel had my best interest at heart. I had felt lied to and manipulated at times and the relationship ended up falling apart. I had felt used in this way with my music multiple times before I had met this label and multiple times producers, almost always men, would say, "That's just the music business, babe. Get over it." I refuse to accept that I can only be successful in this business if I cheat, lie and use people, and I WILL be a living example that you can make it in the music business by leading a legacy of love and inclusiveness. Songwriting can be tough at times but after that falling out and losing some important people to me and having to rediscover who I was by myself; I had A LOT of inspiration to work with. This album was pretty easy to put together in that way at least: I simply sat down and wrote out my feelings then grabbed my guitar and it all came to life.
What is your advice to women who want to break into the music industry but don’t know how or where to start?
Stop comparing yourself to others and their journeys. I know it is hard, I do the same thing. I scroll through Instagram and go, "Ugh, she is so much further along than me and so much better, what am I even doing?" but that voice in your head that says negative things to you, you've GOTTA shut it up. Everyone has it and all it does is tell you lies. You are important, and the work you do is unique and needed. NO ONE can do it like you, and the best way to gain engagement and followers is just to be your most honest, authentic self. In a world full of fakes, be real and people will notice. Oh, and document! Document everything. People are always saying to me "Producing good content takes so long and it's so hard and expensive." You don't need to be releasing something new every day, people want to fall in love with you and your journey so if you are just in the beginning stages, document it and tell everyone exactly where you are. They will love it!
What’s next for you after Your Love, It Lies?
Well, the release went so well and I'm still riding that high for sure! I have been invited on TV and multiple radio stations to talk about it, so I'm sure I won't be shutting up about it any time soon. I have a couple more full-band rock songs I need to release as singles, hopefully before the end of the year, and then I am going to start working on an acoustic full-length album. It will be 10-12 tracks and feature as many harmonies as I can fit on it, as well as collaborations from other local artists. I'm giving myself a 2 year plan to release that so please follow my journey on Instagram at @hannahdimo and Facebook at Hannah DiMo. I look forward to connecting with ya'll!
Your Love, It Lies is available on all streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. Keep up with Hannah on Instagram and Facebook.
Interview by Anna Sejuelas
Anna Sejuelas is a New York-based LGBTQ+ writer whose work has been published in MTV, This Bitch Magazine, Her Campus, College Candy, Medium.com, and FLURT Magazine. The way she writes and sings is the way she wears red lipstick and leather jackets: classic and with a purpose. You can read her work here and find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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