By Jo Dargie
As Eddie Amador’s 90s anthem goes: “not everyone understands House music. It’s a spiritual thing,a body thing, a soul thing.”
Brought up around House music-lovers, it’s no surprise that Dundee DJ Hannah Laing would grow up to not only understand the power of House music but channel her deep connection with the genre into a successful DJ career. Earning herself live slots around the globe supporting renowned headline acts.
All while running her events and podcast series ‘Hannah’s Choice.’ “The soundtrack of my childhood was the likes of Roger Sanchez, Paul Oakenfold and Sasha.” On reflection, it’s clear those early influences have had a lasting impact on Hannah’s musical identity to this day. She accredits her technical form behind the decks to House icon Roger Sanchez.
“On a technical level, his style of DJing is different from anyone else and brings so much energy. I still to this day watch videos of him playing to learn tips and tricks.” Another significant influence on Hannah’s development is DJ and producer Hannah Wants. “Besides her amazing musical talent, her work ethic and positivity inspire me every day. She has also given me multiple opportunities in Dundee and Glasgow to warm up for her over the years. I will always be grateful for that.” Hannah herself exuberates dedication and a fighting spirit. Like many DJs and music industry professionals, the effects of the pandemic hit her spirit hard.
“Djing every weekend for eight years religiously to absolutely nothing. You feel like part of you is missing. That’s what you have put your heart and soul into. Working so hard to not be in a dead-end job.” Since the first lockdown in March 2020 Hannah has used her platform to share an honest window into the pandemic’s devastating impact not only the nightlife industry as a whole but the individuals within. “I had to get a full-time job at Tesco dealing with complaints as I have no income from gigs. I then lost that job and tried my hand at Hermes and the Chicken Factory.”
She spoke openly about the negative effects this had on her mental health and motivation to continue creating music. Hannah proclaims what most artists can relate to. “I felt like I lost myself for a bit as I had no motivation or inspiration to get in the studio for months. However, I’m getting back into the swing of it now and becoming more accepting of the reality at the moment.”
A successful string of mixes and track edits would come from her downtime. Some of which even caught the attention of Joel Corry and Jaguar. Hannah let us in on the creative process. “The edits that were picked up were only supposed to be tools for my sets. I wanted to create a different version that would fit into my sets. I used only the vocals from these tracks but created a whole new track for them. They worked and gained so much hype.”
Despite the circumstances, Hannah secured an impressive support slot alongside Solardo in Croatia last summer. “I had already played on the same line-up as Solardo at Hï Ibiza, and their manager contacted me to join them in Croatia.” After six long months of not playing live, she jumped at the chance. “It really did hit differently as that was the longest I had gone without DJing in eight years. I had so many friends from home supporting me. It was class.”
Although international jet-set crowds are somewhat of the norm for Hannah Laing pre-covid. She’s defiant that nothing compares to a home gathering. “I’ll always stand by that nowhere in the world will compare to a Scottish crowd. We are so lucky to live in a country full of mental ravers. Don’t get me wrong I love playing abroad but I feel it’s a more reserved vibe in comparison to Scotland.”
During her travels, one destination stands out as pivotal to Hannah’s journey as a DJ. Ibiza. Having spent three summers working on the island immersed in the music, she stated that “It gave me a boost of confidence to network with lots of people. Networking is a major part of an artist’s career and now I have the experience to do this because of going to Ibiza on my own so young.” Moving to the White Isle at just 19, Ibiza is still a summer staple for Hannah. It’s where she first experienced club culture in it’s purest form in the breathtaking island.
Now Hannah is embarking on her new role as Dundee Area Manager for MADE Academy. “MADE academy is a DJ school based in every major city in the UK. Students can purchase different packages depending on what their end goal is. Some of the opportunities included in the packages are gigs in Ibiza etc.
It’s a great concept for people learning to DJ by giving them something to work towards. Students are taught everything from DJing to how to handle marketing themselves.” When asked to share her best advice for budding DJs, quite simply Hannah says “you have to put the time in and practice. If you want to play an event make sure you attend as a raver first so the promoter can see you’re also supporting the event.” But, above all “enjoy the journey and have fun.”
2021 is in full swing, and things look promising for the selector. Hannah has even returned to her previous job as a dental nurse. However, reuniting on the dancefloor is still very much at the forefront of her mind. “I am praying to get DJing again more than anything. I can’t wait for that feeling of getting booked for gigs, being able to put on my own events with other DJs so we can all be together again.” Until that day comes, Hannah teased her remixes have been granted clearance for official release. “These will be out in 2021. I’m so happy about this and I can’t wait to share them with the world.”