17th November 2022
Interview: Amy Bell
Photography: Laura Manners
Veronika Hanl is an award-winning Austrian composer and producer specialising in film, games and television.
Coming from a background in classical music, she studied composition, music and sound production for media at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzburg and worked for a number of high-profile professionals in the music industry in Vienna. Since moving to London, she has been an assistant to RTS Craft Award winning Composer Dru Masters, on several TV series, as well as working with award-winning Composer Walter Mair on films and feature documentaries. She has scored award winning and nominated films which have showcased internationally, including the short, ‘Unter Toten – Among The Dead’ which won an award in the Category Best Soundtrack and Best Drama at the SoCal Clips Indie Film Fest in L.A., as well as Best Short at the Manchester Film Festival and at the Toronto International Film Awards. One of her latest works was writing additional music under award winning composer Isobel Waller-Bridge for the Apple TV series ‘Roar’, starring Nicole Kidman and Alison Brie.
Thanks so much for talking to ReVamp, who inspired you to start creating music, and how does creating make you feel both physically and emotionally?
I would say it all started with my Dad, who is a GP but has always been a musician too, playing the flute and saxophone. Having him around growing up and playing the flute all the time in the house definitely sparked my passion for music in my life. He was always super supportive of me and my sisters learning instruments, and soon I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in music. Music makes me feel whole, I could not imagine a life without it. When writing or playing music I kind of drift off into my own bubble, I guess different things, or dive into a memory or a pool of emotions. Sometimes I just guess a story or an image and it all starts from there.
As TikTok has become a massive social media app, to gain listeners, what do you think the positives of social media are and the negative side?
Well, the positive side is that you have access to a massive platform and a huge pool of possible audience/ possible listeners. And This is where the downside starts: in order to gain listeners, followers you need to be able to create content that your audience can engage with. Nowadays it feels like we music writers don't just create music - we have to think about all the other aspects too: is it sensible, could it be a viral hit on Tiktok, will your Instagram reel attract a lot of new followers, etc, etc. while creating new music and writing new songs, as an artist and producer I immediately think about the visuals as well. Also, sometimes social media is great for finding inspiration, but it can also put a lot of pressure on you to see when others do very well, and you kind of think why is my music not that popular yet? I take breaks from it and see it more as a business tool to connect with others rather than measuring my success by it.
You now also produce music for other artists, what made you want to get into that industry and what is the difference between doing this?
I have been in the film & music industry for a while now. Despite starting out as just a film and tv composer, I was always drawn to working with singers, and music production. Through working with Julia Romana on her first EP and her latest album I kind of really got into music production and alternative songwriting. I think my production style is still very ambient, dreamy, and filmic, but for example, Julia’s music, really fitted her experimental sound too - and now we got a whole body of work that is not just original but also super syncable. I offer my production services to artists but keep in mind that my background is in film composition and the music style I have will always be more acoustic and soundtrack-heavy. For artists that want to go in that direction musically: I am the right person to contact for that :)
You have a new project out ‘Acoustic sessions’, what inspired you to create an acoustic album? Have you always been drawn to acoustic?
Having a background in classical music I am always drawn back to using real instruments or recording acoustic versions of tracks. I appreciate modern production and everything that comes with it, but my heart and creative strength definitely lie within instrumental arrangements and acoustic recordings. In fact, I wanna do more and more sessions like this one - I think it represents the who I am as a writer and artist.
When you are in the studio, what does your typical day-to-day look like, in the process of songwriting and recording?
I usually start by noodling around on the piano or clarinet. Sometimes It really helps me if I see a video or image, I am a very audio-visual creator, I always need some image or story in my head to be able to access certain emotions to write music. Or Sometimes melodies just pop into my head and I quickly write them down on a piece of paper or whistle into my phone!
When people are listening to this song, how do you want them to feel?
I and Lowpines are kind of a storyteller here. We are telling again the greek mythology story of Hades and Persephone. I just want people to enjoy the song and get carried away by the wave-like vibe of the song - the lyrics Lowpines wrote are so poetic and beautifully written - combined with the ukulele and guitar it’s just a very folky and dreamy listening experience.
When do you feel the right time is to bring out a song, and when do you know once it has been finished?
What I have learned over the past year is to strive less for perfection, and more for the enjoyment of creating a song. If you are a perfectionist like me you kind of feel like your song is never finished! and you end up never releasing it. Right now I just try and finish one track at a time and just release it as singles. Nowadays it can be your track just disappears in this massive pool of music that gets uploaded every day, or it gets recognized. Either way - I don’t think streaming numbers on Spotify or other platforms are that relevant for independent artists. It’s more to do with does the work you put out attracts more work by having a professional and good-looking portfolio.
What is next for you?
At the moment I am working on my own business where we pitch music for adverts and trailers. My career as a film, tv, and game composer is back in my focus right now too - and I am working on a bit of a secret venture with a friend which I hopefully can share soon. Also, there is more of my own music coming soon, a lot of collaborations which is always exciting and I just have a lot of exciting things coming up for the coming year.