Everybody stop! (And drop and roll). We have a new artist for you that absolutely needs to take over your Spotify playlists. Thanks to the latest in our exclusive interviews, you’re about to become a huge fan of John Hanifin!
John is in a transitionary time in his career, which makes for a fascinating conversation, as well as really exciting music. He’s a classical musician and former conductor who, for the very first time, is releasing pop and r&b music! His debut single ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ is out on January 18th, and we’re as obsessed with the music video as we are with the song itself.
If ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ isn’t enough to keep you satisfied, then don’t worry. John will be releasing his debut album Clean House in April, and we’ve got all the details you need right here. We won’t keep you waiting any longer, so here’s our interview with John Hanifin!
Congratulations on entering this new chapter of your career! How are you feeling? Are you more nervous or excited for this transition into more pop and r&b music?
It means a lot to me to be here and thank you for having me! My mood is great, I’m excited, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of all this! Most excitement comes with a hint of nervousness, so I’d say I have a healthy dose of both right now. Since this will be my first time entering these new genres as a solo artist, I’m going to welcome all the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Your single ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ isn’t out yet! If you could choose how someone listens to the song for the first time, how would you set the scene? For example, at dawn or in the car…
That’s a great question! There are two ways to approach this track – either in a meditative state where you may be questioning what you’re doing and know a change needs to be made… in a dark room by candlelight and your favorite ice cream! Secondly, bump this track with friends to get you where you need to be! Like most creative endeavors, ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ offers both a deeper meaning and the opportunity to stay at surface level and enjoy it. From a sonic perspective? I recommend bumping it in the car or putting a healthy dose in your pods – but that’s just me!
The music video for ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ is so cinematic! Were there any films that inspired the storyline or the way that the music video was filmed?
In both cases, yes. The story line of me looking back on myself was beautifully captured by Canto Studios. While I was a soloist at The Yellowstone Arts Festival in Montana, Canto was filming, and we immediately hit it off. After a few months, I found myself in London. I would also like to thank Charlie & Orla, the two stars. Without them, this video would not be what it is. In fact, those two are still together today after getting together during that shoot. Artistically speaking, if two people involved with your music hit it off the first time and remain together for months afterwards, there is hope!
‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ has got us highly anticipating Clean House! What can you tell us about the album? Will there be more singles between now and April 21st?
Using Clean House as a metaphor for looking back at the past, I reversed the way time was conceptualized. There are times when the obvious answer that seems too easy is the right one. There is no need to complicate everything. As a matter of fact, I just wanted to clean house and get some things out of my system. Regarding other singles, of course! During the coming months, there will be two additional singles released leading up to Clean House, but ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ seems to be the perfect place to start.
What are your plans and goals for the rest of 2023? Can we ask if you have any plans to tour the album?
The goals I have for 2023 aren’t quite clear yet. It will be interesting to see how people react to this record, but I already have some travel planned to perform & promote Clean House across North America, Europe & Turkey. The new year offers me a chance to do and try something new, so I look forward to a clean slate now that I’ve officially “Cleaned House”. Did you catch what I did there?
What do you find are the core differences between creating classical music and your newer pop/r&b tracks? Is it a completely different process?
In my opinion, all music is fundamentally the same. The only difference between genres is how we manipulate the sound and how we approach simplicity versus complexity. While some of the best classical music is simple, some of the most sophisticated pop arrangements, like Bohemian Rhapsody, become timeless anthems. Once you get into arranging, it becomes a different animal altogether, but the principles remain the same once you have a “hook” and a solid foundation. Most people don’t know that Mozart came naturally to melodies, but Beethoven didn’t. One of Beethoven’s most famous melodies, “Ode To Joy” took up over fifty pages in one of his sketchbooks throughout his life & career.
Whenever you compose for classical ensembles, keep in mind that every note must make sense, and the duration of every note must be exactly what you intended. In addition, you need to understand the limitations of each instrument so that you don’t write something that can’t be played. Ink to paper is absolutely the way to go when it comes to sheet music, as there are no plugins. As a composer, you have complete control over your composition until you pass it on to the musicians.
As someone who has a 360º view of music and is a multi-disciplinary artist, what’s your view on genre labeling? Do you think we’re past that, or is the idea of genres still a useful tool when you’re making music?
I’d like to thank you for that – it’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. However, I still have a lot to learn! Genres are important, they give an idea of what’s to come. What I don’t like is to bottleneck an artist into a genre, put up some walls and label them as “generic something”. If the industry thinks they fit better into one genre, they might be closed off from so many potential fans who might have loved their music. Obviously, it’s up to people to find their new morning commute track & artist, but I think it would be easier if it weren’t so walled off. Since I love all music, I would love to do every genre in every song because everyone has something to offer. I am fortunate to have some wonderful friends and colleagues who keep me on track since I am prone to getting off track at times!
Which current pop artists or musicians would you love to see try out classical music?
Oh wow, that’s a pretty big question! I honestly hadn’t considered it. What’s really fun is reading about rockstars, pop idols, and icons from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Personally, I believe all musicians possess a wealth of knowledge and understanding of their field – classically trained musicians just have a few extra weapons. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than or more trained – just means they might have a different approach to something, which I find crucial if one is trying to get somewhere else. You might receive different directions from a stranger depending on whether they give you the scenic route or the most direct path. It’s not important to say which is which, but we can all continue to learn from each other. Getting into a room with Muse & Coldplay would be the ultimate dream!
You’re also a conductor and founded your own orchestra! What have been your proudest moments in your classical music career to date?
In the past, I was a conductor, and returning to the podium has always been a dream of mine. I started that orchestra because I had the opportunity to study under some of the greatest conductors, but I needed more experience. It was the dedication of everyone involved and the fantastic repertoire we shared together that made that ensemble so special. I will be forever indebted to all those who helped me make this possible since a conductor without an ensemble is simply a person taking a walk. As a classical musician, my proudest moments are not necessarily mine, but of those, I mentor and teach. I feel like I have really made a difference when I hear about their success. They deserve the applause, and I feel rewarded when I hear about their success.
What’s the ultimate thing you would like to achieve with this new album?
Working with others and producing artists in various genres would be a great honor for me. It is my hope that this record will facilitate just that – putting me in front of those who may be seeking a producer or collaborator. Work is my passion, and I would love to do a lot more of it. Touring and performing have always been part of my life, so it is also a dream of mine to do more of that. Despite being a soloist, I am lining up others to share the stage with me in different regions because what better way to experience a culture than to share it with someone who lives there?
If someone becomes a fan of yours through ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ and wants to learn more about classical music, where would you recommend they begin?
Take a look around YouTube and see what you find. In the same way as modern-day artists, you’ll find what you like and hopefully, respect what you don’t. After you’ve done your research, go to a concert! America has some of the best orchestras in the world – orchestras that have been icons in the classical world since their founding. Grab some friends and make an evening of it by finding your favorite composer or soloist. You won’t regret it, I promise.
We’re completely obsessed with the cello remixes you’ve done on social media (especially the Tom Odell one!) Have you got plans to do any more of those, and if so, can you give us a hint as to what song you might choose next?
I’m just having some fun with some artists I respect! In response to your question, yes. My schedule will include a few new ones in the near future, but I’ll mostly be focusing on promoting my own music for now. Nevertheless, I have a blast doing these arrangements, and I always tell people to send me a DM on social media or e-mail me and let me know what they want for me to do because then I have someone who wants what I am doing rather than hoping I am doing what people want.
Thank you so much to John Hanifin for chatting with us about this exclusive interview! All the details you need on ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ are available here!
What did you think of our interview with John Hanifin? Got any recommendations for John’s next cello remix? Let us know over on Twitter @TheHoneyPOP! Or, if that’s not your vibe, we’re also on Facebook and Instagram!
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