Interview with Sano Hill
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I’ve always been surrounded by music – I grew up in a musical family and it was always part of family gatherings and events. For me, music and songwriting was also a way to deal with whatever was going on at the time, a kind of therapy I guess J If I didn’t have music, I’m not sure where I’d be. Or If I’d be. I also work in film education so I guess that’s the other area that’s an important part of my life.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I like to walk and read, and watch films. All of that feeds into my music and songs. The world is very generous in providing potential content for songs if you are open to it, engage with it, and listen.
How long has your band been around?
Music has been part of my life for as long as I remember. I’ve been recording and gigging since the early noughties but drifted away from the music business for a while with other commitments - and in order to pay the rent! During the pandemic, I got back into the studio and I’m currently finalizing an album for release in Spring.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I am based in Galway city in the west of Ireland. Galway is sometimes referred to as the cultural capital of Ireland – it has a vibrant music and cultural scene and that definitely encouraged my interest in getting my music out there.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Sano Hill is a hill behind the house I grew up in Cavan – a rural county in south Ulster – it’s a scenic location of special significance to me and my extended family and somewhere I go back to quite a lot.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Probably playing in Roisín Dubh – the main venue for original music in Galway. It’s a small venue but you can really build up an incredible rapport with an audience there. I played one gig with a full band and string quartet there at one point that was amazing (I hope the audience thought so too!) – it was great to be able to bring additional sounds and resonances to the songs by playing with a larger group of musicians like that.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Probably Róisin Dubh – I’d love to play Whelans in Dublin (another great original music venue). But I’m happy to play any venues big or small that can help get my music to new audiences J
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Oh – that’s some question! I love Nick Cave – that would be incredible to play support. Or Elvis Costello – bandwise, U2, Radiohead, Coldplay - to step on the same stage with any of those bands or artists would be massive.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Practice as much as you can – and then never mind the bullshit or what others tell you SHOULD do or you SHOULD play – play the music you love. Write songs telling your stories and coming from what you know. And most importantly, enjoy it.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and your music.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That’s a really difficult question to answer – of those out there already, perhaps ‘CircleWalk’. It was a hugely difficult song to write because it came from a place of some trauma and trying to capture that coherently in a song was very difficult – but I think I might have just managed. Hopefully, your readers will agree J
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Perhaps ‘Sing Out Loud’ – I get quite a few requests for that and it’s one I really enjoy singing - as it is a song about singing and the importance of getting out there and performing your music.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
My songs begin as melodies that I usually come up with on guitar - though I've begun to write recently on piano also. I could carry those melodies with me for days, weeks, or sometimes months before words eventually emerge to complement the melody - sometimes this can happen quite quickly; other times, it can take some time. I usually play through the melody repeatedly, and usually, words eventually take shape. I sometimes draw on poetry or literature for inspiration, as in 'The Climb,' which was influenced by the poetry of William Blake and includes some lines from a later unfinished work, The Everlasting Gospel. Other times I find inspiration from events in my life or in the lives of people close to me, or from world events - in reality, inspiration can come from anywhere and sometimes the strangest places - I have one (older) song that came from sitting up through the night one time watching "The Shopping Channel" - there is more than enough material around us to draw on for inspiration for songs.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Hope. Love. Connecting with and caring for each other and the world around us. Being true to yourself and others. Enjoying the short few years we are here.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I often have disagreements with myself. As the Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote, “We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Yes and Yes. New single – ‘Dancer’ – out on February 10 – you can present it now at https://streamondistro.lnk.to/Dancer
And then my debut album – ‘If Not Now, When?’ – will be coming out later in the Spring, probably in March/April time and you can find all info on me, my links, music, music videos, upcoming gigs, etc. here: https://linktr.ee/SanoHill