HANNAH GEORGAS and UNI IKA AI at the Mod Club (722 College), Wednesday (December 7), 8 pm. $22.50. rotate.com, soundscapesmusic.com, ticketmaster.ca.
Last July, Choir! Choir! Choir! teamed up with Hannah Georgas to sing a stripped-down version of Don’t Go, from her latest album, For Evelyn, which is dedicated to her soon-to-be 99-year-old grandmother. Ahead of her December 7 show, NOW invited me to interview Hannah. I caught up with her on the first day of her mini-vacation in southern Italy after a demanding but rewarding five-week European tour.
Where are you?
I’m in Italy, in Sorrento. We landed this afternoon in Naples, and it’s about an hour drive away on the Amalfi coast, really close to Pompeii. It’s already amazing.
I’m going to Tuscany in December so I’m not going to be too jealous.
The whole reason I wanted to come here was to go to Tuscany. The cheesiest reason ever is because Under The Tuscan Sun is my favourite movie.
Is your second-favourite Beaches?
Oh my god, YES!
It’s an emotional film, for sure.
I’m not kidding you. I love Beaches. But I watch Under The Tuscan Sun twice a year when I’m feeling I need a good pick-me-up or something that can turn off my brain. There are so many nuggets of wisdom and advice that I just love.
I haven’t seen you since we sang Don’t Go with the Choir! at my place. What did you think of the night?
It was really inspiring and special. My mom is a big fan of Choir! Choir! Choir!, of what you guys do. So when I told her that was going to happen, she was like, “Ooooohhhhh ooooohhh! Oh really!!!”
I was kind of wondering, “Who is this woman in my house?!”
The song [Don’t Go] is about my mom. Having her there for that experience and it being so stripped-down, and all the women in the room – there was a moment when I had to hold back some tears. It was an emotional night.
I just assumed the song was about your grandmother, since the album is dedicated to her.
Yeah, I’ve gotten that before. I wrote it about my mom. My dad passed away five years ago, and I thought a lot about being on the other side of the country [in British Columbia]. When my dad passed, it brought my mom and me really close to each other.
What inspired you to dedicate the album to your grandmother?
The record is about my personal shit, uncertainty versus fear and overcoming fear, and she’s somebody who’s gone through it all. I see her as a figure who’s really beautiful in my life and always been an open door. She’s always shown me so much patience, very selfless. She’s someone I would aspire to be or get to be in my life.
Nobu Adilman from Choir! Choir! Choir!
Did you always want to be onstage?
I think so, subconsciously. I’ve been performing since I was five. But the worst feeling ever is the moment before I go on. It never changes. I’m like, “Why the fuck do I do this? I hate my life right now!” It’s anxiety and nerves, the unknown. Then halfway through a song or when everything is coming through my ears perfectly, I’m like, “Great, it’s gonna be great.”
How has your approach to your audience changed over the years?
All I can do is be who I am and give what feels natural and comfortable. I’ve gotten hung up over chatting, being charismatic between songs, and I’m terrible at that. I’ve realized that if it’s not natural, if I don’t have anything to say, I’m not going to say it. I’m going to do what feels comfortable, and that will make me have a great show. It’s about finding that healthy balance.
Who’s someone the world should know about and why?
My dad was somebody I think the world should know about, an incredible guy and musician. He didn’t tour or anything, but that was his passion in life. Then he started his own business as a swimming instructor. We had a pool attached to our house, and he taught swimming lessons to every kid in Newmarket. And that’s what he decided to do for the rest of his life. I think about him and go, “Wow, it’s weird that he sought to build a pool business and run with that.”
He created his own swimming pool complex. That’s very odd.
It’s very odd. My place was the coolest place to hang out growing up as a teenager and a kid. I had an indoor pool with a sauna. If you go to the Y, that’s what my place looked like, but with a house attached to it. It’s crazy!
Are you a really good swimmer?
Yes, I’m a fish. I love swimming more than anything. It’s my favourite sport, and I’m pretty sporty. I did synchronized swimming, and then I was a lifeguard when I was really little.
I’ve never known anyone who has done synchronized swimming, so obviously I have a lot of new questions forming in my mind. What do you need to know?
You need to know how to scull properly. When you’re on your back in the water, your arms have to kind of tread, like you’re canoeing the water with your hands in and out. A lot of it has to do with floating and stretching and stillness, and consistency with all that. It’s really cool.
I’m going way over word count, so we have to stop. What can Toronto look forward to on December 7?
A continuation of what we’ve been doing on this tour. I have a great band with me, and we’re really synched. I’m glad we’ve done five weeks on the road and I’m coming back to do this show. It’s going to feel rewarding and be a nice way to end the year.