Growing up, Hannah Georgas took piano and singing lessons. Her parents were happy to support her hobbies, but when they turned into a career path she wanted to follow, they “strongly advised that I didn’t pursue music.”
Clearly, Georgas went ahead and became a musician anyway – a successful, multi-JUNO Award-nominated one at that – but for years, her main source of encouragement came from listening to other female artists. “I realized that, subconsciously, those artists all had an influence on why I’m doing what I’m doing,” she says, looking back at the wealth of women in music that she experienced at a young age. “It gave me courage to follow my craft.”
Imprints, her latest EP, released on International Women’s Day, is Georgas’ way of paying respect to those female artists who helped get her to where she is now. The four-song release, her first since her 2016 album For Evelyn, takes on a range of eras and genres: The Cranberries, Eurythmics, Janet Jackson, and Tegan and Sara. The disparate collection is unified by Georgas’ own lush, downtempo signature sound, as she taps into the emotional core of each song and interprets them in gorgeously intimate ways that show that show her familiarity with, and admiration for, these artists and songs.
In a digital landscape that’s over-saturated with covers nowadays – just plug the name of any artist and/or song into YouTube’s search engine and you’ll find endless results – Georgas wanted to make her intentions with Imprints clear. “If I’m going to do a cover, I want to do a cover that means a lot to me,” she explains. “Not something that’s just going to get attention.” The ones she selected, as Georgas notes, represent distinct parts of her past. “I flash back to certain times in my life when I listen to each of those artists,” she says.
For instance, Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” conjures up memories of elementary school for Georgas. She still remembers catching the pop star’s late-‘90s Velvet Rope Tour at Canada’s Wonderland – it was her second concert ever. It’s a vivid recollection for Georgas, who can still remember being mightily impressed by the “sensory overload” of Jackson’s theatrics.
The Cranberries marked high school for Georgas, a time when hidden “bonus” tracks were still a delightful surprise at the end of an album; practically an impossibility now on streaming services. Georgas discovered “No Need to Argue” at the end of the 1994 Cranberries album of the same name, and was “blown away by the fact that it’s just her voice, and just an organ supporting her, and her lyrics are so simple, but so heart-wrenching.”
It was when she was at University that Tegan and Sara’s 2007 album The Con entered Georgas’ life. Introduced to her by an “obsessed” friend, the album became the soundtrack of their drives to school. Georgas says the song “Back in Your Head” reminds her of being out West, where she was away from home and standing at a crossroads between completing a psychology degree and still wanting to make music. It was an overwhelming time, but one in which this album proved to be grounding for her.
Finally, Eurythmics, while an act from the ‘80s, brings Georgas to a more recent time, also in a car, when she hit the road with her guitarist. “Love is a Stranger” was on repeat during this specific trip, and it was a re-discovery of sorts when it dawned on her: “What the hell, this song is so awesome.
“With all the songs, I feel like they were re-invigorated for me, somehow, by covering them,” she says, reflecting on the EP shortly after its release. “As I dug deeper, I realized the importance of these four, plus many other female artists. They were big triggers and were big pushes for me.” (Other artists that made Georgas’ long list of potential covers were Tina Turner, Emmylou Harris, Fiona Apple, and Lauryn Hill.)
While Imprints represents the music that Georgas personally connected with over the years, she didn’t want this to be a solo project. The idea, which she first pitched to Lucius drummer Dan Molad while she was in Los Angeles recording her upcoming new album, was to make this a collaborative effort. In the end, she enlisted Lucius, Montaigne, Emily King, and The Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman to help bring it to fruition.
These collaborators, in some ways, provide the most important part of Georgas’ project: a thread that ties her thesis of influential women together. “I thought, why don’t I get all these female artists who I now work with and love, and have come across my path, and pay respect to those people,” she says. “So I wanted to do a bit of the past and present, like my path from the start to now. That’s why I reached out to a bunch of my friends, and they were all on-board.”
Looking ahead, Georgas is putting the final touches on her upcoming album, which she hopes to release later this year. While details are still scarce, she did reveal last year that she worked with the National’s Aaron Dessner and producer Jon Low at Dessner’s Hudson, New York, studio, in addition to work done in Los Angeles.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this new music and new chapter,” she wrote on Facebook. If her next album serves as a snapshot of who she is now, then Imprints is a vital look into the journey that led her to this point — an integral blueprint of her musical DNA.