Hannah Bethel understands that the universe is abundant and that there is a seat at the table for all of the creative people who wish to bring art into the world. There was a time when that wasn’t always so clear to the Nashville-based singer-songwriter, but life and the experiences that go along with it have a tendency to inspire growth. That growth is nowhere more discernible than on her new EP, Until the Sun Comes Back Around, which is available today.
I recently sat down with Bethel to discuss curve balls, surrendering to her emotions, and how going deep with people has impacted her songwriting.
AH: What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to release new music to the masses like your new EP, especially when it’s something that was in your control and now, you’re basically relinquishing that control?
HB: That’s a great question. A lot of emotions. We’ve been working on this record for a long time. We thought we were going to start recording early 2020, and then the universe had other plans for us. So, there have been a lot of curve balls and a lot of…just evolving with the times. And so, now here we are, finally, in 2022 getting it out. So, I’m very excited. I’m relieved. I’m grateful to just be finally sharing it and to not be thinking about it or working on it anymore because it’s been such a long process of tinkering with it. I’m like, “Let’s let this one go and let’s create some new stuff.” It’s what I like.
AH: And sometimes that tinkering can take the original magic away from something.
HB: Absolutely. And that’s the thing, you could keep tweaking things forever, but part of the magic is trusting some of those initial responses and letting them be frozen in time, and that’s what it is. And then if I were to do it again—today or tomorrow—it would be totally different. That’s part of what makes it magic.
AH: You mentioned starting the process in 2020 and then having to call an audible because of the universe having its say. Did that stop and go change your creative game plan in terms of which songs would make it on the EP?
HB: That’s a good question, too. Not too much. I think we pretty much had the pool of songs that we wanted and we had a few that we were like, “Definitely, yes.” So, I think that the songs, themselves, stayed pretty true and it worked out well because these are a collection of songs about a sad, difficult, uncomfortable time in my life. It felt good and it felt right to be in that emotion, in this time as opposed to trying to create something super chipper and lighthearted. It felt good to just surrender to that. It felt in alignment and it felt good to create it and express it through these wild times we’re living in.
AH: Do you think that surrendering to those emotions during this time will give you an interesting view when reflecting back on this collection of your music down the road?
HB: Oh, absolutely. There have been many things that have been different about this body of work and this process than things I’ve done in the past. It’s been several years since I released a full project, for starters. And this one I really felt like the people in my corner were really, really in my corner and really wanted to help honor what I wanted to bring out into the world in just a totally organic, pure way that I don’t know that I’ve really experienced. No one was interested in playing the game or was like, “Well, maybe you should do this because these guys will like it better.” It was just all about my streamlined creativity. And that was very unique, very cool. Just one thing that I love about this record and this time.
AH: What would someone learn about you in sitting down to listen to the EP front to back and how would that compare to who you are today, knowing that this EP began its journey in 2020?
HB: I would say I have changed very much in the past couple years, as all of us have. We’ve been through this collective experience. We have grown a lot. And all of us have really been forced to really see what we’re made of. Like, who are we when things are really actually tough? And when things are really actually scary, what is our composition? And so, that’s been a very humbling and empowering experience for me. And I had not really had that kind of experience prior to this. I had Lyme disease in my early 20s and almost died, so I have had some scary things, but this was a whole new level. And in the season since writing those songs, I’ve learned a lot about just really trusting myself and my instincts with people, with relationships. That girl who wrote those songs was just beginning to really trust herself. And now I’m like, “Don’t even play.”
AH: Well, let’s look beyond the girl who wrote these songs then and to the girl who first picked up the guitar. What would she think of this EP?
HB: Oh man. She would probably think that it’s pretty cool. She was a very inspired, emotional, little, free-spirited, hippie girl. All my early songs were about the moon and the stars and the trees. (Laughter) And then I moved to Nashville when I was 18 and started trying to play the publishing game and learned how to write in the Nashville style and lost some of my innate creative responses. And the last five or six years have really been turning back to that, while also carrying the skill set that I’ve learned from writing in Nashville for so long. And so, I would say that this record really honors that girl in a way that the other stuff hasn’t as much.
AH: Nashville’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I would imagine it’s super inspiring being around so many other people who do the same thing, but at the same time, kind of intimidating because you’re constantly seeing how others are progressing.
HB: I used to be more concerned with that when I was younger and when I really believed that there were only so many seats at the table and there wasn’t enough room for everyone. I was operating from a scarcity mindset. But now, not really. Now it’s exciting for me to see other people, see what they’re creating and to also just see and honor that everybody’s so unique and what everybody brings forward with their creations, no one can do it like they do. And it’s really special and really cool and I really feel that now. I definitely didn’t when I was younger, but now I’m like, “Abundant universe. There is room for everybody.” And also my worth is no longer tied up in my career success. I know my worth is innate.
AH: I read that you’ve become a certified hypnotherapist. I’m curious how that has changed your songwriting point of view in terms of how you look at the human condition?
HB: It really has changed it a lot. And part of it has been because I learned so much from the clients that I work with and I get to be in a really intimate heart space with them. And I get to do that with music too, which is cool. I just love being in that vulnerable heart space with people. But anyways, yeah, it’s helped me with what was talking about earlier, with moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset and truly seeing just the beauty in everybody’s journey and the importance of everyone’s journey and evolution. That’s been really beautiful to witness. I work with a lot of trauma—people who come from traumatic backgrounds or experiences and just watching people fight tooth and nail for their peace and for their joy is so beautiful and humbling to see. And just a reminder that we don’t always choose our experiences, but we choose what we do with them. If we’re going to let them lay us down and like, “Now this is my identity because I’ve experienced this hurt, or do I let this empower me because I’ve overcome this.” And it’s really just inspired me to continue to work through my own shit, my own baggage and just transmute it into power instead of being butthurt about it. So, it really has shaped me a lot. It’s been cool to go deep with people.
For more information on Bethel and to hear the EP, visit www.hannahbethel.com.
See our earlier chat with Hannah Bethel, here: Song Premiere and Interview: Hannah Bethel and “The House is on Fire”