Farrah Hanna, singer-songwriter and Class of 2023 alumna, calls herself “the luckiest girl in the world.” A year ago, she was gearing up to release two new singles and head to New York City after graduation, and now, after landing placements on Spotify playlists and releasing her first EP, she’s there.
Hanna’s career was already seeing success prior to her big move to New York. She says that the most life-changing moment of her career came with the release of two singles titled “22” and “Signs,” released during her fourth year at the University in October 2022.
A few days after the release of the singles, Hanna was sitting in her major capstone class when she found out that her songs had made it onto Spotify’s “Fresh Finds” and “Fresh Finds Indie” playlist.
“Since I started recording music, [landing on a Spotify playlist] was always what I had been told is the way to break into the industry,” Hanna said.
“22” and “Signs” also got her an interview with Atlantic Records that fall, but she was told she was “too green” to sign, with label executives wanting to see her release more music prior to considering signing her. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, Hanna told them that she would have an EP out by January 2023.
This became her first EP, “Dog.” Hanna went up to New York once a week to record. Eventually, the eponymous lead single off of “Dog” landed on Spotify’s “New Music Friday” playlist.
Hanna said that it felt surreal and overwhelming to see her burgeoning career take off while simultaneously juggling her college career and attending classes like any other college student.
“It was the last day of the J-Term, January 13th, and I had to go to my class while my song was on New Music Friday with ‘Flowers’ by Miley Cyrus,” Hanna said.
She moved to New York shortly after graduation to continue to pursue her music career, and has seen her career progress quickly since then. Within ten days, her next single “TMILTM” was picked up by indie record label SunPop. She credits this immediate success to her manager Class of 2023 alumna Hannan Mumtaz, who works at the record label.
Hanna juggles recording music with her job as a waitress at a restaurant in Midtown. In the middle of one of her shifts, she said that she got a text from Mumtaz saying that she would be on a billboard a week after her single was released.
“I asked [Mumtaz] multiple times if I was understanding her correctly,” Hanna said. “It just felt like, ‘No, this was not happening.’”
The photos on the billboard, advertising her new single, were a series of photos taken of Hanna by Class of 2023 alumna Aniella Weinberg in London. When the pictures went up on the billboard, Hanna said that she gathered with her friends to view it and celebrate together in Times Square.
Hanna recalls that her pictures followed singer Cody Fry’s video on the billboard, an artist she listened to in middle school.
“That was kind of like a full circle moment where I was like, ‘I’m sharing a timeslot with Cody Fry,’” Hanna said. “If eighth grade me knew this, she would die.”
Hanna is currently working on her next EP titled “Conversations with Friends” and said that she is excited to be playing with newer, more experimental sonics. Her recently released EP “Dog” has a soft indie sound, with light guitar strums and angelic layered vocals that echo a mix of Mac DeMarco, Clairo and Faye Webster.
Her next EP will have a stronger indie punk rock influence, a change she feels is reflective of the current phase of life she is in. Hanna wants to avoid committing to a certain genre, but rather try new sounds and find her fit as an artist.
“One of the things I really admire about the artists I love is their ability to go from genre to genre seamlessly, ” Hanna said.
Hanna has always placed an emphasis on vulnerability and authenticity in her music. For her latest EP, Hanna said that she and producer Ben Coleman scrapped two songs that felt fabricated, rather keeping the ones that felt more natural, as if they were stumbled upon.
“Ben and I believe in this thing — this is so cheesy of us — when you’re making music, you’re not so much creating it as you are discovering it,” Hanna said. “It’s somewhere in the world, somewhere in the universe, somewhere beyond us.”
When asked about her future as a musician, Hanna said that she is more of a present-minded person and was not quite as certain about what her future will hold, though it is something she admits she has had to wrestle with. While acknowledging that talented artists can often struggle to make it in the music industry, she says she wants to continue to make music as much as she can, continually improving her music so that it is “better in 5 years than it was today.” In the near future, she hopes to open up for an artist she admires, and eventually go on tour herself.
While the future may be uncertain and fans hold out for a prospective tour, they can certainly anticipate new music from Hanna with her new EP, “Conversations with Friends.”