A Chat With Hannah von der Hoff


By Becca Martin

Sitting for hours on the patio at Sea Change I basked in the Minneapolis summer air and in the radiance that Hannah von der Hoff exudes.  There is so much to wonder about her and she indulged me over a cocktail and a coffee.

Questioning her about her origins and influences I learned that she was raised in the arts, her father a guitarist and grandparents who owned a theatre.  An upbringing that included being taken to the Times to hear jazz and R&B.  This exposure helped to inform her musical influences: Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill. “Girl “ bands like Destiny’s Child, and En Vogue may have helped shape her former venture “Sexcat”.   I had been curious about how she can transform the mood of the room with a look, or a gesture, how she seems to own the stage.  Maybe it is in her genes? With these influences, Hannah did entertain the idea of the pop star/ R&B diva route, but instead, chose the jazz rich, organic path including a stripped down, reverb heavy-hollow body guitar.

Onstage, von der Hoff seems at ease but admits to needing her own “girl time” prior to a show.  To get in the mood she likes to make the time to “put forth the best version of herself”.  For the last two Dakota shows, she has been thrilled to be styled/sponsored by the Lyn Lake boutique “Showroom”. Hannah loves to mix patterns, and for consignment will hit Buffalo Exchange.  We spoke a lot about image, and I admitted to being put off by some of the things that have been written about her physical appearance.  Clearly attractive, I feel at times it has overshadowed her talent.  Objectification is a fine line, when it takes the forefront, you can become a slave to it.  Hannah has chosen to own her image, one that celebrates the beauty of being a dynamic woman.  It is important for her to put out an authentic and genuine representation of herself. Any other choice would limit her decisions and growth.

With recent grant applications that would help her reach her goal of being a “notable guitarist”, capable of playing with the “big boys”, Hannah hopes to take her last year of journaling, and break it down to the “sticky reduction of life”.   Admittedly, her lyrics are directly informed from personal situations so you better be good to this lady.  Von der Hoff likes to be caught up, to allow herself the freedom to explore instead of being controlled by the “have tos” of life.  Being goal oriented, she holds herself accountable to the idea that “recognition of the process, inspiration, and discipline, along with structure, and practice-make perfect”.  Big picture thinking and visualization are an integral aspect.  Von der Hoff strives to take an idea and filter it down to steps and objectives that can make it a reality.  A self described “fluid” person, Hannah tries to let “life inform itself’, and does not want to be resistant to life’s unexpected outcomes.

What prompted me to approach Hannah von der Hoff was that she seemed to be bubbling over with enthusiasm about her current creative headspace.  She spoke to the idea that she would like to create a “platform for artists to connect with their audience”.  Private events that could exist without the “distraction of a moneymaking bar”. The value would be that the audience “could be totally absorbed”, in something “beautiful and positive”.  Von der Hoff relayed how she had been randomly  “window peeking” commercial/residential sites when a woman opened her door, and practically handed her the keys.  The lady had “felt like she was holding it for something special”.  Exactly what will come to pass with this concept is still being explored.  Currently working on a 4 song EP to be released soon, von der Hoff wants to show more “growl” and yearns be a legit front person.  Writing for a rhythm section, she wants to “rock the stage”. Hannah would like to work through the self-doubt in her technical skills as she is not classically trained, and the “excessive self scrutiny” that can plague an artist.  The new release will have a stripped down dynamic- “primal, raw, moody, and sexy”, but in the meantime, “come around with a one-two punch”. To von der Hoff, success would mean that she was “self-sustainable” with her craft and had earned the “respect of her peers”.

I believe that Hannah can do all these things, I just don’t know how she’ll fit it all in.  She admits to sometimes writing ideas on server paper out of necessity. Von der Hoff allows herself to dream, expressing that she would love to perform with Robert Plant, and to collaborate with Jack White. Hannah prefers the outdoors, long distance biking, and yoga for her downtime.  Dates are a rarity; she is all in with her aspirations.  Von der Hoff does have one date coming up though, a show at the Aster Café on Friday September 6th at 9 p.m.





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