Mercury Prize nominee Hannah Peel has said the time has come to “rewrite history” for Northern Ireland’s female musicians and composers, who might have felt overshadowed in the past.
The Craigavon-born artist said she was delighted to see more women at the forefront of the local music scene, which she described as having “so much power and passion”.
And she said that being shortlisted for the prestigious award for her album Fir Wave was “a dream come true”, particularly as the original offering had been written a few years ago as a library recording and not intended for release.
Hannah, whose family relocated to South Yorkshire when she was eight-years-old but who now lives in Bangor, told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am thrilled with the nomination, absolutely blown away.
“I’ve been releasing records for 10 years and every year would think to myself ‘maybe this will be the one’ but never imagined it would be Fir Wave.
“It wasn’t written to be released but EMI Production Music were happy with it and encouraged me to release it, so lockdown gave me time to reflect, reassess and mix it again.
“To be shortlisted is a dream come true. I’m delighted to be representing the quieter, self-produced artist but also, female artists.
“When I was growing up, there was no one really for me to be inspired by. We haven’t exactly been shouting about female artists for the last 50 years. Maybe we’re seeing the impact of that now, with so many amazing females coming through.
“We need to turn the tables round and rewrite history. I think we’re starting to do that now.”
Multi-instrumentalist Hannah, whose electronic music is inspired by nature and science, wrote Fir Wave as a ‘back pocket’ project, partly based on the work of electronic pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who co-composed the Doctor Who theme. When she was encouraged to release it during lockdown, she reworked the production, introducing tracks that evoked springtime and hope.
The album is one of 12 records in the running for the Mercury Prize. Hannah is up against Wolf Alice, Celeste, Arlo Parks and Mogwai, among others, to win the award.
The shortlist was announced on Thursday in London but Hannah, who has orchestrated for Paul Weller and composed music for TV shows like Game of Thrones and The Deceived, almost missed her big moment.
“My flight from Belfast City was cancelled and I had to rush to Belfast International to get one to Luton instead,” she said. “It was a close call but I made it.
“I’m so honoured to be among some incredible artists. There are people on that list who won’t have been heard of but that’s what the Mercury Prize is about – hidden treasures and getting record sales moving.
“It’s a nice list to be part of and I’m very proud.”