Interview with vocal duo Hanlei who perform Live at the Deep Into Soul 5th Anniversary on Saturday March 12th at the Prince Of Wales Brixton.
Hanlei have worked as backing singers with the incredible Grace Jones for the last 7 years and have released two releases ‘Diamond’ and ‘Falling’ with Rhemi Music who host the Deep Into Soul parties.Is this your first time performing at Deep Into Soul and if not can you tell us about your previous show – highlights or any funny stories! Are you looking forward to performing there on their 5th Birthday on Saturday March 12th and what can the crowd expect from your set?
We are definitely looking forward to performing at DIS and it’s about bloody time too!(side eye!) We always have a wicked time when we party with DIS so the DIS crowd can expect the usual from us.. Big energy, big love, laughter and sexy sounds!
Is there anyone you are looking forward to catching at the Deep Into Soul 5th Anniversary and why?
The lineup is NEVER substandard so ..everyone playing tbh! For real…but our highlight will definitely be our Rhemi Music boys and performing alongside them for what has really been a home crowd for us on our journey
2015 was a good year for you and with two releases working with Rhemi Music – ‘Diamond’ and ‘Falling’ and can you tell us how you came to hook up with the Rhemi Music crew and how the songs came about?
2015 was amazing for us – ‘Diamond’ really being the vortex into that. We’d previously written a song called ‘Ain’t Got Time’ which did pretty well and that led to us hooking up a session with Rhemi Music. We wrote and recorded ‘Diamond’ in that first session and we all knew that something magic had happened, all of us doing that stupid cheesing face that you have when your circumstance satisfies your soul.
These are house music releases and do you have any other releases we can check out?
We also released ‘No Good For You’ with Dj Spen last year and so far we’ve only released within the house music genre. There is a whole other soul fusion HanLei live land! and we’re excited for what we’re gonna share with everyone soon.
I understand you come from a soul or church background and is that how you started your musical careers?
Our musical backgrounds are Aleysha: Pentecostal church and Hannah, the Church of Soul and singing was always gonna be part of our lives. But as for having a musical career, it has been very organic for us. When you are led by what you love it happens quite naturally.
A little birdie tells me that you sing with Grace Jones and how do you find her? I bet you’ve performed at some amazing shows and can you recall any that stand out and tell us why?
Amazing Grace. She really is a true artist and icon. There are of course added extras for stage, but essentially she embodies everything we see…The ‘I am powerful beyond measure and make no apologies, f**k what you feel about it, hear me roar’ bad ass black woman. YASSS Grace! Ghaaaad🙌🙌🙌
Hollywood Bowl and AfroPunk in 2015 have got to be 2 of many stand out moments with her but to be able to travel and learn from her for all these years as a real family band has been incredible.
What are you currently working on and is there a game plan on going into 2016?
In house music we have upcoming projects with a few incredible names…Yay!! Joey Negro, Sean McCabe, Kiko Navarro. And we are putting together a ‘live soul situation’ to present our soul side to the listeners.
What are your proudest moments during your career and why? Do you have a particular unforgettable musical career highlight and why is this so special?
During our careers, highlights have most definitely been travelling to places like New Zealand, Japan, and The Maldives but our most treasured highlight so far has been walking into SPW 2015 for our first time ever (long story – we’d been trying to go for NINE YEARS. Don’t even ask…🙈) and ‘Diamond’ being the FIRST song we heard playing! People singing along, flippin bootiful! A real moment to treasure.
How and when were you first infected by dance music and what was your first entree into it? What was your first break and first big record and did it set you on your path?
We love house music! It is truly soul and it has always been our music of choice when we go out! Hannah has been releasing music on and off over the years with ‘Passin Thru’ Sean McCabe Remix being the most successful release. Our debut HanLei project ‘Ain”t Got Time’ with DJ Able paved the way for us to work with producers such as DJ Spen, Sean McCabe and Neil Pierce
What is your earliest musical memory that springs to mind, and then how did you get into singing?
Neither of us can really remember a time when we didn’t sing to be honest… lol:-) but made the jump in 2007 to pursue music full time.
Who are some of the people you have enjoyed working with in the music business and why? is there one that has stood out the most or as a favourite experience?
As session singers we have worked with countless artists over the years. Our all time favourite has to be working with Miss Grace Jones who we’ve been singing with for over 7 years, and being a black female icon in the industry, who better to learn from.
What’s the driving force behind your singing career and what still drives you? And how would you describe your vocal style?
I guess our friendship is the driving force behind our collective music career. We are privileged to have a true sisterhood that we are passionate about and feel this translates into our music. We are undoubtedly soul singers but take influences from all different genres – we just love good music!!
Who is the most inspirational and influential person in your life and why?
There is no doubt that our daughters are the most inspirational and influential people in our lives.
And before you leave us, can you tell us something you think we should all be listening to before we head out the door to the Deep Into Soul 5th Anniverary party? youtube or soundcloud link would be great?
Here’re three tracks we randomly pulled from our ‘gonna party tonight’ playlist lol … Enjoy & shake two foot!
‘Ain’t Scared Of You’ Reel People vocal mix – Portia Monique
‘I Know You, I Live You- Chaka Khan
Love and Death – Ebo Taylor
And is there anything fun or wacky or that we don’t know about you?
Lol… Errrrrm…Hannah can’t click with her right hand and Aleysha can’t whistle… 😁
Hanelei perform Live at the Deep Into Soul 5th Anniversary on Saturday March 12th at The Prince of Wales Brixton. They are joined by DJs Joey Negro, Frankie Felciano, Rap Saunders, Rhemi Music’s Neil Pierce & Ziggy Funk and many more. More info www.facebook.com/DeepIntoSoul