Indie singer-songwriter Hanuel is back with his latest single, a collaboration between himself, Indonesian singer HNATA and fellow Canadian musician Keris called “Flowers in May”. The trio came together across countries, time zones and creative energies to craft a song that captures the soft edges of summer on what Hanuel describes as the prettiest track he’s created to date. We spoke with all three collaborators about how the song unfolded and what’s coming up for each of them.
Atlas Artist Group: Let’s start with the new song- how did this track come together and how did the collaboration come about? What was the process like with mingling your creative styles to craft this song?
Keris: Sam reached out to me because he wanted strings and a female vocal on this track. I happen to play violin so I started to layer a bunch of different melodies and harmonies to create an “orchestra” like effect. Personally, it was a really fun project to do because I don’t play violin on artists’ tracks that often. I want to do it more often now!
HNATA: I was writing the song with Sam (Hanuel) on Discord purely as a lyricist and helping him with toplines, then I’m pretty sure his manager tossed in the idea of me hopping on the song as a feature, to which I eventually said yes. I think I brought in a bit more “bounce” on the second verse to give the song a bit more variety. But I gotta say, this song is probably the prettiest song I’ve ever been a part of.
Hanuel: I usually start writing my songs with just guitar so like every other song I started playing around on my guitar and somehow ended up on this chord progression. I wrote my verse and pre hook and then sent it off to my producer. After that I kept the song for about a year and was having a hard time writing a hook, but I got on a call with HNATA and I was able to come up with a topline that fit the song. During the call my manager suggested for HNATA to feature on the song and the verse he sent back fit perfectly. Keris was on my mind from the moment I got the demo back and so I asked her to add some background vocals and add some strings. Like HNATA said, it is probably the prettiest song I’ve ever made.
Atlas: How do each of you approach the creative process- from writing lyrics to the instrumentals, how do each of you look at making music? Do you start with lyrics and build a story or do you start with melodies and go from there?
Keris: I don’t really have a set order of how I approach my creative process; it’s always different every time. But these days, I like to think of a concept first. You know the saying where people say “this is your (blank) era”. So I think about my life right now and what “era” I’m in. For me, this usually comes from a keyword, or a specific experience that impacted me. I then have a clearer vision of what I want the track to look like in terms of the tempo, genre, key and everything else.
HNATA: Pretty sure most of us as musicians have different approaches in writing and producing, some days I could come up with a theme first and write it down in lyrical form and some other days I could work on an instrumental on the DAW and then just build it up from there. But to sum it all up, for me, melody will always be king. It will always be the guiding key to building up a song or even tearing it down to its simplicity. It’s the red line for everything to me!
Hanuel: I think for me I try to find a sound that captures a certain emotion. I never have a theme or something I want to write about until I find the proper chords/melody. The feeling that a certain sound gives off is where I decide on what I want to write about. I start with guitar, then toplining and once I have a melody that I like, I start writing.
Atlas: The song is absolutely stunning- I love the beat and the laid back vibe it has. What do you hope listeners will take away from this single?
Keris: For me, this song is all about the nice summer vibes it gives. I just hope that this song is comfortable to the listeners’ ears, so that they can lay back when listening to it.
HNATA: I’m with Keris, word by word! I hope people can appreciate the hard work we put out and just enjoy it like how we made it!
Hanuel: Personally, I really wish listeners will experience a feeling that can apply to each individual situation. Whether it’s present, past, or even something in the future. Just the feeling of butterflies in their stomach.
Atlas: Who or what do you count among your biggest musical inspirations?
Keris: I’d say classical music is a big musical inspiration for me. I studied classical violin for my undergrad, so it definitely shaped me as an artist. As you can see on “Flowers in May” the layered strings part is all technique that I learned from undergrad. There’s just something about classical compositions that you cannot explain. It’s music without words, so it hits differently to the soul unlike popular music. I try to incorporate those emotions as close as possible in my music.
HNATA: I’m a big fan of DPR Live and I think his passion to keep his head down and work hard has rubbed off on me, he said something about flexing on your “legacy” is more important than materialistic things in an interview once and when this is all said and done, I hope I could say the same.
Hanuel: For me, someone I look up to is keshi. Just the way he captures the emotion into a song was and is still so fascinating. I’m usually really picky with what I listen to but I tend to learn a lot about song writing through analyzing his songs.
Atlas: Outside of music, what do you do in your lives to spark joy or to jumpstart your creative energy when you might need that jolt of inspiration?
Keris: I like to hangout with my friends as much as possible. Meeting people is the best way to get life experience, and those experiences become stories to use as inspiration for my music. It’s very hard to write about something that I haven’t experienced. So I’m very intentional with the relationships that I have.
HNATA: I work out a lot these days, especially since I got back from Korea a couple of weeks ago. I think it’s a good way to spend free time and get my mind right.
Hanuel: I tend to go to the beach a lot. It helps me clear my mind and sometimes it helps me find new inspirations/ideas to write about. I don’t really like going out so this is one of the few things that help me get back on track.
Atlas: Do you have any plans to perform this live all together? Any other live show plans in the works?
Keris: That’d be amazing! Realistically, it would be hard because we all live in different parts of the world. But I’m sure that one day it will happen!
HNATA: I hope so! I’m saving up every penny to fly to the US and Canada next year to meet with everyone.
Hanuel: That is definitely something on my mind, just gotta wait for the right timing.
Atlas: Individually, what’s coming up for all of you? Any spoilers you can share?
Keris: I am going to Berklee for my Masters this coming fall! During this time, I’ll be locked in and making music to prepare for future EP/LP releases!
HNATA: I’ve already teased a couple of releases for the next few months. I could tell you Hanuel is involved in the next single I’m putting out but in a very different way.
Hanuel: I will be dropping an EP in June and also an EP in the fall. In between I will be dropping singles but main focus will be the EP’s.
Atlas: Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your music or is there anything you wish you could talk about more that you may not get asked?
Keris: I always say this but, this is just the start for me! Please look forward to my future projects and follow me on my journey.
HNATA: I hope you all enjoy “Flowers In May” and please check out all of our music if you ever have the time! It’ll be worth it.
Hanuel: I tend to rush things a lot, but I’m starting to learn to slow down so hopefully that will show off through my music and the production side of things. Hope you guys enjoy “Flowers in May” and I’ll see you guys very soon.
Stream “Flowers in May”, out now!
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo courtesy of Hanuel