For singer-songwriter Hannah Epperson, performing to an audience in person has always been a big part of her music.
“An integral part of the way that I understand and feel my way through performing music is responding to the unique dimensions of a room,” Epperson says.
“Sound is a physical thing. It moves in different spaces in different ways. It’s affected by temperature by angles of a ceiling and by these animated water sacks that humans are and that’s always been a huge part of how I understand and bring to life the music that I play.”
Unfortunately, Epperson, like so many other musicians, has found herself stuck at home, unable to hit the road and relegated to performing virtually for months because of the coronavirus — something that hasn’t been easy for her.
“I think some people adapted really well to these new online platforms,” she says. “For me, it definitely wasn’t the case. I need the energy from a real live audience so much in a room with me to feel compelled and move to play live music.”
“I basically came to a standstill creatively. It’s been really interesting to see different people respond in different ways to COVID. I think some people found it really liberating that they had all this free time and were extremely productive. I fall on the other side of that spectrum, I hardly touched any of my musical instruments. I didn’t listen to music, I consumed very little art,” she adds.
But on Saturday Sept. 18, Epperson will have the opportunity to feel the energy from a live audience once again when she takes the stage at the Victoria Event Centre. It’ll be her fifth live show since she resumed live performances following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m pretty elated to be back in a room with other people’s bodies. I am excited,” she says. “Since things have been opening up again, I have done two [shows] in New York, one in the state of Maine and one on Mayne Island, and it has been fantastic. Just indescribable ecstasy.”
Epperson, who performs with a violin and a loop pedal, has been described as a “neo-classical composer and musician, indie folk/rocker and avant-garde pop” artist, though she admits it is hard to classify her style.
“It gets more and more vague every time I have tried to elucidate exactly what it is that my music is,” she says. “I’m kind of content right now with calling it 440-hertz whale music.”
Epperson was born in Salt Lake City but grew up in Vancouver, graduating from Kitsilano Secondary School and the University of British Columbia. She also lived in New York until early last year when she moved back to Vancouver just weeks before the world shut down.
“Coming back from New York, and going immediately into lockdown was pretty difficult. I had been really excited to reconnect with the music and arts community in Vancouver, which I felt like very much a part of an earlier part of my life and career. It was pretty devastating to move back to Vancouver and immediately kind of go into quarantine without having been able to rekindle a lot of friendships.”
Although music was a part of her life growing up — she was trained classically and learned fiddle tunes by ear when she was 10 — it wasn’t something she ever considered pursuing as a career.
“I never meant to be a musician. I went to college and I was very, very into academics. I studied human geography and thought that I would be pursuing a master’s degree and maybe a Ph.D.,” she says. “That was the route I for sure thought I was on.”
But that all changed in 2013 when she met a man and ended up becoming a finalist in the Peak Performance Project, earning a handsome sum of money that allowed her to pursue a career in music.
“I started dating a musician and I thought ‘hey, I can keep up with this, I can keep up with this person,’ and, on a whim, I entered in the Peak Performance Project and was a finalist,” she says. “That was huge and it sort of shifted the kaleidoscope in such a way that made me realize that, okay, I guess maybe, being a musician is a hat I have to wear with some conviction for a while.”
“Winning money from the Peak Performance Project enabled me to throw myself into some incredible interdisciplinary art projects that didn’t have funding and that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to be a part of and I got hooked,” she adds.
Since then, Epperson has managed to carve out a career in music, having played to crowds in North America, Europe and the Middle East. She has also released a few records — Upsweep in 2016 and Slowdown in 2018 — has a new single due out soon and is pleased with how things have turned out.
“If I had a meeting with a financial advisor they might say otherwise, but it has been an extraordinary trajectory and I wouldn’t change any of it,” she says.
Hannah Epperson performs at the Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad St., on Sept. 18. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $126 and can be purchased by clicking here. Attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination at the door in order to enter the venue. For more information on Epperson, click here.