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Hanbee Makes Music That Feels Like Daydreaming

Rolling Stone AU/NZ catches up with the Korean-Kiwi artist, set to enchant Laneway audiences with her dreamy indie pop



Korean-Kiwi artist hanbee, nominated for Best New Artist at the 2023 Panhead Rolling Stone Aotearoa Awards, is set to enchant Laneway 2024 with her dreamy indie pop songs. 

Making music that captures the highs and lows of navigating one’s twenties, hanbee promises a peaceful escape amid the festival buzz.

With echoes of Clairo or girl in red, hanbee’s music has garnered attention and streaming figures. Having supported Fazerdaze on tour, collaborated with Auckland producer Hans., and with an album in the works, hanbee is set to shine brightly in the local scene in 2024 and beyond.

Read Rolling Stone AU/NZ‘s conversation with hanbee below, as she delves into her creative process, influences, and offers a glimpse into her Laneway set.

Laneway 2024 heads to Auckland on Tuesday, February 6th. Find tickets and more information here

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: Congratulations on being selected to perform Laneway!

hanbee: Thank you so much. I’m still feeling really flattered about it. 

Who are you most looking forward to seeing on the lineup?

I was really looking forward to Raye and Suki Waterhouse, but I heard Suki won’t be playing anymore. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to Raye.

What can we expect from your set? 

Expect something a bit more chill. My music isn’t the type you can really mosh pit or anything to. I’ll also have some band members joining me.

You’ve described your music as “small music.” What do you mean by that?

Honestly, when I started, I didn’t have expectations about how well my music would do. I thought of it on a scale of being personal and intimate, like something created in a bedroom. In that sense, I thought of it as “small music.” But still, I want to make music that feels personal to listeners.

What sort of environment do you like to make music in? 

Being quite introverted, I feel most comfortable making music at home or in my bedroom. I’m really grateful for the therapeutic aspect of creating music this way. It helps me process things in my life.

What inspires your songwriting?

Usually it’s my life or the stories and people around me. I also draw inspiration from the environment and nature.

Tell us about your new song “stand by me”. 

The song started with me and my producer playing some guitar chords and a melody I was humming. I wrote it during a difficult time when I didn’t want to leave the house much. It’s about the people I love coming through for me during that period, bringing the outside world to me.

You studied violin and piano. When did you decide you really wanted to make music?

Even though I studied a lot of classical music when I was young, I always really enjoyed pop music and other kinds of music. It wasn’t until university that I seriously thought about making my own music and writing my own songs.

What were some of those early pop influences?

My dad, who owned an LP bar in Korea when he was young, put me onto a wide range of music, from classical pop hits to old Korean pop hits. 

Does being in different countries, like New Zealand and Korea, influence your songwriting?

Both New Zealand and Korea feel like home, but they’re also very different. So yeah, I think they bring out a different side of me as well and what kind of music I would want to write and create at the time. 

 You’re part of the local Korean indie collective, Always Be Grateful. How did you connect with that crew?

I got involved through Hans., who reached out to me in 2021. We started talking when I began releasing my own music. The timing worked out really well because I was returning to New Zealand anyway. 

Does Hans. still help you out with music? 

Yeah, he’s my manager now and gives me a lot of advice. We chat a lot about the ups and downs of being an artist.

I read that you’re a big fan of collecting things. What are some of your favourite things to collect? 

I love collecting fashion items, books, antiques, and little charms.

Can that inspire your music? 

Yeah. Sometimes, especially with vintage items, I come across something and think about the story behind it or its meaning.

 Do you have anything you’re working on right now, music or otherwise?

I’m working on an album, and I really hope I can release it around May or June.  I want it to show my style and the kind of artist I aspire to be.

Generally speaking, what musical direction do you want to pursue at the moment? 

I want to continue making music that feels like daydreaming or music that somehow helps people get through the day – just music that people can relate to.

Fingers crossed we hear some new tracks on the Laneway stage!

Yeah, I’m hoping to play a few unreleased tracks!