Hannah Rose Platt | MA Songwriting Final Project

Alumna Hannah Rose Platt tells us how she worked with producer Ed Harcourt on her final MA project and new Xtra Mile LP…


"I have a couple of stuffed rooks in my studio," laughs producer Ed Harcourt on the curiousities he surrounds himself with when making music.

"And I had a friend who is a carpenter build me this amazing kind of throne for it."

"Ed’s studio is definitely like a museum of weird and wonderful things," agrees Hannah Rose Platt, ICMP Songwriting Tutor and Masters in Songwriting alumna. 

The pair are on a Zoom call discussing the creation of Hannah’s new record - 'Deathbed Confessions' - for Xtra Mile Records, an album that started life as her final project for her Masters while at ICMP. 

Subsequently made in Ed’s studio, the forthcoming record will be Hannah’s third, following her critically acclaimed debut album 'Portraits' and follow up, 'Letters Under Floorboards'.

Alongside releasing his own albums, Ed has worked with an array of bands and artists including James Bay and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. 

In our new interview with Hannah, Ed and Sophie Daniels, ICMP’s Head of Songwriting, we find out how the pair met and the album was created…

How did you initially start working together? 

Hannah: Ed’s 'From Every Sphere' came into my life through Freddie Draper at ICMP.

Every February, Freddie does this record exchange where you pick a person and share an album with them over every day of the month. I was part of this and when I heard Ed’s record, I just became completely obsessed. Certain records have a massive impact at certain times of your life and this was one of them. 

At the time, I was studying the MA and Sophie asked me who I wanted to be my supervisor. I wasn’t sure but had strong ideas about the music as I wanted to write this kind of horror story anthology kind of album where you get different stories with different characters in each song. Ed came into mind as a mentor, she said leave it with me and somehow it was sorted. 

Sophie Daniels: Every year we have exciting, innovative and outstanding Masters Songwriting final projects that push the boundary of creative work on our programme. Often our students are already successfully engaged in songwriting as artists, tutors, leaders and innovators and we have to go out and cherry pick the best supervisors for their creative projects.

Students come onto the Masters Programme with Research Repertoire Project as their destination. They always want to do something that pushes the boundaries of their creativity and we often have to go above and beyond to look for supervisors, which we are happy to do." 

On this occasion, I knew that Hannah would need someone amazing to support her writing her third album. Given she has already released two albums and had critical acclaim from the music press, I knew it was a tall order to find her a supervisor! I asked Hannah to think up her ideal project supervisor and she replied immediately - 'Well, I mean, ideally, I'd like Ed Harcourt'.

Fortunately, Ed had previously played at our Songwriters' Circle event a couple of years before and I knew him a little and had his email. I decided we'd give it our best pitch. It happened that Ed had a little free time and said it would of course depend if liked the music and the artist - I put them in touch and the rest is history.

Ed: We started thinking about the record during the pandemic. Once a week we’d do an hour on Zoom and became friends. I’d never ever really mentored anyone before but. So it was new for me but really fun as it was a new challenge. 

When it came to making the record, Hannah asked me if I would be up for producing it, and I was excited to take it on. 


So you bonded over Zoom and then got into a studio together to make the record? 

E: Yes, Hannah had all these songs and came down to my studio. It was this whirlwind of madness which was really fun. Hannah was open to trying lots of experimental things, and taking the songs in weird directions. Which is easy for me to get on board with. 

It’s much harder when someone has A&R breathing down their necks. We were left to our own devices and followed our own inspiration. That’s how it should be really. It’s so much more satisfying and rewarding when there are no rules in place when you come up with a record. 

Were all the songs written ahead of time? 

H: Most of them were there. I fell into this natural rhythm of having a chat about my ideas, then went away and came up with some music, refined, then edited.

So we were prepared to a certain extent. At the same time, Ed left room for spontaneity and improvisation and we made a conscious effort to not plan too much when it came to production. 

E: The songs themselves were really interesting. So it was nice to map out the themes when you have all these weird dark ghost stories around them. There’s a lot of humour in the lyrics, and this energy that seeps through from us being exuberant in the studio. There’s a real playfulness which is great as it offsets some of the darkness. 

So it was an enjoyable process? How long did it take to make? 

E: We did five days of recording, then a few extra days of additional vocals and tweaking. I like to work quickly as in my experience, a lot of the best bits emerge when you don’t think about it too much and you move forward quickly. Sometimes when you make albums, and you do a lot of pre-production, then when you get in the studio it takes longer as you’ve thought about it too much. You’ve analysed it too much - and this will often hinder the creative process. 

I like to get to the top of the hill, then snowball my way down until we crash at the end. That’s how I make records and how I skied when I was a kid."

It’s nice to do it like this, so it can be quite rough. You look back on it and are surprised by what you created - you didn’t even know you were doing it. 

Where is the studio?

E: I live near Thame and built a studio at the bottom of my garden. 

You enter and go into this kind of different world. I’ve been making records here for almost five years and it is full of stuff, wonky compressors, space echoes, instrument wise - plenty of synths, guitars, hammond organ … the list goes on. 

How did you sign with Xtra Mile? 

H: I did a show with Xtra Mile opening for Frank Turner and basically became friends with them. I wasn’t sure it would be the right fit as they’re high energy folk and more punky but they were really interested in my music. I couldn’t believe it when they offered me a deal. They are so lovely and so hands on, I’m made up with how supportive they have been. 

Visit hannahroseplatt.com and xtramilerecordings.com for more. 'Deathbed Confessions' is out now.

Listen to 'The Mermaid & The Sailor' below: 

Write songs that last for generations

A great song can become truly timeless, remembered for generations as part of the world’s cultural legacy. Whether you want to craft a killer melody or pen poetic lyrics, our tutors will teach you everything you want to know, including all the production, performance, professional and entrepreneurial skills needed to ensure that your unique creations get the recognition they deserve. You’ll also benefit from A&R-style critique sessions, collaborative opportunities, access to fully equipped live rooms, recording studios and tech suites, and a community of inspiring contacts and friends.

To catapult your songwriting and music career to a whole new level, email our friendly Admissions Team at enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

Songwriting courses
by Jim Ottewill
June 5, 2023
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