By Lexi Lane
Hannah Silver, a 17-year old from the Los Angeles area, seems like your typical high school student studying for tests and applying to college. In reality, she is a star artist in the making. Under her stage name and partial alter ego “Astrum,” Silver began uploading covers onto a music streaming app and website known as Soundcloud. Her versions later spread around the Internet after alternative artist Halsey tweeted a link to a cover Silver uploaded of her song “Colors.” The play count on the upload skyrocketed to over 20,000. Since then, several more covers, all equally brilliant, have been posted online as Astrum. Her echoey, melodic vocals paired with a faint electronic backing beat are the perfect recipe for a haunting and beautiful cover- no matter what the song or genre. It’s safe to say that Silver’s future as Astrum is written in the stars, and that it will be an amazing one at that. People that haven’t heard of her yet, soon will, so keep listening.
LL: When and what made you decide to start posting covers on Soundcloud?
Astrum: I posted my first cover in August of 2014 on Soundcloud because I had always wanted to post my songs and make music and put myself out there, but I didn’t have the following, and I didn’t even know if I was any good. I posted maybe three covers in 2014 and deleted them all and moved on, but music means so much to me, so I really couldn’t just be done with it. In January of 2015, I posted my first cover as Astrum on Soundcloud. It was ‘Hurricane’ by Halsey, and I just really liked the song and had a vision for what I wanted to make it into. I posted it for fun, and it kept going from there.
LL: How did you come up with the name Astrum?
Astrum: When I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be an actress. I was really into astrology, and my friend had an astrological baby names book at her house. I found the name Astrum, and it meant star, something I wanted to be at the time. As bad as it sounds, I convinced my whole class that Astrum was my real name, and most people believed me. As I grew up, I knew I wanted my music to be a concept. I wanted to embody a character that pulled from experience and emotion, but could also pull from other aspects and other experiences that occur in life. When I was coming up with an artist name, naturally Astrum stuck, and it’s been with me ever since.
LL: Growing up, or at the moment, who have been your top musical influences and why?
Astrum: Growing up, I listened to lots of alternative and 80’s music. I think Tears for Fears is one of my more memorable influences because I grew up with them always playing in the car and in my house. I listened to them, and I just loved how their music almost had a certain darkness. Right now there are so many artists out there that are pushing it and making some cool music. I love Lana Del Rey and Marina and the Diamonds! They are two people that really inspired me in songwriting. Halsey, Melanie Martinez, The Neighbourhood, and Ryn Weaver are also huge inspirations. There are so many cool artists adding diversity in music, and I’d want to add to that.
LL: I felt the Lana Del Rey influence at the end of your Hurricane cover, although I loved the Hotline Bling/Hello mashup you did as well. What’s your favorite cover that you’ve done so far?
Astrum: I think my favorite cover is either my “Goddess” by Banks or the “Hurricane” cover. I like the “Hotline Bling” cover as well, but it’s newer, so I’m adjusting to it. I know I should’ve said my “Colors” cover because that’s the one that blew up the most.
LL: I saw that “Colors” was at over 27,000 plays right now on Soundcloud, which is absolutely crazy. How did it feel to see that happen?
Astrum: Just the fact that Halsey even heard the “Colors” cover and liked it was crazy to me. I was so scared that she’d be offended by me changing it so much. It was blowing up on Soundcloud, and I was happy because I didn’t know that many people wanted to spend time to hear me sing. Then I found out that on YouTube and Tumblr the cover was being posted by other people. On one YouTube video alone, it has over a million views, which is really frightening but also really cool- even though they didn’t credit me. I guess things travel on the Internet fast because my cover is in places I didn’t even know it was, thanks to Halsey.
LL: That is seriously amazing. Because of that, do you believe now the internet is the best place for new artists to share their music because of it?
Astrum: I think the Internet is a place for people to share their art and be able to express themselves and their creativity. I think as new artists, people need to look into how everything works. Putting yourself out there is great, but releasing an original online without copyright claims could lead to people stealing your music and such, so artists always have to be careful. I think the Internet can be both great and not so great for that reason. For me, I’ve been able to build myself and been able to see that there are people that actually listen to me sing, and that’s crazy. Obviously I’ve seen the other side where my work goes uncredited. I guess it’s mixed, so it all depends on how you handle the Internet in relation to sharing your art.
LL: Where do you see yourself (both in general and in relation to your music) in the next few months or even a year?
Astrum: Hopefully with time, I’ll grow and expand as an artist. I’m planning on releasing original music sometime soon. I also want to expand into posting on YouTube. Hopefully things will happen, and I guess that’s what every new artist hopes for.
LL: What do you think makes an individual artist different than other artists making music?
Astrum: An individual artist is someone who freely expresses their message. I think to make yourself different, you have to channel your personal experiences and let them flow into your work. Don’t be afraid to take a song and completely change the sound- slow it down, make it dark, whatever fits your style- embody that and be yourself and that will set you apart as an artist.
LL: Have you written any original songs before?
Astrum: Yes, I was a songwriter before ever posting a cover on Soundcloud. I’ve written probably over 500 originals and have a few demos for them. It’s just a matter of getting the rights and creating the right sound for Astrum.
LL: Do you think you or most artists stay true to their individuality when it comes to music?
Astrum: I think some artists tend to stray away from individuality because of what is marketable. I think people just have to try to stay grounded and write about new experiences happening in life if they can’t.
LL: How would you describe your sound in a few words?
Astrum: Dark and eccentric.
LL: What has been the hardest part of your music process as Astrum so far and why?
Astrum: I guess the hardest part as of right now is just figuring out how to get myself out there. As someone who is just starting out on Soundcloud and isn’t signed to a major label, it’s hard to creatively do everything you want without all the resources.
LL: What would your vision be if you did have all the resources?
Astrum: My vision is to tell a story through tracks. I have a whole synopsis of the story in my head and lately I’ve been writing to accommodate that. If I had all the resources, I’d want everything to be very euphoric, and I’d want to put visuals to everything to tell the complete story.
LL: Are you planning on releasing new covers or songs anytime soon?
Astrum: I’m planning on hopefully posting an acoustic cover on Friday. I’ve been working on copyrighting some stuff so I’ll probably be releasing original songs within the next few months.
LL: Can you give any hints to what cover you’re possibly releasing on Friday?Astrum: The cover I’m releasing is probably going to be an acoustic version of “I Want to Write You a Song” from One Direction’s new album.
LL: What do you do in your free time- other than music?
Astrum: In my free time, I write and play guitar. Most of it is literally music. I’m planning on attending a music production school, and I like photography and directing as well.
LL: Have you had a tough time balancing music with school? Why or why not?
Astrum: Balancing school and music isn’t too hard for me because I made a decision to do online school my junior year, and it allowed me to work on my own and have time to pursue my passion.
LL: What do you like most about music as a whole and why?
Astrum: I like how music can remain constant. Music will never leave, and it will never disappear. Music is so diverse and has no limitations. It is something I think listeners can turn to when faced with any emotion and it’s something artists can turn to to create and express themselves that maybe they couldn’t otherwise. It’s just a very passion driven thing and there’s so much music out there, so it can appeal to everyone, and I think the diversity of it is really amazing.
LL: Who, or what emotions, do you think your music appeals most?
Astrum: I think my music personally appeals to feelings of pain, regret, sorrow, guilt, and empowerment in some aspects. I think everyone interprets music in their own way so it could have one meaning to me and a completely different to another, which is why I hope it can appeal to a wide spectrum of people. As long as it evokes some sort of emotion in others, I’ll be satisfied.
LL: If you could give a piece of advice from now to yourself a year ago, what would it be?
Astrum: If I could give myself some advice, it would just be don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, change things, and create something new.