Five things

From Terrance Malick to North Wales: Liverpool duo King Hannah unpick five enduring influences
By Alex James Taylor | Music | 16 November 2021

Photography by Katie Silvester

When listening to Liverpool duo King Hannah, the lights seem to dim a little; such is the smoky sizzle of their sound, your surroundings can’t help but join in. Manifesting their interests and influences with aplomb, this pair – Craig Whittle and Hannah Merrick – cut-and-paste sonic collages with their singular touch; flickering between stark realism and offbeat humour, expect tales from the Wirral Peninsula set to Americana desert sprawls. Look no further than their recent single, A Well-Made Woman, which sits somewhere between Mazzy Star’s sultry folk and Tom Waits’ sparse bar room theatrics, or the duo’s Springsteen cover State Trooper, which ramps up the track’s thrilling Alan Vega influence (Bruce cited inspiration from Suicide’s Frankie Teardrop).

With their debut record, I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me, wrapped and ready (via Berlin label City Slang), we exclusively premiere the video release of their latest single, All being Fine as King Hannah guide us through five of their enduring influences; across music, art, film, literature and location.


Knock Knock, by Smog

“This album collectively blew our minds when we were heard it for the first time, and it heavily influenced the music we made in the aftermath of listening to it. Bill Callahan has such a unique ability to blend wild 90s analog sounds with the most beautiful and poetic narrative songwriting, and that’s definitely something we try to bring to our music. We love everything he’s ever done, from the crazy, lo-fi stuff in the 90s to the softer and more introspective music he makes now. Listening to him feels like being lost inside a memory.”


Territory of Light by Yūko Tsushima

“This novel is about a single mother trying to bring up her young daughter in Tokyo, and it has this beautiful, dream-like quality to it that you just can’t shake yourself from once you’ve read it. There is a particular scene that is profoundly moving in which the rooftop of the building they live in floods, and the mother and daughter spend the evening playing in the ‘rooftop sea’. What we love about Japanese literature, and this book in particular, is the minimalist approach it takes, like there is a cool, summer breeze running through it.”

Territory of Light by Yūko Tsushima


Edward Hopper

“Absolutely anything by Edward Hopper. The way he captures ordinary people, places and light moves us in the same place that music does, somewhere deep down and unknowable. It feels like his paintings are a literal window into being a human, so full of love and sadness and loneliness. We always get the impression that the people in his paintings are being crushed by the world, like it’s all too much somehow, especially in something like Morning Sun.”

Edward Hopper, ‘Morning Sun’ 1952


Badlands by Terrence Malick, 1973

Badlands is one that visually, we always come back to. American cinema in the late 60s and throughout the 70s was so good, full of such interesting and complex characters, but also visually so warm and sparse, it’s definitely something we try to take into our music. In many ways the sounds and textures that we are instinctively drawn to in music are the same as the visuals we are drawn to in film, that sort of grain and warmth, there’s a clear connection between them.”


North Wales

“I (Hannah) grew up in North Wales and Craig used to visit here every summer on holiday when he was a kid, long before we ever met, so it’s a place that is intrinsically linked to both our childhoods. We’ve found that recently North Wales has found its way into our music a lot more, which is quite often lyrically and musically related to memories and nostalgia and childhood. It’s such a breathtakingly beautiful and natural part of the world and we are both very proud to have such a strong emotional connection to it.” 

King Hannah’s debut record I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me, will be released Feb 25th 2022 via City Slang. Catch the band on tour across the UK and EU now.


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