By Published: Oct. 13, 2020

Hannah Richardson in a field

While at home during the coronavirus pandemic, CU Boulder undergraduate Hannah Richardson wrote, sang, recorded and produced an album.

She didn’t have access to a recording studio so she used her closet as a makeshift studio. Amid the acoustically acceptable collection of coats and clothes emerged Maniac, an album that reflects her feelings about life during the pandemic.

“I decided to do an album because I had all this free time and there was no other place for me to put my energy,” Richardson said. “I wrote the songs and then I’d go into the closet with a microphone to layer the tracks and sing. From there I mixed it myself. I have a producer I work with in Nashville, Tennessee. Since we couldn’t meet in person, I’d send him the tracks and he’d add to the production, and send it back.”

The first-year English student and Norlin Scholar describes her music as retro-infused pop, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey. 

Maniac album cover

Maniac coming Oct. 23 | Learn More

“Different songs reflect different days during the pandemic,” she said. “Some are darker and came from a place where it felt really dreary and sad. And some are happy and optimistic. A lot of the songs have dramatic elements in them. I absolutely love incorporating orchestration into my music, like strings and a retro sound, so I felt like that title made sense.”

She was 7 when she began singing on stage. At 13 she started writing music using the computer program called Garage Band. She has since moved on to using LogicPro, a more advanced program.

Richardson used the same producer for Maniac who had helped her produce her first album, Chasing Rainbows, when she was 16. 

Chasing Rainbows happened because Richardson met a songwriter when she was living in State College, Pennsylvania, and they wrote some of the songs for that album together. The songwriter also connected her with the producer and other songwriters and she got to sing and record in a studio in Nashville.

“This new album was more fun for me because I got to do it from the comfort of my bedroom,” Richardson said. “For the average person, an album doesn’t have to be synthetic or so perfect. It’s more about feeling comforted in the song itself. Doing it this way was more authentic and real.”

In 2018, Richardson was part of a team of songwriters who received an Emmy nomination for musical composition/arrangement for the short film The Tree That Visited New York City For the Holidays. It was about the tree that came from her home town to be the 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City.

Next semester Richardson wants to earn a certificate in music technology at CU Boulder’s College of Music, which will provide her with a strong background in music software, recording, postproduction techniques and film scoring.

Her dream job is to be a music supervisor, who oversees the music-related aspects of film, television, advertising and video games. To work toward such a career, Richardson has her hopes on a law degree after graduating.

“To be a music supervisor, you need to understand copyright law and you also need to be creative,” she said. “It would be the best of both worlds for me. I’d get to do something intellectual and creative.” 

In the meantime, Richardson has begun working on new songs for her next album.