Ann Arbor's globetrotting indie-folksinger Hana Malhas marks new CD with Ark show, and a farewell
So how did one turn into the other?
“I came to Ann Arbor to go to business school I graduated, didn’t know what I wanted to do yet, so I ended up joining a band I went back to grad school, then decided to launch a solo career about four years ago,” Malhas explained.
She and her band, the Overthinkers, will play at The Ark Thursday night to mark the release of her new, five-track EP. This is Malhas’ second recording—the first was “Shapeshift,” released in 2010.
Malhas —whose first name is pronounced HEN-a —sings mostly in English, and sometimes Arabic. One writer called her a “folk-rock songstress with a 10,000-watt voice.”
“I like to say it’s indie-folk-pop,” Malhas said of her music. “It straddles those two words. It’s piano and guitar-based. It tells stories. It’s very lyrically driven.”
Born and raised in Jordan, Malhas’ family still lives there. “I travel back and forth twice a year it’s kind of nice. I get to play locally and regionally there and locally and regionally here. I usually go there once in the summer and once in the winter,” she said, adding that she’ll be heading overseas shortly after the Ark gig.
The songs on the new EP were co-produced by Michelle Chamuel (Thick Glasses Music, Ella Riot/My Dear Disco, The Reverb Junkie).“I have to give credit to Michelle she co produced the record, arranged it and performs on it,” Malhas said. “She’s an amazing voice and an amazing arranger. All the harmonies (on the record) are hers. They are layered and gorgeous.”
Although she often works solo, Malhas can often be found performing—like she will at The Ark—with the Overthinkers.
““The name for the band came to me because I decided that the best band names for solo artists are the ones that describe an extension of the artist's personality,” she explained. “Even if I don't plan too far ahead most of the time, I do overthink almost all the time. The result is that I set my own, often weird, pace for things—that's how I appreciate life.”
Malhas said the Ark show will feature seven performers, depending on the song, and will include harmonies, keyboard, cello, guitar, drum and bass. “The idea is to really bring to life what’s on the record,” she said.
For those who may be worried Malhas’ business degree is going to waste, rest assured that it’s not: Malhas has made sure there’s room for both in her life.
“I wasn’t entirely certain what I was going to do with that degree, but it kind of makes sense now for me. Having your own music career is like running your own business. I’m pretty sure I like the combination of the two things together, business and music.”
In fact, Malhas has a part-time job managing budgets for a local non-profit organization. “I get to play with Excel sheets for hours a guilty pleasure,” Malhas, whose master's focus was non-profit management, added. “I know that am not interested in the corporate life that business school usually prepares you for.”
What she is interested in is learning and growing as a musician, which, unfortunately for us, means she’s decided it’s time to relocate. Malhas is moving to Atlanta this summer. “This is almost like a farewell show, although I have a home base here and I will be back for sure, but I won’t be living here,” she said.
“I want to get in touch with the music scene and see how it goes. Also, (Atlanta) doesn’t have as much winter. I think it’s time for me to be somewhere warmer.”
Check out Hena's new video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1iicLLf77k&feature=youtu.be