You might recognize Hannah Fairlight as Veracity from the Pitch Perfect 3 band Evermoist–a scarily mean and talented girl group rounded out by Calamity (Ruby Rose), Serenity (Andy Allo), and Charity (Venzella Joy Williams). (At one point in the film, Rebel Wilson’s character, Fat Amy, deadpans, “If I joined your group I could be ‘Obesity.’”)
But offscreen, Fairlight is an accomplished musician in her own right. The Iowa-born, Nashville-based actress and singer-songwriter has a background in both classical piano and saxophone, and she’s released two albums–2015’s Bright Future and 2014’s Creatures of Habit.
Fairlight’s third album–Muscle and Skin–arrives in June. Today she premieres the lead single, “Do What You Said You Wanted To,” on American Songwriter with an accompanying video featured below.
“The song came to me very naturally and suddenly one day,” Fairlight tells American Songwriter of the track–a rollicking, delightfully melodramatic alt-rock number. “I think my growing love of doo-wop, Motown, and songs with the big Phil Spector ‘Wall of Sound’ string sections had really taken root [when I wrote this song],” Fairlight explains. “And I love Jeff Lynne / ELO, and the idea of the piano as a rockin’ percussion instrument, not just some chord-playing ballad machine. Once I got the bass riff going in my left hand, the Ronettes-style melody followed easily and the song pretty much wrote itself.”
The track is jangly and playful, driven by thumping piano and soaring strings. But it’s Fairlight’s magnetism as a performer that defines both the song and the video, directed by Grant Claire.
“I’ve worked with Grant before, so when it came time to capture something unique for this song, I knew he was my guy,” says Fairlight. “Inspired by an Aldous Harding video, we built an aesthetic around a French Maid outfit I’d recently acquired and me dancing alone, creating a seductive but somewhat desperate energy. Grant created 8 distinct looks in an empty warehouse, each with distinct lighting, use of space, and emotion. We even did two takes of me ‘singing’ the song backwards at slow speed, then playing it forward sped up, which made for an agitated almost exorcist type of feeling. Combined, the looks create a vignette-style emotionally-charged story focused completely on me–whimsical dance moves, facial expressions, sinister lighting, and all.”
Fairlight has spent the last few months dropping demos ahead of Muscle and Skin, but “Do What You Said You Wanted To” is the first official single off the album, which Fairlight recorded and produced with Austin Hoke. Mixed by fellow Nashville singer-songwriter Brett Ryan Stewart, the Muscle and Skin sees Fairlight and her band delivering 13 tracks inspired by the likes of Tori Amos, Lucinda Williams, and Patti Smith.
Muscle and Skin is out June 12.