John J. Hannibal , aka HVNNIBVL, is a 20-year-old producer, vocalist, songwriter, and audio engineer from Buffalo, NY. His latest single, ‘On & On’ has just been released, and he is currently working with both notable and up and coming artists on a new and once again entirely self-composed EP, alongside plans to begin officially touring.
We caught up with Hannibal for a chat about his sound, his influences, and his best and worst ever gig.
Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?
I’m great. Today I’m just working on new solo music. Last week I started the production for this specific song, and today I started writing the lyrics/laying down the vocals.
To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
I would say that the sound of HVNNIBVL represents the future and the past, with a combination of elements from different cultures. Right now, my discography characterises as a mainly EDM producer and vocalist, but you can hear that I draw from a lot of different cultures, and the way I use the modern and forwarding thinking soundscapes of EDM are used in formats of more classic songwriting. Maybe I’m thinking of it from the perspective of the fact that I know what I am about to come out with, if this isn’t evident right now then it will be far more apparent in the coming months. But overall, at the moment I would say my sound definitely utilizes modern/future production elements and strives to stay in more standard/old school formats.
What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
I realize that I just listed a strange conglomeration of genres, but I think those 5 artists and albums will show you that I am influenced by many different people and genres of music, and these albums have made me realize through the course of my life thus far that music is what I need to do.
What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?
Today with all the artists that are emerging, I tend to look at artists more for what they offer in terms of their vibe, mentality, and personality, as opposed to solely the music. In terms of males aside from Skrillex and Bruno Mars, I think those like The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Frank Ocean, Ed Sheeran, and many more are great actual artists. I also really enjoy some of the newer up and coming artists like THEY., Russ, Khalid, and MAX. In terms of females, I adore Ariana Grande, Alessia Cara, Rihanna and more. A great artist that I respect heavily that isn’t that well known in the mainstream eye is Esperanza Spalding, an incredible jazz bass player, I recommend checking her out. I love artists that have incredible music and/or character, as well as potential far beyond just their music, because that is the type of artist that I want to be.
What are some of the key pieces of gear you use to write your tracks?
Everything I have done this far into my career has been self constructed. One of the things people tell me they love the most about my productions is my vocal quality, for which I rely on my Rode NTK microphone (and some special plugin arrangement/combination, but I can’t simply give away all the secrets haha). Aside from that, I have a basic M Audio Keyboard, some KRK Rocket 6’s for monitors (which I consider a staple item for any up and coming producers), some Beats Pro headphones, and an imagination.
What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?
The venue SOB’s in NYC this past March – with the duo THEY (that I actually previously mentioned.) They (no pun intended) have one of the most unique and eclectic sounds that I’ve ever heard, they have a clear vision, and they’re great guys. The audience was so hyped that they packed out the house starting with me, the opening act, and I’ve never had a better vibe or felt more respect from an audience. Was a great time.
What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?
I had a show when I was 16 at this club in my hometown; I don’t even remember the name honestly, I think it closed shortly after this story. Anyways, my voice was still changing because of my age; it wasn’t an ideal time to be singing honestly, but I had to keep pushing through that period of time. After I went on, I heard some people making fun of me and saying I should stop singing. I think that was the first time I ever felt that bad, my mom said it was the saddest she had ever seen me, lol. But, I persevered past that, and used remarks like that to make me who I am today. You always have to work, and that was just me continuing to do what I have always been doing, so though I felt bad back then, I think it ultimately helped me.
Any thoughts on some of the following genres?
Not my first choice, but if it’s on I will listen; it makes you think.
Incredible passion involved in Blues music, you feel what the vocalist and the band have to say in the music.
I wish Soul was still as popular as it once was. Similarly to Blues, it is about the passion that speaks through the music, but specifically the vocalist and the lyrics. I would love to take initiative one day soon and revamp Soul into something modern.
I think that Hip Hop as it is made today is a different genre that what I consider Hip Hop to be, except for a few specific individuals (*cough, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar). Though I am a millennial, I am not enough of a millennial to know that the 90’s and early 2000’s were where real Hip Hop still was.
I can’t form an opinion on Folk because I don’t know that I’ve ever listened to anything truly Folk enough to form an opinion, and I like to make informed opinions.
There is EDM Trap and Hip Hop Trap (which is most similar to what the majority of “Hip Hop” now is). I like both, mostly for the percussion elements involved in both types. Drums are key.
Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
I don’t have many official release dates, and don’t want to misinform on any information. All I can say is that I think that a lot more people will know HVNNIBVL and understand what the brand is about by the end of this year. I was fortunate enough to intern with my friends at The EDM Network at the end of 2016, and I realized from that point on that I would always need to work harder to get where I wanted to get. 2017 has been a long road in its first half, and I’m ready to show what hard work will get you.
Follow HVNNIBVL and buy “On & On here: