Meet Hannah Judge of fanclubwallet, your new favorite indie-pop act
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Are you a sucker for sad indie-pop? If you can’t stop listening to Lucy Dacus reflect on relationships and love Clairo’s gentle musings, Canada’s finest, fanclubwallet, needs to make her way onto your playlist.
As fanclubwallet, named after a Dennis the Menace wallet that belonged to her father, Hannah Judge shares vulnerable musings about intense relationships and the difficulties of touring with a chronic illness. The Ottawa-based singer-songwriter dropped out of university and moved home, pivoting from making comics and band photography to creating music.
“I actually dropped out of school to pursue making comics,” Judge tells Alternative Press. Originally, she didn't intend to make music at all. Instead, Judge reveals, “I wanted to write a graphic novel and I wasn’t enjoying uni anymore, so I started making music on the side and found I actually liked it a lot more!”
It was only during the pandemic that Judge began pursuing music professionally. She started playing the guitar and ukulele, and eventually made music at home on an iPhone with GarageBand. The inception of fanclubwallet then may have been when she began using a children's keyboard to make uncomplicated tracks. And while it’s now more complex, it hasn’t lost its innocence.
The Canadian cartoonist often collaborates with friends on dreamy tunes and works closely with her grade-school-best-friend-turned-producer Michael Watson. “Songs usually start with me alone in my bedroom, and then I bring them to Michael or get input from friends,” Judge says, calling the process “pretty quick” and joking that she has "a very short attention span.”
Judge is open about making music while dealing with Crohn's disease, which she was diagnosed with at 16, the summer before 11th grade. On social media, she shares everything from what it’s like crafting songs in bed during a flare-up to the medications she takes and the reactions to them, writing in an Instagram story, “It makes recording hard sometimes because I can’t always get out of bed but luckily we’ve got long headphone cords and heating pads.”
The mellow musician has made friends with people online through their open discussion about Chron’s, calling the community “really cool” and sharing, “When I was younger I didn’t know anyone else with Crohn’s, so I feel really lucky that I can be open about it online and hopefully help some people out.”
It hasn’t stopped 23-year-old Judge, though, who released her debut album You Have Got To Be Kidding Me in May of this year. The freshman offering is chock-full of thoughtful bops — perfect for fans of quietly emotional indie-pop that makes them think. Judge cites Tegan and Sara, The Smashing Pumpkins, Teen Suicide, Sleigh Bells, and Rilo Kiley all as inspirations for the album.
One notable cover is a hot take on the Talking Heads mega-hit “This Must Be The Place,” giving frontman David Byrne a run for his money with her own version of the alt-rock anthem. Judge’s version is so inventive you might momentarily forget the song wasn’t actually written by her. She calls herself a “huge Talking Heads fan,” and wants to cover other classic songs, naming the rock band’s “Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town” and “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield as favorites.
In June, Judge wrapped up what she called her “longest tour ever” on Instagram, opening Chvrches. Judge raves the band is “so, so nice" and that "their team was lovely to work with," and says she was able to “connect with new fans” as the opening act for the Scottish alt-pop band.
Now, Judge is focused on writing more music and taking a short break from touring. Coming up, the singer says she’s “looking forward to taking things at my own pace, and hopefully experimenting with sound more.” With influences like Tegan & Sara and Jenny Lewis, fanclubwallet's sound could take her anywhere.
On the “You Have Got To Be Kidding Me” title track, Judge sings, “Can I catch a break?” but it looks like she might be on her way to a big break after all.