Watching 18-year-old Carlie Hanson onstage, you wouldn’t think that this rising star has less than a year of experience under her belt. Taking over the Roseland in support of Troye Sivan’s Bloom tour, Hanson exudes confidence and energy in her performance. Though her set only clocked in at a short 20 minutes, the hype she brought to the crowd with her unique style created the perfect atmosphere for the rest of the night.
In the course of less than a year, Carlie Hanson’s life changed after a cover of Zayn's "Pillowtalk" she posted online began to gain traction. Moving from the small town of Onalaska, Wis. to a studio apartment in Los Angeles, Hanson was launched into the world of pop music. “It all just kind of happened suddenly I guess, but I always knew I was going to be in music for something,” she says. “It’s obviously a huge change, but it’s what I wanted so I’m not complaining at all.”
Only six months ago, Hanson performed her very first show in front of an LA crowd. Though her first moment on stage was nerve wracking, the experience she’s gained in the short amount of time between then and now has brought her comfort and confidence.
“I thought I was gonna fuck up and have a lot of shit go down,” she says of her first show. “But it was actually just really fun. And now I’m on tour!”
Hanson has now been on the road for the past four months. With such a meteoric rise, the reality of her life now is still sinking in. Just the other day, she said, there was a moment on stage when everything just seemed to hit her.
“Like, holy shit,” she said. “This is actually what I’m doing! It’s just crazy! There’s no way to explain it.”
Her onstage presence embodies her unique and energetic music perfectly. Dismissing genre constraints, Hanson’s sound mixes her eclectic blend of influences to create something equal parts raw and polished.
“I feel like my inspirations are what my music sounds like,” Hanson says. “I like Nirvana a lot, I like Avril Lavigne, I like Justin Bieber, One Direction. I like rap, all of the SoundCloud rappers.”
Along with these influences, Hanson says her mom influenced the more raw side of her sound with her love of hard rock, introducing her to bands like Disturbed, Lacuna Coil (who Hanson recalls as her first concert) and Five Finger Death Punch.
This mix of rock, rap and pop music that Carlie Hanson has worked hard to perfect in her short but significant time in the spotlight is obvious on her latest single, “Toxins.” Performing it onstage in front of the sold-out Roseland crowd on November 5, the raw energy of her sound was evident.
Though Hanson’s sound and persona are all her own, at only 18, she is part of a huge movement of young female artists dominating the charts in the pop industry, being referenced alongside artists such as Billie Eilish and Sigrid.
“I came in at the right time I guess. It’s fucking crazy,” she said. “It’s about time [young] women started becoming leaders. It’s just so fucking cool that there’s a movement now and that people are finally listening. And to be a part of that… I have no words.” —Brendan Swogger