“It allows for the human feel of playing an instrument.” – Hannah Thurlow on sound design with Seaboard

Get to know the London-based sound designer who’s become a go-to for some of fashion’s biggest names

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From Vivienne Westwood and Givenchy to Off-White™ and Nike, producer and sound designer Hannah Thurlow’s work has soundtracked cutting-edge runway shows and campaign videos from several of the world’s leading fashion houses. She has also previously found time to release music with bands and more recently by herself — she now favors a more electronic setup, with synthesizers and drum machines taking pride of place in her studio.

Despite her busy schedule, we caught up with Hannah to learn more about her work and to hear a little more about the role that our own Seaboard has played in her creative evolution so far.

Rocky beginnings

Hannah grew up in Bristol, where she started out playing guitar in bands. “I grew up listening to heavy guitars, electronic music and the local drum and bass scene,” she says of that time. “The Bristol music scene definitely had a big impact in my formative years of music making. Growing up in a musical city sparked a real love of making noise.”

"One of the first tracks I ever remember finishing was a two minute rock song,” she continues. “Big power chords, super fast drums, no bass. I now love a good bass line.”

Electronic evolution

It wasn’t long before Hannah broadened her creative horizons by adding a hardware synth and a Zoom drum machine to her setup — on which she’d spend hours programming beats. The love of tweaking patterns hasn’t left her, she explains: “I still love to spend time sampling different sounds and programming beats. Those first experiments with hardware definitely opened up a new musical path.”

Hannah first came across the Seaboard when a friend invited her over to have a go on theirs. “As soon as I saw it I was immediately hooked,” she says. She immediately picked up Seaboard RISE 25, one of her “favorite bits of hardware” and one she still owns to this day, alongside Seaboard Block and Lightpad Block.

"With the Seaboard RISE you can experiment with the subtle movements you get from playing an instrument. It allows for the human feel of playing an instrument.“

The importance of expression

How has Seaboard changed the way Hannah approaches music making? As a guitarist, it allows her to replicate some of the gestures that come naturally, like adding vibrato (or, confusingly, tremolo in guitarist-speak) to a single note by moving a finger. Something else that perhaps stems from her guitar-focused origins is a love of improvisation: “I like to improvise a lot when I play live hardware shows, and the Seaboard is great at creating unique moments. I love to have reverb or delay effects pedals on some of the Seaboard settings to create sweeping atmospheres or slow build-ups of bass.”

For sounds, aside from her arsenal of hardware synths by Elektron, Roland, and others, Hannah regularly turns to Equator2. “I use it often,” she explains. “I especially love the piano and solo strings to create atmospheres — it’s great to be able to control every aspect of the sound through Equator2.”

Quick tips

We couldn’t let Hannah go without asking her advice for budding sound designers, and she didn’t disappoint. She advocates for two things in particular: switching things up in search of inspiration – “I’m always changing the routing of my live set up and production set up — adding effects pedals and re-amping”– and always saving your work.

On the latter point, she has this to offer: “I never like to delete ideas. You never know when they will come back around. It's always interesting to hear where you’ve come from and it’s good to step away and get some perspective on a piece of music.”

Want to stay up to date with Hannah? Be sure to follow her on Instagram for updates on her work and previews of any new music — which we hear is coming very soon!

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