Hannah Wants is living the good life: her new tune “Love Somebody” is out on Etiquette records, and she just spent the spring dropping it for massive festival crowds across her native U.K. and Europe. Now, she's heading out on a summer tour that finds her visiting the United States and Australia.
The 33-year-old's current state of mind is a far cry from that of the spring of 2017, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I feel a lot more confident now,” the DJ and producer born Hannah Alicia Smith says. “My Google searches for healthy shit to eat and drink is on point … Before I even arrive at a certain city, I'll be at the airport Googling the nearest organic juicer, the nearest organic salad bar or spa, if there isn't one in the hotel and I've got enough time to go. I'm just super-OCD organized. I know where I can go at what time so that I can make sure I'm getting in my health and my nutrition.”
After her diagnosis, Smith made the hard choice to forgo traditional medical treatment and follow a more natural path of holistic healing. She turned away from recommended chemotherapy treatments and toward a plant-based diet and nutritional supplements, as well as CBD and THC cannabis oils and other holistic practices. As of today, her thermogram results are normal, her blood and urine tests are benign, and her hormones, cortisol levels, kidney and liver functions, metabolism and other results are all looking good. Plus, Smith has cultivated a whole new way of looking at life.
“I feel strong,” she recently posted on Instagram. “My mindset is strong, and I’m grateful for every day I’m alive and awake on this earth. And you should be too because tomorrow is never promised. Appreciate and make the most out of today. Love your loved ones always.”
BillboardDance caught up with Smith to chat about her experiences battling cancer, the inspiration behind “Love Somebody” and her triumphant return to life on the road.
You recently posted an update about your health on Instagram. In the message, you mention your decision to heal naturally and holistically. What does that mean?
In March of 2017, about two years and three months ago now, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It came as an extreme shock to the system. I was 29 or 30 at the time, and it made me re-evaluate everything. It turned my life upside down, and looking back now, I'm grateful that it happened. It made me be a better person, a healthier person, a wiser person, a more balanced person. It made me realize that I wasn't living life right, and by that I mean my work-life balance was off.
Work was everything — too much so. The stress I put myself under because I wanted to be the best, and the pressure that I put myself under, I have no doubt [it] played a part in my illness. We all know that stress is a leading factor for chronic illness and disease, and I was just chronically stressed for years. It's just one of these things that takes something shocking sometimes to make you step back and think, “shit,” and just evaluate yourself and your life. That's exactly what I did.
About the naturally and holistically thing, I did a lot of research. The hospitals wanted me to have chemotherapy, radiotherapy. Something didn't sit right with my instinct. I remember sitting in a hospital one time watching someone get hooked up to the chemo machine, and I had the maddest feeling through my stomach. I was just like, “Wow, you know what? This isn't for me.” I just did a hell of a lot of research, did some soul-searching to think about why I thought I had cancer. I think stress was a big player in it, and I didn't want to ruin my body. I didn't feel ill. I felt well, and I didn't want to do the destructive treatment. So I decided to change my life. I did an ayurvedic detox; I go to Sri Lanka or the Maldives to do an intense detox yearly. I eat organic plant-based now. I prioritize sleep. I don't prioritize work as much as I did.
I just live much healthier now and I live much happier. I just hope the decisions I've made keep me in amazing health for the rest of my life.
That had be a difficult decision to make when you have so many people telling you what you should do.
I've spoken to enough people with cancer that have gone through similar things, where a lot of the National Health Service doctors are telling you one thing, that you need something. I just think it's important that you should listen to yourself as well. Doctors don't know your body and your life. Most the doctors and nurses do an amazing job, I don't deny that, but I just felt like they were trying to treat me by the book and as a percentage. I'm not a percentage.
People get [cancer] for different reasons. I felt like they didn't know me, and I was the best person to make my decisions. I don't regret the decisions I've made. I'm very proud of them, and as the years go by, I want to shout about it so that other people can say "Yeah, I can do that, too, and not necessarily go down the conventional route of treatment.”
Were there particular resources or communities, physical or online, that were helpful to you during that process?
The generic places that I did go and look were very negative and conventional treatment bases. I'm talking about your obvious cancer sites like the NHS website. It puts down and almost speaks badly on the more natural routes, like, "This hasn't been researched, there's no proof behind this.” The truth of the matter is there aren't a lot of research articles behind the more natural stuff because there's no money to be made from it. I believe the big pharmaceutical conspiracies with the whole cancer debate. You have to really do deep. I've gotten some of my motivation from private Facebook groups. I met up with this guy. He's passionate about cannabis oils, and I went and joined his group. You really have to search hard. I hope it changes.
People forget that if you let your health fall to the wayside or even just your sanity a little bit, that's really not helping you where you want to be any faster.
Had my shock diagnoses not happened, I'd still be running at 100. I used to do 10 dates in America on the bounce, often nights with no sleep, eating bad food because I'd be tired. I look back and I felt fine, so I just thought I was fine, but inside, on a cellular level, my body wasn't fine. if I could go back and tell myself [anything], it would be to have been much more careful and be more aware of what I was doing and putting in my body. I'm just grateful that I caught it early enough that I could have done something about it.
What have these lessons brought to your creative process? Are you looking at things a little differently?
I was a positive person anyway, but since this has happened – it's hard to explain. I do look at things differently, but I can't explain how I look at it differently. It's just a lot less stressful. If I don't have inspiration for one day, instead of trying to force it, I'll just be like, “Well, fuck it” and move on to something else that I can achieve. I have a better and more organized way of life now. Things will happen at the right time. Don't send yourself crazy. That makes you stressed, and that affect your cells. it's just about making better decisions [in general], being better organized and lettings things flow rather than forcing it.
You've since released “Love Somebody.” What's the story behind that tune?
I made that towards the back end of last year. I was listening to Inner City – “Good Love” in my car, and I couldn't get the hook out of my head. I thought it was really catchy. I really do like the track, and I just felt that vocal could sit nice on a new thing. I knew that festival season was coming, I had my tour, and I just wanted something that was going to sound sick in a club and a festival with that beautiful little catchy vocal. I've been really happy with the dance floor reaction — it's gone down really well. I didn't get to play it last October because obviously it wasn't made. I'm looking forward to coming over to the States now and testing it out.
You said in a recent interview you had like quite a few tunes in the mix. Do you have a lot coming up?
Primarily, I make music when I'm at home. I'm not one for making it whilst I'm on the road, again just for organization reasons. I like to get all the more boring admin stuff done when I'm on tour. I'm sitting on a good amount of tunes at the minute. I've recently taken on new management, and we're trying to figure out a nice strategy. I've also been working on a collab with one of my favorite producers. I can't say any more than that, but if that comes through, that's gonna be a career highlight for sure. I'm sitting on a good batch of music at the moment, and it's all going to come out in due course. It's just about doing it right.
“Love Somebody” is out now on Etiquette records. Catch Hannah dropping it and other massive grooves throughout the US now through the end of June. Tune in to her Billboard Dance Instagram takeover Saturday, June 22, by following @billboarddance.