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Get to Know: Tanukichan

A woman in white, loose-fitting clothing crouches in an empty space with blue coloring all around her.
Brendan Nakahara

Radio Milwaukee’s stations introduce you to new artists every day. This is your chance to learn a little more about them beyond what you hear on our playlists. Consider it a meet-and-greet, CliffsNotes and elevator pitch all rolled into one.

It’s fitting that Oakland artist Hannah van Loon named her musical project after a magical shapeshifter from Japanese myths and legends. Similar to that mischievous spirit, Tanukichan has the ability to shapeshift her sound from guitar-heavy pop to shoegaze and rock territory.

Tanukichan’s 2018 debut full-length Sundays, which was co-written and produced by Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi, effortlessly showcased the allure of pairing electric guitar with van Loon’s beautiful voice. For the just-released GIZMO, the pair teamed up again, building on their sonic foundation and releasing the album to Chaz Bear’s label, Company Records.

One of the singles van Loon released ahead of the LP’s official release date was “Thin Air” featuring Tacoma-based indie rock band Enumclaw. The track is full of enveloping, fuzzy guitar, and Van Loon’s chill vocals layered just-so with Enumclaw’s Aramis Johnson, singing about bitter and wistful memories of a dissolved relationship.

We recently caught up with van Loon to get her thoughts about the collab, her favorite gateway “dad rock band” and what a “Tanukichan” is exactly.

What was on the home turntable or radio when you were growing up?

Artie Shaw, Beethoven.

Describe your sound in three words.

Heavy, trancey, melodic

Your bio mentions that you ditched your classically trained musical experiences when you found "dad rock." What was your gateway dad-rock band?

It might be cliche, but The Beatles. They changed my life.

Explain the concept of a "Tanukichan" in your own words.

A tanuki is a Japanese animal that looks like a raccoon. Mythologically, it’s a trickster with huge b***s that loves to drink. I felt like the name had big masculine, dgaf energy, but "chan" is diminutive, so it balances it out and felt like what I wanted to do musically.

Where did you grow up, and where did you end up?

I grew up in San Francisco, I ended up across the bay in Oakland.

How has your home (or current) city found its way into your sound?

Nineties R&B is always on the radio here, and I feel like that influenced the direction this album took, drawing from those kinds of beats and also remembering other ’90s and 2000s music growing up.

Who is your biggest inspiration, musician or otherwise?

I don’t know … there’s lots of people, but right now, maybe me. There are things I’ve accomplished that I never thought I would be able to, and it reminds me to keep trying to do what I love.

You often work with Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi. How did you two meet?

We met through a mutual music friend Tony Ferraro (Astronauts, etc.)

On "Thin Air," Enumclaw is a featured musical guest. Why that particular song for a collaboration with Enumclaw?

That song felt a little incomplete to me, and luckily Enumclaw vibed and also wanted to work on that song. The guitar work they added really filled it out, and [Aramis Johnson’s] verses and screaming really balanced out what I had, and added a cathartic element that the song really needed.

GIZMO is out now. Where is it taking you this summer?

All over the country and Canada!

You can learn more about Tanukichan via their website, Instagram account and Bandcamp page, where you can buy GIZMO.

88Nine Music Director / On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee