Originally published at Dope Magazine
BY SHWA LAYTART - JUNE 8, 2018
Interview with mmhmm, Raelyn Nelson & Hannah Fairlight
DOPE Magazine: First off, Raelyn, How’s your Grandpa? How’s your grandpa Willie Nelson?
Raelyn: He’s doing really good. Don’t believe any of those internet rumors.
DM: We haven’t heard enough, so I guess that’s why there are rumors, but that’s good to know.
Raelyn: That’s that ridiculous guy on Facebook claiming to be his son. He is not kin to us. I check my grandpa’s fan email and I’m getting lots of emails about it this week. He’s fine, he’s doing good and he’s on the road.
Immediately our conversation took off and we talked about nick-names and past lives, which brought us to Charles Bukowski and his book, Hollywood, and how harsh that industry can be. And in all her modest glory, the spectacular Hannah Fairlight, now with a role in the movie, Pitch Perfect 3, talks about her experience.
Raelyn: You’re a Hollywood movie star, what are you talking about.
Hannah: No I’m not. I’m a one-hit wonder.
Raelyn: What’s so funny is she tells everyone she has a small role. Then the movie comes out and she is all over it! And that’s a huge part of the movie. We’re like, “What is this extra role you have? You’re a fucking MOVIE STAR!”
DM: You both have a diverse musical background and don’t want to be boxed into any category. Who would you two like to tour with that might surprise people?
Hannah: I feel like there are so many. We love Jenny Lewis. We love Margo Price. We love a lot of the new, newer artist and the artists that have been around for a minute but are doing something homegrown. So I think we would fit really well with those guys, but out of the box…
Raelyn: It’s funny because we’ve played some out of the box shows and it works. A lot of the times in Chattanooga the place we go to, they have random rock bands on and we’re both shaking in our fucking chaps, like, they have these huge rocks bands on and then these two chicks in their chaps and then another huge rock band…but it works! Everyone loves it. We could probably open for anyone.
Hannah: Henry Rollins. Let’s open for Henry Rollins.
Raelyn: There you go. That’s our answer.
Hannah: I feel like when we are in Nashville we’re really part of the rock scene.
R/H: Our songs are about real people and life. We want to make happy music.
DM: Now, you both are on the board of the Tennessee Cannabis Coalition. What part do you play and how is it going there?
Raelyn: I’m on the board.
Hannah: And I’m basically her accomplice.
Raelyn: We both spread the word grassroots style, constantly.
Hannah: Basically, we’re just smoking pot everywhere is what we mean by that.
Raelyn: True… Cecily Friday is the Tennessee Cannabis Coalition Director who put on the first meeting to get people together and realistically have a conversation. It was really, really eye-opening for everyone.
H/R: Everyone who has a body has a cannabinoid system. We have something made for cannabis in our body. Even animals have the cannabinoid system. How you choose to put it into your body is up to you. There are creams now, there are edibles as we all know, you can smoke it, the oil is really, really good.
Hannah: The statistics say that there are no fatalities. There are no risks to your health associated with it. It shouldn’t be a Schedule I drug.
Raelyn: It’s a Schedule I drug like heroin and cocaine, yet the United States has a patent on it for medicinal purposes.
Hannah: But the drugs that they make are highly synthetic and they have bad effects or extreme effects on people so…
Raelyn: Here in Tennessee we have a lady running for office and her husband runs a drug testing center. So she’s completely against the legalization here because it’s money out of her pocket.
Hannah: We’re involved in a lot of rock scenes, as well as other music scenes here and we are very vocal [about cannabis]. Raising awareness.
DM: As cannabis users and mothers, how do you bring it up, or plan to bring it up with your kids?
Hannah: Raelyn has older kids and she’s a star parent and teacher [high fives all around]. With me, I’m really at the beginning of parenting and…
Raelyn: She’s an amazing mom, too, by the way.
Hannah: I have a very overactive mind and to chill out and prioritize I’ve found cannabis has helped me a lot. And I feel really comfortable saying that now.
Raelyn: And I don’t hide it from my kids. They know what cannabis is. I don’t ever want them thinking that it’s wrong or taboo, I just want them to know it’s normal and it’s not legal and we’re working on that.
Hannah: And we both know it’s a trick. We have this [holding up a beer] and that’s legal and actually bad for the body and makes you do a lot of weird things. And that’s legal. Raelyn: I’m not doing anything that I’m ashamed of in front of my kids. I’ve smoked [cannabis] every day since I was 18 and I got straight As in college… pay my bills on time… you know.
DM: Do you have a favorite method of consumption?
Hannah: Raelyn does one-hitters and I do joints.
DM: Have you had a smoke sesh with Grandpa Willie?
R/H: Yeah. Oh Yeah. [Before a show in Chattanooga] we walked on his bus…
Hannah: Raelyn has always been there and it was my first time. But I always have this feeling that I’ve been there…I also had this feeling that, I’m this far from Willie Nelson… you know what I mean? We had this important question, about a producer… and [Willie Nelson] was the right guy to ask. He told us to stick to our guns. Do what you guys want to do.
Raelyn: And he was funny. He said that when a producer tells him to do something that he doesn’t want to do, he said he just listens then does what he wants, and when the producer wants to do it again, Papa Willie just does what he wants, and this happens over and over again. I’m like, “You really do this?!?” and he says stick to your guns and do what you want to do.
Hannah: We came away from that feeling like we could tell the producer what we wanted to do.
DM: Now, you make your own music videos and they are absolutely refreshing and fun. Will we be seeing more?
Hannah: We do have our official “Ah Hell” Video coming out. We’ve [also] come up with a few series, one of them is “What Chaps My Ass.” We have the mmhmm videos. We’ve also done videos with our cardboard cutouts.
DM: Ok, not Raelyn Nelson, right now, What Chaps Your Ass?
Hannah: What chaps my ass is that people don’t realize the future is now. Stop littering. Stop using nonrenewable resources. Get with the program. Climate change is real. Humanity is at risk. THE FUTURE IS NOW!
DM: Not Hannah Fairlight, What Chaps Your Ass?
Raelyn: Other than cannabis not being legal, cause that’s probably what chaps my ass, because it’s not legal and available for everyone, and those that don’t do our “What Chaps Your Ass” videos.
DM: Last question, have you two bought a new van yet?
H/R: No. That was the idea for the YouTube Videos. Seriously [that tour] she broke down like three times on the way and eight times on the way back. We’ve put a new transmission in it. And a fuel pump. And a catalytic converter. Basically made it a new van.
Hannah: Fun fact story about that. We had written a song called “Up In Smoke” which goes: [singing] On the way there the van breaks down…
Raelyn: We were just fucking around and then our van starts to break down.
Hannah: It literally happened! So let’s write some songs that manifest…
Raelyn: [singing] Gunna have a million dollars…!
Tennessee is a hemp State and CBD is legal, which is the first step. It’s a slow start, but education is key and having two creative, intelligent, loving, infectious artists and mothers helping lead the movement, a Nashville Nelson and a Midwest Hollywood star writing and playing music to make us all feel good about life is exactly what this country needs right now. Makes me want to go smoke some Willie Reserve and be grateful, or as Not Raelyn Nelson and Not Hannah Fairlight would say, “mmhmm!
mmhmm’s self-titled debut album will be out June 8th, 2018