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Exploring Sheffield, England with Liz Hanks

At Gesso, we know that everyone has a unique story to tell, and our creator platform provides the tools to make these stories heard. We recently spoke with Sheffield based cellist and Gesso creator Liz Hanks, who wanted to publish an audio tour to accompany her debut album, Land.

Land explores influences from minimalism, folk, Indian classical music and improvisation whilst remaining heavily rooted in her local landscape.

A small blue house in the woods surrounded by green trees. On top of this image is white text that reads Liz Hanks Land
Photo: Liz Hanks

When working on her new album and audio tour, Hanks knew she wanted to take listeners on a journey through Sheffield. "All the pieces on my album were inspired by specific places in my local area," she shared. "The city is built in valleys and on hills, so despite it being urban the lie of the land is still clearly visible. I wanted to imagine what the valleys were like before the houses and roads were built."

With her musical narratives painting vivid images of the landscape, Hanks’ aim was clear - to create a sense of place that transported listeners both geographically and into the past.

Collaborating with local Sheffield writer Sally Goldsmith further enriched this, allowing Goldsmith’s words to bring a deeper understanding of the area's history and complement Hanks’ compositions. “Sally had lived in the area so already knew a lot about its history and immediately understood how to bring the project to life. We walked the route and talked about ideas and Sally came up with some beautiful words to accompany the music,” says Hanks.

Hanks, a self confessed technophobe, had initial reservations about what creating an audio tour would be like, but our creator platform made the process simple. "I've found the software very intuitive and both easy to set up and edit," she told us. "It's a fantastic tool for people wanting to make audio tours, highly recommend!"

Hanks hopes her audio tour and album will create a two-fold experience. One is to experience the actual album in a different way, letting the surroundings add another element to the musical journey.

The second is a call to enjoy urban green spaces, possibly encouraging locals to explore areas they haven't ventured into before. “One friend who has already done the tour said ‘it made her feel like a time traveler’. I guess it will be a different experience for each person and I look forward to getting more feedback. I am also an advocate of walking and enjoying urban green spaces. We all know that walking is amazing for health and well-being, and if it can encourage people to try something new then that is fantastic,” she shares.

When asked what advice she'd give to someone looking to create their own audio tour or sound walk, Hanks says, "Do it! It's been such a great experience and I am so excited to share it with everyone. There is something so wonderful about adding music or words to a place."

You can experience the full audio tour here. The album 'Land' is available to buy at Hudson Records

We're excited to see the innovative ways creators like Hanks use Gesso to share their walking tours with new audiences. Join Gesso’s creator platform and share your unique stories with listeners around the world.


About Liz Hanks: Having moved to Sheffield in the 90s, Liz soon became immersed in the local popular music scene. Long-standing cellist with Richard Hawley & Thea Gilmore, Liz has been influenced and shaped by a varied career, recording and touring with the likes of Liam Gallagher, Smokey Robinson, Self Esteem, Paul Heaton, and folk scene’s own Martin Simpson, Kate Rusby and Jon Boden. Liz is currently working on projects with sound artist, producer and beatboxer Jason Singh and touring with the sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun. She is also an established member of the Frame Ensemble, a silent film improvisation group that performs throughout the UK.

Gesso is an audio storytelling platform for creators of all backgrounds. Create an account and publish your own self-guided walking tours in any city. It’s as easy as dropping pins on a map.


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