Hannah von der Hoff doesn’t have a plan B

The local musician is all in on her craft. “I want to take away the safety net,” she said.

Singer songwriter Hannah von der Hoff rehearses in her practice space on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, in Minneapolis.

Image by Bridget Bennett

Singer songwriter Hannah von der Hoff rehearses in her practice space on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, in Minneapolis.

by Patrick Maloney

What: Late Night feat. Hannah von der Hoff

When: 11:30 p.m., Thursday

Where: Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $5


It’s mid-morning on a weekday; Hannah von der Hoff is drinking a bloody mary at the cafe where she works in St. Anthony Main, and she’s never heard the phrase “YOLO.”

“As cliche as it is, I have one life to live,” she said. “Why am I going to choose an existence that’s anything less than unique and exciting?”

While that sentiment might feel like it could be summarized by four letters and a hashtag at the end of drunk tweet, it feels a little more genuine coming from von der Hoff.

“If I think about plan B, I’m not putting all my energy into plan A,” she said. “Plan A is the only plan.”

Plan A is music, although the medium has differed over the years, from her role in the synthy pop group Sexcat to her stripped-down solo work.

She’s focusing on the latter right now, a project based on smoky vocals and clean, reverbed guitar, a sound reminiscent of Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah.”

At its quietest, the music seems perfect for listening to alone, drinking whiskey at a sparsely populated bar somewhere where it’s still legal to smoke cigars indoors. At its loudest, the Xcel Energy Center couldn’t hold it. As of now, the project has only a single demo online, entitled “Marcela”, and a release date has not been announced.

In pursuit of her plan, von der Hoff quit her desk job and dropped out of the University of Minnesota after her first semester, even though she had an affinity for academics.

“I equated this huge amount of loans with a lack of freedom,” she said. “Why submit to a cookie-cutter existence? Got my degree, great. Got my job, great. Got my house, great … then sit in front of the TV every [expletive] night? That’s not my idea of living.”

Von der Hoff will have nothing to do with dependence. She’s kept herself decidedly single for the last five years.

These themes of independence resonate throughout von der Hoff’s music, and stand out especially against a backdrop void of drums, pianos or synth.

“I write a lot about personal growth, the process and importance of reflection and being self-aware,” she said. “Not only is it an outlet but a reminder for myself.”

The most important part of von der Hoff’s philosophy involves ridding herself of safety nets. The second? Don’t look down.

“People ask me what I’m going to do if music doesn’t work out,” she said. “I just don’t think about that.”

Von der Hoff doesn’t come out and say she’s scared, but her choice of tightrope imagery makes the whole ordeal feel a little more precarious than she lets on.

“I feel terribly free,” she said.