Artist Jessica Hanson takes her influences from Kishi Bashi and Andrew Bird to create space in the music spectrum as a violinist songwriter. Her classical background has brought many cinematic ideas into the mix and her improvisation skills have helped her move towards a more experimental realm of music becoming an evangelist for the violin in an age of modernity.
Starting violin at the age of 5, and piano at the age of 7, Jessica went on to earn her violin performance degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After college she began exploring other genres such as bluegrass, gypsy jazz, blues, country, and soon after she entered the folk scene. Since then, Jessica dove into electronic violin, world music, and composition.
Currently collaborating with folk artist Andrea von Kampen, she has opened for bands such as Avi Kaplan, The Wood Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, Watchhouse, and Ira Wolf. She has also played with artists including Danny Elfman, Michael Bublé, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Philip Daniel, Ben Folds, Hannah Houston, Joshua Bell, Mannheim Steamroller, Chiara String Quartet, Mark O’Connor, and many others.
Jessica’s current releases have been based off of ideas from live streaming events where improvised songs come together in front of an audience using a loop pedal. After the stream, the new ideas are brought into the studio and a final version of the song is created using material from the stream and new ideas from the studio. This brings the audience into her process of songwriting and explores the realm of creativity through a live model.
With a degree in Music as well as Anthropology, the ethnomusicologist inside of her has opened up her music into the world music spectrum. Her latest obsession pertains to learning the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle over the past 3 years (tuned completely differently than a violin and with 9 strings). The Hardanger fiddle can be heard on some of her recordings and more to come in the future as she continues to explore new types of music and other instruments.
[Jessica’s] entry for this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest, “Shadow Man,” speaks to a debated local issue: the downtown branch of Omaha Public Library.
Hanson recently released a Christmas inspired EP called ‘Noel Noctis‘ which includes non-traditional renditions of holiday classics like “O Come, O Come Immanuel”, “What Child Is This”, and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”
Hi Jessica, thanks for joining us today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?
It’s taken some time to get to where I am, mostly because I didn’t understand where I wanted to go in the first place (laughing)…