Featured Artist of the Month
April 2023 - Cole Hansen
About Cole Hansen
We are excited to shine our light on Cole Hansen this month. My normal process for writing a Featured Artist piece is to email some questions, follow up with a live phone interview and then take the answers and comments of the musician and craft a story. Because of the great responses Cole gave to my initial set of questions, I am presenting this in a question and answer format because it really provides a sense of who Cole Hansen is.
Cole lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and number one fan, Nate Moser, who is also a musician. You can listen to Cole’s beautiful voice at her website and pretty much any of the music streaming services. Click here to go to her website: colehansenmusic.com
LA: How old were you when the music bug bit you? Do you remember a particular song, artist, or incident that set the hook?
Cole Hansen: Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Even though my parents aren’t musicians, they filled the house with music during my childhood. Sundays had gospel and hymns in our church; Saturdays, prog rock with my dad, often at classic car shows. He’s an English Ford aficionado. My mom was a daycare provider for kids of all ages, so I was always exposed to the music kids of all ages were listening to, as well as musicals on film like Mary Poppins, the Wizard of OZ, and Annie.
While I don’t remember a specific event that sparked my fire for music, my first big concert was YES with my dad. What I can tell you is that every time I saw a live performance, there was just this feeling inside me, this knowing, this gut feeling that I could, and should be up there on stage.
LA: Your musical background looks pretty cool - did you start out playing an instrument or has your voice always been your instrument?
Cole Hansen: Thanks. Yes, voice is definitely my main instrument but I played clarinet for 8 years starting in 2nd grade, and oboe for about 3 years. I did solo & ensemble competitions and was even in the marching band for a few years. Halfway through my freshman year, I changed high schools and decided to join the choir instead. I had just gotten a guitar the summer before and had a bigger desire to sing than to play in the school band at that point. I've thought about picking up clarinet again. I do love the sound of it. There's just only so much time in the day.
LA: Any idea how many other people's albums you have performed on? Does one of them stand out from the others? How so?
Cole Hansen: Definitely not enough to sound impressive. Haha. I haven’t done an exact count. I’m fairly sure that not all of the albums I’ve sung on are even still in existence but I’d have to say about a few dozen. I really enjoyed the work I did with Ed Dupas back in 2017 on his album, Tennessee Night. I sang on 3 tracks on the album. Honestly just the way things lined up for us to be able to work together on this project were serendipitous. Ed and I met one night when he was performing at One Trick Pony. He started singing “Don’t think Twice” by Bob Dylan and I decided to get up on the mic and sing harmonies with him. He loved how our voices sounded together and asked if he could contact me in the future to record some songs together if the opportunity arose. Of course, I said yes. Fast forward to Ed starting to work on this record with local engineer/producer Michael Crittendon. One night, while reviewing some tracks, Michael heard an ethereal voice (in his supposedly haunted studio) that he said reminded him of my voice. Ed took that as a sign to give me a call and get the tracks in my hands. We had a really fun time working together and developed a lasting friendship in the process.
LA: What is your favorite performance venue? Why?
Cole Hansen: Oooh. Tough question. If we’re talking about Grand Rapids venues, I’d have to say The Midtown Listening Room. If we are talking about favorite venues that exist, or where I've seen shows, Red Rocks in CO for the view, and The Ryman for the history.
LA: Do you have any particular favorite performance that you have given? Details?
Cole Hansen: It’s hard to pick but my favorite performance in my career so far has to be my “Vote for Love” album release show last November. My long-awaited first album was released in March 2020. And since I didn’t get to have a release show for my debut, I was really looking forward to putting on an amazing performance with a top notch band at a nice venue with great sound. The Midtown (formerly Listening Room) hosted my album release show. It was a ticketed event, My 15 yr old student Izubel opened for me, and I rehearsed every part of that show leading up to that night. I knew exactly where I wanted to talk in the set and for how long, I trusted the band completely even though we had only rehearsed once together after they tracked their parts for the album. I felt like I connected with my audience on a deeper, more meaningful level than I've been able to do in the past which felt really great. I felt confident and focused but still allowed myself to be vulnerable. I even sold a bunch of "Vote for Love" tees and merch after the show. I went home feeling super high, validated, and unstoppable.
LA: How did you get interested in singing with a madrigal group? NOTE: Madrigal vocal groups range from two to eight members and sing music from the Renaissance and Early Baroque periods. It is performed a cappella (no instruments).
Cole Hansen: Haha. I was already curious but to be honest, I was kind of nudged by one of my professors. The previous year, I was in the school's audition-only vocal jazz group. The head of the music department was the director of the madrigal group. I was in his ear training class as well as his vocal performance classes so he knew I had a decent ear and could sing in a variety of styles. He approached me and strongly recommended that I audition. It ended up being a really fun experience. So fun that I got him to talk me into it the next year too.
LA: Outside of music - what makes your heart go pitter pat? Favorite hobbies or activities?
Cole Hansen: Definitely travel. I haven’t done nearly as much as I would like to but I always enjoy every opportunity to see new places. I’m also a huge fan of food. I often refer to it as “my first love.” What spice does to food is magical and experiencing other cultures through their cuisine is something I feel very privileged to be able to do. I also think everybody at some point in time should experience growing their own food. My husband and I like to keep a small garden in our yard and grow fruits and vegetables. Food grown by your own hand tastes incredibly satisfying. I love being present out in nature. Big fan of hiking, especially if there is a waterfall reward at the end.
LA: What do you enjoy most about life as a musician?
Cole Hansen: Music is the window that colors my entire world. First and foremost, I get paid to do what I love. I enjoy setting my own hours. I get to meet new, interesting people and experience new places. I get to choose my collaborators. My being vulnerable helps people heal and provides a safe place for others to be their full authentic selves. Another thing I like is getting to play lots of different roles: friend, writer, secretary, boss, rockstar, performer, diva, sweetheart, teacher, and student. Lastly, life as a musician means I never get bored because there is always something to work on.
LA: What else should we know about you, Cole?
Cole Hansen: I'm a giant goofball. You can think of me like your favorite aunt who always finds a way to make you smile. I'm a private person. I thrive in small groups. I get overwhelmed in large crowds and loud environments. I have been diagnosed by ADHD, anxiety, and depression but I do my best to find healthy ways to manage myself and not let any labels define me. I waver between terrible bouts of imposter syndrome and feeling like I am right where I belong. I am getting better at asking for help but it’s still difficult. I have a really hard time being my own cheerleader so thank you so much for this opportunity.
LA: Cole, thank you very much for your detailed and delightful answers.
You can keep up with Cole Hansen and treat yourself to experiencing one of her live performances here: colehansenmusic.com/live