Marla Hansen

Marla Hansen


Marla Hansen is a singer-songwriter with a twist: instead of the typical guitar or piano, she performs her quiet and eclectic songs with a viola. The mellow tone of the plucked viola combined with her quirky yet versatile voice creates a refreshing new sound.


Marla Hansen has spent most of her life playing other people’s music. A classically trained violist, she spent her early years doing her best to master the work of the old masters. Shortly after moving to New York City in 2003, she met Shara Worden who enlisted her to play viola in My Brightest Diamond. She soon realized what she hadn’t even thought possible: there is a place in New York City for a Rock and Roll viola player. After a short time she was playing all over town in smaller clubs with quirky locals like Clare and the Reasons, Chris Rael, and Inlets. After a slightly longer period of time she began performing with better known quirky locals like Sufjan Stevens at Symphony Space and Lincoln Center, and with Oneida at Galapagos. She even got a taste of rap stardom, performing with Kanye West on Saturday Night Live, and with Jay-Z at Radio City Music Hall and the Nokia Theater.

Though she was much happier playing all this rock, folk and rap, it was still other people’s music. She had always wanted to write her own songs, but with no real guitar or piano skills to speak of, she never got anywhere. Last year however, she had an epiphany: the viola, when turned on its side, functions as an amazing ukulele/guitar hybrid. She began writing, and has since assembled a collection of quiet, eclectic songs that can be performed just by her and her viola, or fleshed out with other instruments. She has since performed at the Sidewalk Café, at CBs 313 Gallery, and many other venues throughout the New York area. She did an opening slot for the Greek Embassy on tour, and performed at the Khyber in Philadelphia, the Evening Muse in Charlotte, N.C. among other venues. As for Marla’s sound, “The Onion” says it best:

Using a sweetly dark, creaky voice and plucked viola, Marla Hansen presents an esoteric, vintage sound that’s ultimately irresistible. Her demos for a forthcoming EP sound timeless, residing somewhere between the Harry Smith anthologies and Cat Power.

Marla is on the verge of completing her EP, guest artists include Sufjan Stevens, Shara Worden, Rob Moose (Antony and the Johnsons,) Nate Lithgow (Rider,) Sebastian Krueger (Inlets,) and Sam Bair (Locksley.) She’ll be joining Sufjan Stevens and My Brightest Diamond for their fall US tour, playing their music, though she will undoubtedly force them to listen to her music occasionally while on the tour bus.


Currently mixing a six song EP, to ready for sale/release by September. Working Title: Wedding Day

Set List

Wedding Day
A Little Bit in Love With You
Lighten Up
A Friend Indeed
All Clear
All the Things I Never Told You


One Tree Hill U2
Sweet Child 'O' Mine Guns 'N' Roses
Let Down Radiohead

I do one set, anywhere from 30-50 minutes