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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Seth Hanson: songwriter, musician, DJ

Seth Hanson '17 plays beats in the KDIC studio. Photo by John Brady.
Seth Hanson ’17 plays beats in the KDIC studio. Photo by John Brady.

“I started playing music shortly after I started listening to music,” said Seth Hanson ’17. This singer-songwriter and radio host has taken an independent direction in the development of his musical abilities.

Hanson started playing piano as a child. Since then, he has developed his skills on the trombone and guitar.

Currently, Hanson plays trombone for the Grinnell orchestra and hosts a radio show on KDIC. He also sings, plays guitar and writes his own folk music. Hanson says he enjoys playing music that reflects his personal tastes on his radio show.

“I’ve got this vinyl collection and I like to sit down and play as many records as I can. It’s nothing more than just me playing music that I like,” he said. “It’s a very broad range of music.”

Hanson lists Grinnell and the experiences he’s had here as one of the main influences on his music, citing his sociology and philosophy classes as particularly influential. The most important aspect of his musical pursuits is writing his own folk music, which he does under the name The Additional Six. Hanson sees creating music as an integral part of his personality.

“It’s just a part of me,” he said. “Writing music just comes naturally to me. I don’t know how I could take so much in and not be releasing something else.”

Hanson finds the guitar a natural instrument to write music on due to its versatility. One of his main focuses when he writes is his lyrics, which he usually crafts before his chords. He maintains that he always tries to push himself lyrically to uphold his own high standards, lyrical goals he sets for himself. His favorite lyrics are generally complex.

“I try not to write songs with singular meaning,” Hanson said. “I try to avoid that, unless it’s something I really care about. Part of why folk is appealing to me is that it allows the real focus to be on the lyrics.”

Hanson performs at Freesound events, open mics and for KDIC. In particular, he enjoys playing at open mics because of the active Grinnell audience.

“I like to catch people’s attention. Open mics are very well attended and well-respected. Here at Grinnell, people really listen. I put a lot of effort into the lyrics. I put a lot of effort into writing these things. When people listen, it’s wonderful.”

Future plans in the works for Hanson include a new album of songs written over the summer. The album focuses on positive themes such as bliss, which Hanson says is a focus of the album. One of the songs on the upcoming album, “Whispered Tale,” is among his favorite original songs. He says that the song is significant to him and holds a personal meaning. His new album goes in a new direction for him and is more thematic than his previous music. The easy nature of folk music is one of the things he enjoys most about it.

“I think it’s natural for one dude with a guitar to be playing folk music,” Hanson said. “I like the simplicity of folk music.”

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