'Wedding Day' for Marla Hansen 

Standard Recording Company signs friend of Sufjan Stevens

Craig’s List is an amazing thing. You can find places to live, buy and sell your personal belongings or indirectly become a member of Sufjan Stevens’ Magical Butterfly Brigade.

Just ask violist Marla Hansen, whose future as a musician took a twist when her friend, Rob Moose, answered a Craig’s List ad posted by My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden. “Rob started playing violin in her band, and then brought me in,” Hansen says. “Shara had already been playing in Sufjan’s band for a while at that point, so when he needed strings it was natural for him to ask us.”

Hansen found herself playing on Stevens’ Illinois album and soon began performing around the country with a pair of bright butterfly wings strapped to her back. It’s just one example of the many opportunities her talents have allowed her. She’s also worked with Duncan Sheik, The New Pornographers and The National. She performed on Saturday Night Live with Kanye West and at Rockefeller Center with Jay-Z. Now she’s coming to Indianapolis, thanks to a three-album deal with Standard Recording Company, which nationally re-released her debut EP, Wedding Day, on Sept. 4.

Wedding Day was recorded by friends Sam Bair and Sebastian Krueger at Headroom, a New York studio. “We’d go in after hours and on weekends and camp out,” Hansen says. “Friends would come over, and we’d record them. Sometimes I knew what I wanted them to play, but usually I just asked people to figure out what they wanted to do. Everyone who came in is an incredible musician. Shara and Sufjan contributed really great stuff. There’re also less known people like Katy Luo, who isn’t really involved in the indie-rock world, but has a doctorate in classical piano. She recorded accordion for the record about a month after she bought her first one.”

Hansen describes the album as “more fleshed out” than her live performances, which are typically performed solo or with Krueger backing her. “The arrangements on the record have a lot more going on,” she says. “I think the general mood is still similar to my live shows though. It’s pretty intimate and mellow, even with all the other instruments and voices.”

Both My Brightest Diamond and Sufjan Stevens release their albums via Asthmatic Kitty, but joining her friends on that label wasn’t in Hansen’s future. “Since I’m already linked to two of their bands, it would be kind of incestuous — or at least obvious — for me to sign with them. It’s probably better in the long term for me to branch out into a new circle of people.”

After discussing her options with Michael Kaufman, head of A&R/development at Asthmatic Kitty’s Indianapolis office, Hansen was directed to Standard Recording Company. Kaufman felt the label would be a good fit for Hansen’s music, and after meeting with the men who run it, Mark Latta and Kevin Phillips, she agreed.

“I met with Mark shortly after we started talking about the record, and I knew right away we would work well together,” Hansen says. “They have such cool bands on their label and have had good success with them, so I have a feeling we’ll be a good match. I’m really excited about it.”

WHAT: Marla Hansen, Denison Witmer
WHERE: The 1051 (behind the new Vibes Music location) at 1051 E. 54th St.
WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m., $8, all-ages

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