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The Hustle

Name: Sean Hamilton

Sean Hamilton is an artist with serious skill. He spends much of his time touring the country with his drums - performing and improvising in art museums and experimental music spaces. His integration of percussion and electronics, his long and powerful explorations into new sound worlds and his improvisatory performances have garnered high praise and invitations to perform internationally. Hamilton is continuously working to introduce his work to new audiences and sharpen his craft, while making a name for himself as an international performer.

Years in St. Pete

5 years between St. Pete and Tampa

Hustle (job)

Experimental percussionist and audio engineer

What do you do?  

I am a percussionist, composer and improviser whose interests primarily lie in contemporary classical music and improvised music. I spend as many as 120+ days a year on the road and average about 45 performances a year all over the country and abroad. Beyond that, I also work as an audio engineer, producing sound for concerts ranging from opera and jazz to rock and blues.

Why do you do it?

As an artist, I am interested in how art can foster personal, spiritual, and sociopolitical reflection and growth. I strive to create work that challenges listeners' notions of music, sound, and art in order to provide an opportunity for personal interpretation and reflection. It is my goal that my work promotes a broader appreciation and understanding for art and ultimately for life.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

I got started playing drums when I was 10. I joined the school band after joining a French and Indian War living history group in Pennsylvania who said they needed drummers and flag carriers (during that period in history, kids as young as 10 could join the war efforts as drummers, fifers, and flag carriers). After a little while playing in the school band, I realized how much I loved playing the drums and there’s been no turning back since.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

One misconception is that contemporary or experimental music is inaccessible. While it does ask you to approach music in a different manner than popular or traditional classical music, with an open mind everyone can find something in the music to enjoy.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Balancing all aspects of a freelance career. Beyond just practicing, setting up tours, performances and audio work require countless hours of logistics: laying out general schedules and travel routes, emailing with venues and clients, handling promotion, ensuring technical needs are met, and maintaining a social media presence, to name a few. Finding the balance of these can be both demanding and tricky at times.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

If you love it, it will never be just a job.

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