Zoë Keating: Avant Cello
June 25, 2010 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Cellist Zoë Keating describes her music as "the fusion of information architecture and classical music," and uses a traditional French cello and a foot-controlled MacBook to create lush, multi-layered cello music. From 2002 to 2006 she was a member of Rasputina, and more recently she played with Amanda Palmer. Keating has prospered online through iTunes and her website; her new album, Into the Trees, is streaming free and can be purchased on her website, and you can watch her perform some older pieces on her Youtube channel. [Via]
posted by homunculus (22 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen her play with Rasputina a few times, and she was great! No idea how her solo stuff is, but maybe I'll have to check it out.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:36 PM on June 25, 2010

Great stuff. I discovered her work via sfsound.org radio (which is an excellent way to keep up with the latest in art music).
posted by idiopath at 11:38 PM on June 25, 2010

Fuck yeah.
posted by showmethecalvino at 11:50 PM on June 25, 2010

I highly recommend her solo stuff; I have her first album, Cello x 16, and it's a fantastically layered wonder. My copy of Into the Tree is on its way, but I haven't listened to it yet. I first found Zoe through Rasputina, too, and I've seen her play with them and with Amanda, and loved her every time. If you like the cello and don't listen to Zoe, you're doing yourself a disservice.
posted by Caduceus at 11:55 PM on June 25, 2010

RadioLab has two highly recommended shorts that feature her: playing live in 2008, and as part of a show on In C Remixed. She's amazing.
posted by not_the_water at 1:03 AM on June 26, 2010

Reminds me a lot of Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy.
posted by thecjm at 1:43 AM on June 26, 2010

She's excellent! Thank you for this. :)
posted by zarq at 3:30 AM on June 26, 2010

Kristen Miller is performing similar music, and may be worth checking out.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:36 AM on June 26, 2010

I discovered her music just yesterday, as she's apparently among the most-followed people on Twitter (how does an experimental cellist find 1.3 million followers?? That blows my mind). Very interesting music!
posted by LooseFilter at 5:53 AM on June 26, 2010

I've caught her with Rasputina and just immediately turned around and bought her CDs. Bing! No hesitation whatsoever. She's also performed with Faith and the Muse, as well as Paul Mercer, so there's that portion of the gothish circuit taken care of and points a bit as to why she has so many followers: if there's a goth equivalent of Bacon number, she's approaching zero.

By now, the list of ex-Rasputina members is getting large enough that, if they had a reunion, they'd need two buses, with one reserved for just the cellos.
posted by adipocere at 7:27 AM on June 26, 2010

This is cool, but it doesn't sound like information architecture or classical music. Am I allowed to be annoyed by that description?
posted by speicus at 7:40 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed her comparison of software design to song structure in the Wired video. It's only one way to think about it, but it's totally valid. She sounds like a musician who could get a lot out of MaxMSP/Bidule/AudioMulch, in addition to her SuperLooper/Ableton setup.
posted by hanoixan at 7:42 AM on June 26, 2010

Listening to "Escape Artist" was great and frustrating. There are a few times when she'll have a few loops set up and it'll sound rich and sort of busy in a wonderful way, and then she'll go to work on something else. I guess this is why I stopped sitting in on chamber orchestra rehearsals: I'm more interested in the final product than its construction. I can't help but imagine what kind of awesomeness she could create if she just sat down with all her snippets pre-recorded and composed with that. But I guess that's not the point, is it?

Maybe I'm not a suitable audience for this looping business.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:03 AM on June 26, 2010

Zoë Keating's also performs the theme music to Stranger Things, a very occasional science-fiction video podcast.
posted by JDHarper at 8:11 AM on June 26, 2010

Anyone who's played with Rasputina is good folks in my book.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:47 AM on June 26, 2010

Oh, yay. I've been meaning to check her music out ever since she was on some "song of the day" podcast I get. I don't know why I've never gotten into her or Rasputina, as they're right up one of my musical alleys. Thanks for posting this.
posted by immlass at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2010

If you like this, I think you'll enjoy Giovanni Sollima too!
posted by ts;dr at 11:09 AM on June 26, 2010

Zoë can be followed on Twitter - she gives good tweet...
posted by benzo8 at 1:14 PM on June 26, 2010


I caught her live at the SwitchBoard Music Festival this year and she was the highlight of the show. I've been a fan ever since I heard her music on podcasts.
posted by chairface at 6:09 PM on June 26, 2010

CAnt read very well right now but I watched the video and liked it. In for later, as they say
posted by low affect at 11:26 PM on June 26, 2010

That original RadioLab piece a few years back really pushed me to buy her album and I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Into the Trees ever since.

Also, it's not "cello-based" music, but I find Juana Molina's work with live sampling, vocals and acoustic guitar to be in a similar vein.
posted by shoepal at 3:00 AM on June 27, 2010

The new Coilhouse has pieces on Keating, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman, and a bunch of other cool stuff.
posted by homunculus at 12:22 PM on July 1, 2010

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