The Drake Underground was shaken with the majestical tunes of cello when Zoë Keating visited Toronto on Dec. 14, 2013.
For those of you who don’t know, Keating is a Canadian cellist and composer, and a former member of the indie rock cello band Rasputina. She is based out of “The Woods” in Northern San Francisco, California.
Initially an unknown prodigy to the world, she began playing the cello at the age of eight. After high school, she attended Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she earned a degree in liberal arts.
Before the launch of her solo music career, she spent her 20’s working at a software startup while moonlighting as a cellist in rock bands.
However, during this time, she encountered some difficulties related to stage fright, which ended up paralyzing her with fear and almost rendered her unable to play the cello.
Later on she discovered the cause of her fear and decided to begin improvising with her music.
Onstage, you would never be able to tell if she made a mistake with a song, and offstage, you would be amazed to know she can create an improvised composition with no second thoughts.
“It was like perfection was the thing that was destroying me — being totally focused on making it perfect … And I found that when I would improvise, I didn’t care about the technique. I would just put my mind outside of where I was, and just be in the music,” Keating said in an interview with Martina Castro of NPR Music.
She eventually found her musical voice by morphing the classic grace of the cello with the high tech digital muse of the computer, developing her signature style of live-layered music.
With the incorporation of a foot-controlled sound pad, she is able to record sections of cello to create a multitude of euphonic layers.
In addition, she uses her cello as a guitar of sorts, elegantly strumming and tapping her bow vertically along the bridge of the strings.
It is truly an amazing experience for any music connoisseur. Her sound can be described as avant-garde and classical with a punk influence, very resemblant of her personality.
The presence of classical and punk, along with her musical genius and composure, result in musical masterpieces that are truly intricate, haunting, and compelling.
Keating has composed various independent albums, such as One Cello x16: Natoma, Optimist and Into the Trees. So far, she has individually sold over 60 thousand copies of her albums.
Her self-governing approach to the music industry has brought her a lot of public attention and press. She speaks regularly about artist empowerment.
Keating is also the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the San Francisco Artsfest Emerging Artist award in 2005, the Contemporary Classical Album award in 2011 from The 10th Annual Independent Music Awards, and the 2011 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader award.
Keating has also played with a wide range of artists, including Amanda Palmer, Tears for Fears, and Thomas Dolby. She’s collaborated with WNYC’s Radiolab as well.
In addition, she frequently lends her music to various hit television shows, dance productions. and films including Warrior (2011), The Devil’s Chair (2007), Elementary, and Breaking Bad.
SF Weekly describes her music as “[s]woon-inducing. Like taking a triple-shot of Absinthe before stepping outside of the bar just in time to see the sun exploding.”
With that, I cannot agree more, although I would further describe it as a symphonic euphoria with intense waves of rich emotion.
To find out more about Keating, and to sample some of her music, visit: http://www.zoekeating.com