“One-woman avant-garde orchestra” Zoë Keating is a classically trained cellist and electronic artist born in Ontario and now based in California. Exploiting all the melodic, rhythmic and even percussive potential of the cello, the musician also integrates live samples of her own sound with a laptop and a loop station to generate the beautiful textured layers of a cello orchestra.

Originally a member of (cello) rock band Rasputina, she released her first solo EP One Cello x 16 in 2004. Like alternative performer Amanda Palmer with whom she played on her début album, Zoë Keating is an early adopter of a DIY approach to recording and distributing music independently of a record label. Ever since iTunes stores opened its doors in 2003, Zoë Keating has built a hugely successful career as an independent artist, publishing her own music and handling direct-to fan “marketing” via Twitter, her own website and her blog.

Zoë Keating - Into the trees (2010)
Zoë Keating – Into the trees (2010)

“Escape artist” comes from Zoë Keating’s third (home) recording Into the Trees (2010) which reflected at the time her move from inner city San Francisco to the wooded environment of Camp Meeker in Northern California.

Once I left my urban life in San Francisco and started making new music out here in the woods, I noticed certain themes were developing and I went with them […] There’s a big motion element in both where the music comes from and the way the music itself sounds. When I lived in San Francisco, 75 percent of the pieces I wrote came from me riding my bicycle through the city while singing to myself. Cycling itself is a repetitive motion, so the melodic segments I would improvise would also be repetitive. They would often last for my entire ride. Here in the woods, I experience something similar when walking. It’s hard for me to walk by myself and not sing at the same time, so that’s where some bits come from now.  Zoë Keating interview – Innerviews

This radical and dynamic approach to cello music sees the musician collapsing boundaries between classical music, electronica and post-rock with atmospheric and captivating compositions.