Sunday Composer: Zoë Keating

Try singing along to this? You can’t, no lyrics, so it’s not a singalong exactly but she’s a composer and we all need a soundtrack for the movie of our lives and I think I choose her to compose mine.

Zoë Keating is a Canadian avant celloist – she uses a laptop and her cello to create one-woman symphonies of “subterranean and rustic soundscapes” – and she launched herself on the Internet, an avenue more women musicians are resorting to because of the sexism of the music industry. Keating now sells enough to be the breadwinner for her little family, which includes a husband and a toddler. Oh, I do love a working mama success story.

Image: Keating with her cello case on her back pushing a stroller through an airport.

When I first started out doing this and I approached record labels and managers and agents they all said, ‘Well, what you do is interesting, but what’s the story? We can’t figure it out. It’s complicated. And it seems kind of niche, and it doesn’t really seem like it would go anywhere’.

I do think it’s kind of harder for women to be noticed if they’re not young and sexy and hot. And I don’t think I’m young and sexy and hot.

Hah! Not sexy and hot?

Image: Keating in a promotional image with her cello in a forest. Keating is a thin, white woman with great hair. She has bright red hair cut short around the sides and dreads piled on top. She’s also rather gorgeous.

Categories: arts & entertainment, fun & hobbies, gender & feminism, media


4 replies

  1. I like that she rejects the industry demand for Patriarchy 2.0 hotness, wondering why you’re so keen to assign it to her anyway? Clearly, she could totally be mainstream “hot” if she chose to, but she’s chosen not. Good for her, and I agree that not being mainstream “hot” doesn’t make her unsexy.
    Love her music.

  2. Oh, I’m glad you like her music, too. That hotness comment was my flippant way of saying that I find her being comfortable in her own skin and her rejection of narrow commercial beauty constructs hot.

  3. First time I heard Zoe play was in the Natoma Street warehouse for which her first album is named. I was seven or eight months pregnant and the baby loved, loved, loved the music. I lay on beanbags beside my partner and his hands were on my belly, feeling our unborn daughter dance.

    Last time I saw Zoe play, she was seven or eight months pregnant with Cellobaby. Circle of life, much?

  4. She’s great! Thanks for introducing me to her. Cello seems quite the instrument ATM.
    And I agree, she’s a kind of sexy and hot that’s not Patriarchy 2.0, but appealing to some of us anyway – and yes, self-assurance in being what one is, is a big part of that for me.

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