“Jill Tracy is the swellest siren this side of the Stygian divide,
and her hypnotic allure is unmatched by mere mortals.”
SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN
“Drop dead original and dark as a drowning pool…
I sometimes wonder if Jill Tracy is actually a ghost.”
Jill Tracy will transport you into a seductive and magical realm far beyond the Everyday. The place where we wished we lived. A dark, elegant netherworld full of hidden passageways, wonder cabinets, and opium dens. Of monsters, marvels and mayhem. You know it’s not safe here; but with Jill Tracy as your guide, you’ll be in no hurry to leave.
The San Francisco-based singer/pianist/storyteller and “musical evocateur” has garnered multiple awards and a passionate following for her eerie and beautiful cinematic music, sophisticated lyrics, old-world glamour, and curious passion for strange tales.
Hailed a “femme fatale for the thinking man” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Jill Tracy was described by NPR’s All Things Considered as “utterly intriguing, transporting you into a magical world solely of her creation.”
LA Weekly has deemed her “the cult darling of the Underworld.”
She is the modern day woman of mystery.
With six albums to her credit, Jill Tracy’s music has appeared on CBS, NBC, PBS, and numerous independent and feature films. The song “Evil Night Together” has become a sultry underground anthem for neo-burlesque, gothic cabaret, and modern belly dancers all over the globe. Her acclaimed short “The Fine Art of Poisoning,” (a collaboration with Bay Area filmmaker Bill Domonkos) has won over 30 film festival awards internationally and screened at London’s famed National Gallery in 2010. Her film score for Domonkos—the stunning sci-fi suspense “NERVOUS96” is a collaboration with violinist Paul Mercer.
Since joining forces with the Atlanta-based Mercer on Halloween 2007, the two have become revered for their unique traveling show A Musical Seance, featuring astonishing channeled duets on piano and violin. Music is manifested via tales and treasured artifacts brought by the audience, their energy, and emotions.
Recently, Jill Tracy has been intrigued with what she refers to it as “spontaneous musical combustion”– immersing herself in peculiar locations laden with history and curious backstory. After in depth research, she composes music “on the spot” while within the surroundings. A beautiful and sometimes frightening study of the power of the immediate: Music lurks everywhere. Every object has a story to tell.
She has conjured music in haunted castles, decrepit gardens, abandoned asylums, and is the first musician in history to receive a grant from the famed Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, the nation’s foremost collection of medical oddities. She will spend 2013 completing a work based on the Mütter collection.
With her affinity for dark history, mystery and science tales, Jill Tracy has collaborated with famed UC Berkeley historian/author Mel Gordon (Voluptuous Panic), film noir impresario/author Eddie Muller, renowned author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), and legendary Grand Guignol theatre troupe Thrillpeddlers.
For over a decade, Jill Tracy has been “Belle of the Ball” at the wildly popular Edwardian Ball, an annual lavish costumed event in San Francisco and Los Angeles, drawing thousands of spectators worldwide in homage to artist Edward Gorey.
Jill Tracy has been the featured performer at Anne Rice’s famed New Orleans Halloween Ball and was commissioned to compose the highly anticipated Midnight Waltz for the International Ball of Vampires in Portland, OR. She has performed internationally, and shared the stage with luminaries like Nina Hagen, Lydia Lunch, Steven Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees,) Richard Strange, Skinny Puppy, Jello Biafra, Faith and the Muse, Armen Ra, and has collaborated and toured with music icon David J (Bauhaus/Love and Rockets.)
Jill Tracy and The Malcontent Orchestra’s beloved original score to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent vampire classic Nosferatu found the band touring Northern California theatres during Halloween season for five consecutive years to manic sell-out crowds. The 2002 live CD Into the Land of Phantoms contains selections from the Nosferatu score.
Jill Tracy has composed original scores and produced live events for the Film Noir Foundation, San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, The Hypnodrome Theater, Hollywood Film Noir Festival, UNO Festival (Victoria BC), the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, among others.
She has been named Best of the Bay, a two-time California Music Awards and SF Weekly Awards nominee.
As a youngster, Jill Tracy was drawn to classic suspense, film noir, and horror movie scores, which she cites today as some of her strongest influences. These passions are evident in her unusual piano performance style. Virtually self taught, her singular blend of dreamy flourishes, hypnotic grooves, and dark-alley classical conjures up chiaroscuro shades of another era, but at the same time, the sound is shockingly new. And with her trademark voice of cut-velvet smoke, she reveals a talent for making rather unsettling subjects remarkably alluring.
Early days in New York City found Jill Tracy living in a converted coffin factory– with a mattress on the floor, and an old junk baby grand– reading tarot cards, and developing her own solitary magic with words and music. It was then she began collecting stray playing cards, revealed on concrete treks through the city– her “Sidewalk Divination”– an enchantment she has honored for years. Fans from all over the world now send her their treasured found cards– a powerful intimacy with her audience she cherishes.
Making San Francisco her home in the mid-1990s, (after finding a stray Nine of Hearts outside the Victorian building where she lives to this day) Jill Tracy embraced the outliers, and underground circus community creating the live monthly series “Jill Tracy’s MYSTERIA.” Opulent stage sets hosted magicians, snake oil peddlers, contortionists, scientists, sword-swallowers and puppeteers all scored live by her dark parlour music.
Mysteria was one of the first modern variety events of its kind in the Bay Area, well ahead of any trend or scene at the time. In fact, it was difficult to get club bookers to even understand her vision. Industry executives told her she was “too unique and sophisticated” to ever have an audience. She persisted despite the naysayers.– and Mysteria captured rave reviews, packed houses, magazine covers, two California Music Award nominations, and an ardent following for the music of Jill Tracy.
“I knew I couldn’t go in the front door, not even the back door–so I built TRAP doors,” she muses. “YOU must create your world, not the other way around.”
While record label executives told Jill Tracy that she could never find a market unless she conformed into one established “genre,” Jill Tracy was busy releasing her own CDs, charting on CD Baby’s top-selling/editor’s pick in Modern Rock, Piano Pop, Classical, Orchestral, Gothic, and Film Score categories simultaneously. The spell was cast.
Shunning the industry’s cookie-cutter mentality, Jill Tracy built her own little kingdom from that point on, completely independent, honoring her vision, her beliefs, and her audience. She is a testament to pursuing your passions at all costs, honoring your gut feeling, living life authentically, with meaning, and without compromise.
She has been called a “modern day icon” by the Los Angeles Times. YouTube reviewer states “In an era of empty stars, Jill Tracy is a much-needed, captivating escape from the perceived ‘norm‘.” SFist proclaims “Equal parts performance artist, filmmaker, musician, and bad-ass icon…Fear not, Jill Tracy is here to deliver us.”
“I feel that I need to be a beacon for people, and allow them into the swampy place in their souls where the sinister and sensual meet,” Jill Tracy explains in an interview in TOR.
“It’s my purpose to perpetuate the long-lost magic, allow people to slip into the cracks, to pry up the floorboards and search deeply. Believe. Imagine. It’s so important to hold on to that childlike sense of marvel.”