FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where do you live?
San Francisco, CA. In an ornate Victorian building in one of the foggiest parts of the city.
Who is The Malcontent Orchestra– and who are Malcontents?
The Malcontent Orchestra is the term I affectionately use for my band, or backing ensemble. The line-up is wonderfully amorphous–special guests from time to time, can be large or small, acoustic, electric, eccentric. That’s the best part.
Visit the CREDITSpage to see past and present members of The Malcontent Orchestra.
“Malcontents” (in general) is the official term for my fans, followers, crew.
If you are reading this now, you are well on your way to becoming one…
Will you play in my city (Chicago, Berlin, London, Poughkeepsie, etc?)
I would adore coming to see all of you! As an independent artist, I don’t have some huge corporation setting up a world-tour for me. But this is where YOU and your grand ideas come in. Talk with promoters and venues in your area. Let’s work together and create a unique event. Cover my performance fee and travel expenses and I’m there.
Do you ever play house concerts or art salons? I’d love to sponsor an event.
Absolutely. Intimate shows where I can really connect with the audience are the best.
Where is the preferred place to purchase your CDs and downloads?
The preferred place to purchase any artist’s music these days is directly thru them. Cut out the unnecessary middleman. In my case, that’s via Bandcamp. The money goes directly to the artist, and I can offer you special goodies and rarities unavailable elsewhere. My music is certainly on i-Tunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and the like–but keep in mind they take hefty cuts and the artists don’t benefit as much.
I already purchased all your albums, but would like to further support your ongoing work. What can I do to help?
Thank you so much for your support. You are the reason I can continue to do what I do! Spreading the word is key, telling others about my work, blogging, linking to this website, posting reviews, recommending my work to music and art journalists, websites and online communities. Put the “Pied Piper theory” into effect! Join the Street Team, and help us when we come to your area. Donations are kindly excepted, as this is vital for funding the creation of new music, tours, and projects.
What is the story behind your collection of found playing cards? Why do we see them on your keyboard at shows?
I find divination in found objects. For the last twenty or so years, I’ve collected stray playing cards I find on the streets—I call it “sidewalk divination” or “stray divination.” Boxes and boxes, hundreds of them are displayed in my apartment; they’re some of my most precious belongings. Specific ones are with me at all times, just like my talismans and charms.
So always on my keyboard, stray cards are displayed. Most often, at a show you will see some recent acquisitions–or cards I feel are appropriate for that particular night. Fans from all over the world now send me cards and the shared energy is incredible. I cherish that intimacy with my fans. There is nothing more poignant and beautiful. All these tokens and treasures aligning is something quite powerful.
You have such a distinctive piano style. I read that you are virtually self-taught. Is this true?
Yes. After a stint of loathsome childhood piano lessons, I later came back to the instrument on my own terms. My music is intuited. I don’t read or write. It’s pure authentic emotion. That’s why it resonates in a visceral way with people.
Is there sheet music available for your work?
At this time, no. Since I don’t read or write sheet music, the songs were not created in this way. So, I’ve had a struggle about methodizing them to paper. Seems like the magic gets lost in a dull, academic mold. I get so many inquiries for it that as a “good business decision” I should publish song books. But alas. I’d rather musicians challenge themselves to figure out their own singular interpretations of my songs instead of a “paint by numbers” approach. Or better yet, compose their own great works!
You cite some of your biggest influences as Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Bradbury, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Can you explain how they shaped your work?
These men had a profound effect on me. I was captivated by the glorious mystery, elegance, and succinct, yet smart storytelling. Often it was what you didn’t see that really put the fear in you. Not to mention the dreamlike, sensual look to the films, dangerous romance, unsettling camera angles, surreal lighting.
As a child, I just wanted to live in those worlds. They seemed perfect to me. They still do.
I abide by that in my approach to music. It’s the breath, the spaces between the notes and the arrangements that make the work come alive. The soul lives in the silence.
You mention your love of film scores and classical, but what rock bands would say were strong influences?
Most definitely Pink Floyd. They captured that cinematic mood, that dark, mournful beautiful devastation that transported you completely.
Also The Cure, T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, Japan, David Bowie, later period Talk Talk, Mark Hollis, The Pretenders, Gang of 4, Psychedelic Furs, The Cult, The Who, early Peter Gabriel and Genesis, old Moody Blues, early Aerosmith, ahhh, so many!
What is the Musical Seance?
It’s live musical psychometry. It’s finding a true “spirit” in the music. We ask audience members to bring in a cherished heirloom, or something of special significance to them: a photo, jewelry, toy, etc. They bring it to the stage and we use that object and its story to channel the music. Violinist Paul Mercer and I refer to it as “spontaneous musical combustion.” It’s remarkably moving, captivating, as the audience completely drives the show–and we learn that every object has its own profound story.
Visit A MUSICAL SEANCE page for more info.
Can I host “A Musical Seance” in my home? I have unusual heirlooms and strange treasures and would love to have you channel music from them in my own surroundings.
Absolutely! It would be thrilling for us. Please inquire. firstname.lastname@example.org
The storytelling aspect you incorporate into your live shows is amazing. Why such a passion for dark historical and science tales?
For me, it’s all about honoring the mystery, 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. People are afraid to peel away the layers of comfort and convention that we hide behind. I find it fascinating to delve into those places and take an audience with me.
Unfortunately, these days of internet and technology have murdered “the legend.” That breaks my heart. Monsters, marvels, lore, and legend—these are the things that make us feel most alive. There is a fantastic interview I did with Jason Henninger (Tor) where I discuss this in detail. Please read it HERE.
Are you available for public speaking engagements? What about voiceovers?
Yes. I am always delighted to do them. Visit the PUBLIC SPEAKINGpage for more info.
Do you compose scores for films? I have a project that would be perfect with your music.
Yes. Tell me more. email@example.com
Is your music available for film/TV/video game placement? Do you own all the rights?
My music is wonderfully suited for film/TV placement. You’ve heard it on NBC-TV, CBS Navy NCIS, PBS, FOX, and more. And I own all the rights, so it’s one-stop approval.
Do you ever do custom pieces of music for a particular event, like a wedding or art installation?
Yes. I’ve been commisioned to do live scores, wedding songs, theatre shows, and even the famed Midnight Watlz for the International Ball of Vampires. It’s always a lovely challenge to devise the soundtrack to your dreams. Let me know what you have in mind.
Can I play your audio CD Into the Land of Phantoms (score to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent vampire classic Nosferatu) along with the movie? Will the score sync up to the visuals?
Unfortunately no. Our complete Nosferatu score performance contains several silent passages and sound effects that did not work well for an audio CD. The album was intended solely as a musical journey. So many people were requesting the music, I decided to release it as a lavish dark classical album. In the future, I plan to release a DVD of Nosferatu with our score.
Are you the Jill Tracy featured on the NBC show Scrubs?
No. I have never seen the show Scrubs, but I know there is an episode with a character named “Jill Tracy” who sings the Colin Hay song “Waiting for my Real Life to Begin.” This is NOT me, and I had nothing to do with the recording. I have seen countless articles, blogs, internet radio, etc crediting this to me and I get upset by it. Please let people know and correct any errors you may see. Not only is this completely false information, it is disrespectful to the actual actress who plays the role.
I’m a costume designer. Would you be interested in wearing some of my creations?
I adore working with and promoting underground designers. I welcome inquiries.
I love your aesthetic. How did you come about your unique style?
I’ve become synonymous with my “style,” which essentially is just ME.
I’ve always been drawn to the elegance and grace of the silent screen era, gypsies and fortune tellers, the occult, and 1970s rock. My style is a curious collection of passions. I’ve always felt any glamour worth its shimmer has an equally ragged, but poised edge.
I’m a videographer/photographer. May I shoot your concert?
Most likely. Please inquire with plenty of lead time so we can figure out logistics, club policies, press passes, etc.
May I interview you for my blog/zine/podcast?
Please inquire. I crave a good story. The stranger the better.
I really love your music and your approach as an independent artist. I’d like to work for you. Is this possible?
Certainly. I am always looking for great graphic designers, writers, web gurus, creatives, and brilliant eccentrics to shake things up. What do you have in mind?
I read that your piano’s name is Ulysses. What kind of piano is it?
Ulysses is a shiny black Yamaha U1F tall upright. He traveled across the country with me (wrapped in velvet) when I moved from New York City to San Francisco. He is always waiting patiently. You hear him on The Bittersweet Constrain.
Are you left-handed?
What astrological sign are you?
I am a double Moon Cancer. Doesn’t that explain everything?
JILL TRACY Fan Questions page:
Ask a question publicly, and contribute to the fascinating group-effort interview on the FAN QUESTIONS page. Please read through these as well, as your question may already have been answered here.
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