Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A surreal television experience

On Friday I played on a morning infotainment television show on the local CBS station in Sacramento. I think this is the kind of program people must watch as they are getting ready for work, its got a little bit of everything: the weather, what's going on this weekend, a little cooking, a bit of "lite" news. The "news" on Friday was Paris Hilton. She'd been released from jail the night before and a drama was unfolding as to whether or not she'd be ordered to go back. So in between the cooking demonstrations, the traffic reports and some guy in a cowboy outfit at a rodeo, the cameras kept cutting back to what was going on outside Paris' house.

I had gotten to the station at the un-rock hour of 7am, set up my gear, did a soundcheck, powdered my nose and made myself ready to play. I've been on the set of these shows before, but never to play my solo work, and I was feeling more than a little out of place culturally. I tried not to think too hard about the weird juxtaposition of my music with what was going on, but instead focused on how extremely nice the crew and the anchors were to me, and how happy and grateful I was for this little bit of publicity and a couple free donuts. I don't have a television, but maybe this is the way people enjoy it...by not thinking too hard about it?

Anyway, lights, camera, action! I do a wee interview and play a song...all good. Then I go to hang out with Jeff in the green room until it is time for me to do it all again 45 minutes later. There are television monitors everywhere, showing the two channels produced at the station, and they are all showing different shots of Paris Hilton's house. Jeff and I were feeling a bit claustrophobic, so we go outside, but all the cars in the hot parking lot make us feel worse, so we wander back in.

The time for my second segment rolls around, and I tiptoe back out onto the set to sit back down with my cello. One of the anchors comes over to prepare what we're going to talk about. Meanwhile, the Paris Hilton thing is hitting the fan. I'm only following loosely...she has to go back to jail? A police car is picking her up at her house? People are calling in to the show with their opinion. Me and the anchor lady are sitting there waiting, any second now. Then things start getting really surreal. In walks a psychic in flowing robes. Yes, you did indeed read that correctly. A psychic walks onto the set at sits at the newsdesk. No one seems surprised by this, so I'm guessing this happens regularly. We are in California after all. I can't hear everything she's saying because the microphones are for obvious reasons not piped onto the set, but she's answering calls and telling callers how their problems will be resolved. Did she give Paris any advice I wonder?

Anyway, the cameras are training on me and the anchor now, and I see some of what she is going to say in the teleprompt "...one of the world's best avant cellists...". I get the signal to be ready and we're waiting again. I'm trying to restrain my strong desire to make insane facial expressions and devil horns over the anchor's head. Waiting, waiting...but no, something important is happening! I'm not sure where the decision comes from, but some guy with a clipboard holds his hand in a stop signal. "Wait" the anchor whispers to me, "they're changing something". The guy with the clipboard is talking to someone else, and then makes a cutting-your-throat gesture to the anchor next to me. She raises her eyebrows, shakes her head and makes the same throat-cut gesture back like a question. The guy with the clipboard nods his head vigorously and points to a television monitor I can't see. "I think they're going to go with the Paris Hilton story..." she says "I'm sorry".

And that was that...bumped off the news by Paris Hilton.

But at least I got to play once, and it sure does make for a good story. Just like the way older people remember where they were when JFK was shot, or for our generation where we were when the twin towers were hit...well, now I'll always remember where I was on the momentous day Paris Hilton was dragged back to jail in handcuffs.

Watch the segment:


Blogger Unknown said...

Hey Zoe,

You can imagine that I didn't actually see you on TV that day, or for that matter Paris, but the segment on the web was great.

I only know about you because of Exurgengy playing late one night on the Berkeley college radio. I think that you picked another good song for , um, 'tricking' some more mainstream listeners to check out your music.

And it's too bad about your interview getting cut but I guess it's vital that we know all about rich people...espicially in times like these.

Blogger R x R said...

Hey Zoe,

Just stumbled upon your blog page. A friend of mine told me that he knew of a girl who never played a cello before but had asked for one for her high school graduation -- and she had recently received her gift. I told him to tell her to listen to some Zoe Keating and I really hope he passes the message on (and I'm sure he will).

So with you being my current topic of conversation with him, I found myself listening to your CD again and then looked you up and found/read this blog posting.

...what a fantastic clip! ...very inspiring to watch you put everything together like that! makes me want to get out all my pedals and stuff and just experiment with my guitar again.

wishing you all the best and please email me your address again... still would like to send you my CD as I had promised many, many moons ago.

completely unrelated other 'news' -- i'm in the process of 'de-dreading' -- they are almost all out now but I've kept my hair long ...a painstaking process, but fun because I never thought one could have long straight hair again once dreaded... the "shave head" or "cut hair short" myth is truly a myth! Someone with dreads down to her waist had said that she was able to undo them by just cutting off a few inches and slowly combing them out. I was intrigued and started the process myself a few months back...doing a little bit at a time. But seeing your pics makes me miss mine again... hmm, oh well... there'll always be many years ahead of me to change my head in many ways... all i have to do is change my mind. :)

if you want to email me your address for the CD, you can do so thru myspace (i hope you remember me... myspace.com/randirusso) -- don't really like posting my email address online.

So best of luck to you... every little bit of mainstream exposure for an artist such as yourself is needed, now more than ever. To 'break on through to the other side' and awaken a curiosity in people who otherwise have no other means in which that curiosity can be sparked is a powerful thing. Also, in this case, if that 17 year old girl who just received a cello for her graduation gift watches this clip (i forwarded the link to my friend), the impact on her would be tremendous, i'm sure.

be well, inspire, create...


Blogger Dykonoclast said...

Squee! I'm so glad you're blogging on your own site, now on accounta I ended up deleting my myspace.

I'm crushed that you're not playing Boston, but the shows you're doing all sound amazing-- especially the one with Unwoman and Polly Panic!

You're still my favourite <3

Blogger Wonderlander said...

You're in league with the television now? Ug. Ah, well... I suppose it's a necessary step along the long and winding road to artistic success. Cheers to you for that, luv!

I'm a little sad that I missed it, but then, I don't watch television if I can help it. Far too evil for my tastes. Besides, I'm sure I was off giving candy to strangers and kicking puppies or otherwise keeping myself busy.

I have to admit, when I first heard that you left Rasputina I was really sad, but after seeing and hearing what you're up to now, I think that maybe Melora and ol' Jonny-Boy were holding you back! Keep at it, dearling, and come visit your fans out her in Colorado sometime. We miss you very much!

Blogger Unknown said...

Great, the piece, "don't worry", is very good...
thank you so much !

gavroche from France

Blogger Jes said...

A wonderful song bumped by paris hilton. Sad.

Blogger Mort said...

Dear Zoe,

It is sad to see that propaganda must set aside virtue. I viewed your clip and it was amazing, it would have been a greater touch to all had it been seen. Perhaps with some well placed emails to the station your clip could be shown (a hint to fans). I do so enjoy your music and I am sure there are millions that would love it too given the chance to hear. Thank you so much for your efforts and expressing your talents.

MORT in Germany

Blogger R. O'Connor said...


Amazing clip. Beautiful song. Very interesting to see how you build the layers live.

Hope to catch you in SF sometime.


Blogger Arri said...

Hello Zoe,
The blog post was hilarious! Bumped by Paris. Ha!
TV crapstorm aside, It is a dandy clip of you at work. Very cool and nicely presented.
On another note, skip to now, I worked on a doc in HotDocs. It's an amazing story (that is far from finished. RL, not the doc) of a burn survivor, victim of mental illness, and violin. I won't be able to be there to cheer everyone on but good wishes to your gig, the movie you worked on, and the movie I worked on.

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