The cherries are all gone.
This house, you see, is perched on the side of a hill and so the top of a very tall cherry tree is right out my studio window. This tree features large in my life these days. I think I've mentioned it before, but in the spring the tree puts on a riotous show of white flowers. It's great. I like to sit on the sofa upstairs and watch the sun light it up. Soon, the wind blows the petals off, and cherries start growing... little tiny green beads get fatter and bigger and then start to turn yellow. As soon as the cherries get the smallest blush of pink, they are devoured by armies of birds.
There are crazy aerial battles between blue jays, robins and acorn woodpeckers as they fight for every last cherry. Blue jays are loud! There's been the occasional visit from a grosbeak or a pair of western tanagers (listen to me, I'm all birdy now!). At every moment of the day, there are at least a handful birds in the tree simultaneously with more swooping in and out all the time. It seemed to get more and more frenetic, until yesterday... someone ate the last cherry and now all is quiet.
Which is fitting...because at long last I finished the music to the Ghostbird film. Its a documentary about the ivory-billed woodpecker and I spent many months thinking about birds, swamps, ornithologists and extinction. But now I'm done.
Finishing is hard. I like having one zillion pieces of music going on at once. I flit from one piece to another, immersing myself in each musical world and then resurfacing and diving into the next one. I consume the music and it consumes me. They are all so delicious and full of possibility...why, this dainty morsel of music...it could become a cherry pie, I could ferment it and turn it into wine! Or this one, its going to be a city made of tiny silver threads. They can be like children, chasing after every whim and full of half-understood ideas.
If you saw me working, all you'd see is me in a tiny room, sitting on a plain wooden chair, with a cello, one microphone and a laptop computer. But if only you could see what else is in here! What are they? I don't know...little creatures, complete cities, vast landscapes. I'm communicating with them, I'm closing one door to open another...and now we're running on the beach, we're walking through a charred city... now I'm adding a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon, burying something in the garden to make it grow into something new, knocking down a cathedral to build it out of leaves instead of stones....its a crazy, complicated and wonderful muddle. I can see my grade-school report card: "Zoe has a rich inner life".
But then, someday, I've got to finish. The real world beckons, people's calls need to be returned. I've got to package up my little creations, give them names...and send them off into the world to bring home some bacon.
Long suffering, patient fans...I put a fragment of music from Ghostbird up on Myspace
Somewhere in there, did I mention I played a few songs with the Dresden Dolls last month at the Fillmore in SF and the Wiltern in LA? What a thrill. They have grown in epic proportions - in every way: musically, as performers, their audience. It's fantastic to see two people just go for it. And to improvise onstage with them was one of those peak musical experiences that I live for. I had an amazing time. Plus, I got to play with violinist Meredith Yayanos, who is a dear heart and has a violin tone like cream AND...my sister Laura was there (she works merch for the Dolls).
The extremely charming Neil Girling (i.e. Mr Nightshade) took some pictures
"Fight For Your Right" w/ East Bay Ray: