Interview: Jill Tracy's "Elegant Side of the Netherworld"
Think of Jill Tracy's music as the soundtrack for Union Station filmed in black and white during the eerie build-up to a startlingly romantic plot twist. Describing her sound as "the elegant side of the netherworld," Tracy has a voice that prompts images of spirits haunting art deco hallways and a knack for writing songs that unfold like the story lines of F.W. Murnau movies that were never made.
The first time I caught the San Francisco-based singer and pianist live was earlier this year at Gothla, where she provided the musical accompaniment for renowned belly dancer Tempest, who resembled a silent film star. The image straddled vintage and modern worlds, creating a unique vision. With interest rising in modern interpretations of pre-World War II twentieth century culture, Tracy has become a cult darling in recent years. She has been performing with her band The Malcontent Orchestra, as well as taking on solo engagements, since the late-1990s. In 1999, they scored F.W. Murnau's classic Nosferatu, which can be heard on the 2002 release Into the Land of Phantoms. Tracy's fourth full-length The Bittersweet Constrain, was released last year. She will be performing at tonight's dinner and music event Cambret Noir at Citizen Smith in Hollywood alongside Nicki Jaine (Black Tape for a Blue Girl), Regan Remy and Paul Mercer.
Last week, Tracy and I engaged in a brief exchange on Twitter about sad songs and "the art of melancholy." That conversation led to the following interview.