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Oct 10th
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The Runaway

music ZoeBoekbinder2Zoe Boekbinder bids farewell to the left coast with wispy, looping folk-pop

hen she tells you that she "escaped from the circus" to start her solo act, Zoe Boekbinder is talking about parting ways with her previous band, Vermillion Lies, which she formed and played in with her sister, Kim, from 2004 to 2009.

But Boekbinder could easily be talking about other episodes in her life when she decided to break from the norm to pursue other passions. She has lived much of her life like a gypsy—bouncing from town to town practicing different forms of performance art all the way.

And on Friday, fresh off a European tour, her travels will lead her up and over the hill from her current camp in Oakland to perform her brand of wispy, looping and percussive folk-pop at The Crepe Place.

Born on a farm in Ontario, Canada, the singer/songwriter traveled all over North America with her family "in a big red truck, pulling a trailer." They lived in communes and other "hippie kinds of places"—"I grew up naked by a river, pretty much," Boekbinder says.

After high school, she studied to be a clown and learned to travel on the cheap. Though she hasn't used her clowning abilities much, she says they have been incredibly valuable to her as a musician. "Clowns are very vulnerable," she says. It's a character trait she clearly appreciates and one that shows itself in her own music.

"At your bidding I fell 50 feet into salt water," she sings on "Salt Water," from her latest album, 2011's Darling Specimens. "I scrambled to hold on or be lost forever/You said it was for my own sake/and watched as I was swallowed in the wake."

Boekbinder delivers the words in a high, quavering voice—resonant and clear as a bell—over crisp finger picking and a clickity-clacking rhythm that sounds like it was built somewhat haphazardly out of an open palm gently thumping on acoustic guitars and chopsticks clattering on dinnerware. "How was I supposed to know I would end up in the undertow?"

In many ways Boekbinder's act is reminiscent of Merrill Garbus' project, tUnE-yArDs. Both are denizens of Oakland and both write and perform songs using looping pedals, which they deploy to sample their voice and instruments, building phrase upon phrase until they've constructed the entire foundation of a song. And then they sing over that. They even have similar haircuts.

But where tUnE-yArDs is explosive, Boekbinder is subdued and delicate, owing more to folk and Americana than the hip-hop-referencing Garbus. The two have never met, though Boekbinder thinks they may have mutual friends.

Darling Specimens has proven to be somewhat of a departure for Boekbinder, who has been accustomed to working on her own, since putting out her three-song demo, Over the Top, and full-length, Artichoke Perfume, both in September 2010. A five-song EP was recorded some time ago, but now is completely out of print.

While the previous album was acoustic, with few contributors, Darling Specimens, produced by Shenandoah Davis, features intricate arrangements performed by a large group of players and beats—all of them composed of found-sound samples and performed by a percussion trio. "We recorded all the beats using random stuff that we could bang on," Boekbinder says.

After living in Oakland for six years—the longest she has ever lived in a single place, aside from the town she was born—Boekbinder is making plans to move to New Orleans. "The show in Santa Cruz is part of my goodbye to California," she says.

It would seem that Boekbinder is preparing to flee the circus once more. 

Zoe Boekbinder performs at 9 p.m. Friday, July 13 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 429-6994.

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Mercury Direct in Libra, Columbus Day, Libra New Moon

Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


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