Zoe Child talks about her musical journey and first EP release
Written by Shank Wilson
“Listening back I got teary-eyed. I was so overwhelmed.” Singer/Songwriter Zoe Child is describing the feeling listening back to what she had played on the track, “Sound,” her favorite song from her soon to be released debut EP. “I really want to play it live but I’m not sure if I can,” she adds.
The power of music to move us, while largely an unexplained phenomenon, is real and something Zoe Whittaker has dedicated the majority of her life pursuing. Whittaker is a classical violinist that has been honing her craft for the past 15 years. She has a Bachelors degree in Violin Performance from College of Charleston and a Masters of Music degree from Northern Arizona. She has performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, at the Zodiac Music Festival in Southern France, and with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra in Arizona. She is currently an instructor of violin, viola, and cello.
Zoe Child, her “cosmic country” alter-ego, has been around for a mere 7 months. It’s a new avenue of expression amongst the endless lattice of musical pathways. Prior to 7 months ago, she had never played guitar, the staple instrument of her new path. “It’s actually the right hand that’s the hardest,” she says. For most beginners it’s the left hand, but for her, the major obstacle is switching the right hand from a bowing motion to a strumming motion.
In September of 2017, Zoe Whittaker and CofC music buddy Corey Campbell (Susto, Babe Club) entered the studio to begin working on the Zoe Child project. Over the next few months, the collaboration resulted in an EP.
It’s interesting to me to hear how the two close friends mesh their musical ideas. I start to wonder about the communication dynamic between Whittaker and Campbell. “We’re both music school people, so I got to speak in all those terms, which I love,” she says expressing comfort. Campbell is a tasteful guitar player with an excellent musical ear, but he is fully ingrained in the rock n’ roll side of music at this point. Zoe explains a recurring issue, “I’m always telling Corey it doesn’t have to resolve. I’m like, ‘Corey, I know you didn’t like that because it doesn’t technically fit, but it’s ok because we can go back and cadence it.’”
The Zoe Child EP is set to be released on April 28th at The Royal American.
You can find the track “Cowboy” on Bandcamp and Spotify as well as a video teaser for the catchy “Bad Luck” floating around on the internet. Julius DeAngelis (The High Divers), a very tasteful player in his own right, played drums on the EP.
You can tell a lot about a musician based on their influences, which is why so many musicians misrepresent who their primary influences really are. Zoe is different. She’s a twenty-something with timeless influences that reveal a level of respect for the historical evolution of the craft she has been pursuing. Zoe passionately lists her favorite influence as Johan Sebastian Bach, whose music dropped over 300 years ago. “He broke a lot of rules in regards to music during that time. I think it has influenced me to explore more complex harmonies and not having everything resolving immediately.” The most recent artist she lists? “The Eagles” who formed in 1971.
It’s easy to see how listening back to the song “Sound” moved her to tears when you consider that not only is this the culmination of her own 15-year journey, but it’s also within the historical context of something bigger than herself. On this song, that context is the 600 year-old acoustic instrument that is the closest to the sound of the human voice.
“It’s my love song to the violin,” she says. “No matter what words or connection with people, which is also a beautiful thing, I have this connection with the sound of the violin. It makes me feel safe, at peace, and it’s just overwhelming.”