Jill Tracy

Jill Tracy

Jill Tracy in 2010
Background information
Genres glam noir, dark cabaret, post classical, gothic rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, composer, pianist, storyteller, host
Instruments piano, voice
Years active 1995––present
Website www.JILLTRACY.com

Jill Tracy is a singer, pianist, writer, composer, performance artist and "musical evocateur" based in San Francisco.[1]

Known for her dark, evocative, cinematic style, Jill Tracy states that some of her biggest childhood influences were film score composers such as Bernard Herrmann, and classic suspense tales, including Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang films, Ray Bradbury stories, and Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone. In an interview, she stated, "I learned from watching 'The Twilight Zone' that often it was what you didn’t see that really put the fear in you... How a story could evoke such emotion and response essentially revealing so little. I abide by that in my approach to music. It’s the breath, the spaces between the notes and the arrangements that make the work come alive. The Soul lives in the silence."[2]

She thinks of her music as a portal, a "way-in" and calls this seductive and magical place she inhabits the "elegant side of the netherworld." [3]

Jill Tracy is listed in San Francisco Magazine's Top 100 Creative Forces in the Bay Area, has been awarded "Best of the Bay" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and has been nominated for two California Music Awards and SF Weekly Music Awards. She was called "a femme fatale for the thinking man” by the San Francisco Chronicle, which is a moniker that is now frequently used to describe her.[4]


Following her 1996 solo debut CD Quintessentially Unreal, Tracy released Diabolical Streak (1999), her first studio album featuring The Malcontent Orchestra. The song "Evil Night Together" was awarded the SIBL international Grand Prize for songwriting. The album was listed among the "Top 10 Neo-Cabaret albums of all time" in Shift magazine. "Evil Night Together" has been featured on the CBS show NCIS, and Showtime chose the tune to promote the final season of Dexter (2013) in a promo entitled "The Final Symphony."[5]

"The Fine Art of Poisoning," also from Diabolical Streak, became an animated short film in 2003, a collaboration with Bay Area animator Bill Domonkos. "The Fine Art of Poisoning" has garnered film festival awards internationally, including Best Experimental Film in the 2003 New Orleans Film Festival as well as Best Music Video in both the 2003 Chicago and Seattle International Film Festivals. Clive Barker became a fan of her work after seeing "The Fine Art of Poisoning" and called it "both seductive and terrifying." [6] FEARnet licensed "The Fine Art of Poisoning" in 2012 as part of their permanent short film collection.[7]

Jill Tracy and The Malcontent Orchestra's original score to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent vampire classic Nosferatu debuted live at San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema in 1999 and toured Northern California theatres during Halloween season for five consecutive years. This led to the 2002 CD release Into the Land of Phantoms, selections from the Nosferatu score.

Jill Tracy released her fourth album, The Bittersweet Constrain, in 2008 produced by Alex Nahas. This album has a heavier sonic edge with the addition of exotic instruments such as the sarod, harmonium, and Chapman Stick. The surreal sepia portraits of Jill Tracy on the album are by outsider photographer Michael Garlington.[8]

Since joining forces with the Atlanta-based violinist Paul Mercer in 2007, the two have become revered for their unique traveling show "The Musical Seance," featuring channeled duets on piano and violin. Music is manifested via tales and treasured artifacts brought by the audience, their energy, and emotions.[9]

Intrigued with what she refers to as “spontaneous musical combustion,” Jill Tracy immerses herself in peculiar locations laden with history and curious backstory. After in depth research, she composes music “on the spot” while in the surroundings. She says "This is a beautiful and sometimes frightening study of the power of the immediate: Music lurks everywhere. Every object has a story to tell." She has composed music at Victoria B.C.'s landmark Craigdarroch Castle, Los Angeles' historical Dibble Mansion, abandoned asylums, cemeteries and others.[10]

Jill Tracy is the first musician in history to receive a grant from the renowned Mütter Museum in Philadelphia (Francis C. Wood Institute), the nation’s foremost collection of medical oddities. As of 2013, she is currently creating a musical work and accompanying book inspired by the Mütter collection, and her experiences after-dark composing inside the museum.[11]

For over a decade, Jill Tracy has been “Belle of the Ball” at the wildly popular Edwardian Ball, an annual lavish costumed event in San Francisco and Los Angeles, drawing thousands of spectators worldwide in homage to artist Edward Gorey.[12]







Written Works


  1. Jill Tracy Interview sfist.com 26 October 2005. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  2. Jill Tracy Interview tor.com 12 November 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  3. Jill Tracy Interview laweekly.com 20 August 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  4. San Francisco Chronicle article sfgate.com 12 August 2004. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  5. ‘Dexter’ Season 8 Trailer: The Final Symphony Begins tvequals.com 25 April 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  6. tor.com 2009
  7. FEARnet Shorts
  8. Jill Tracy Interview sepiachord.com 16 September 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  9. tor.com 2009
  10. Jill Tracy Interview FEARnet.com 18 October 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  11. Jill Tracy Interview Chain D.L.K., 20 April 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  12. Tales from the Edwardian Ball EdwardianBall.com


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