Tara Jane O'Neil

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  • Tara Jane O'Neil
  • Photo by Elena MárquezPhoto by Elena Marquez

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tara Jane O’Neil creates melodic and experimental music under her own name and in collaboration with other artists, bands, and filmmakers. Her work innately crosses genres and boundaries — drawings that morph from natural forms to linear abstractions, melodic songcraft melded with experimental noise. Live performances range from solo construction to large ensemble improvisation. Dance, film and theater scores accompany the work, each telling the story in a dialect all their own. Though they spring from the same source, each piece takes a distinct form — several genies emerging from a single lamp.

Her musical life started at the tender age of 19 as the bass player for the influential and short lived art-punk ensemble Rodan in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. During the 1990’s, O’Neil played in the duo Retsin and non-epic chamber rock band the Sonora Pine, and collaborated with many other groups. In New York City, she recorded her first solo album, Peregrine, in the bathtub of her Ludlow Street apartment; its 2000 release on Quarterstick Records marked the start of O’Neil’s increasingly complex and beautiful solo releases, most recently 2009’s A Ways Away [KLP207].

In 2003 she moved to Portland, Oregon. While writing her own music, O’Neil has also collaborated with Papa M, Ida, Mirah, Michael Hurley, Jackie O’Motherfucker, and the King Cobra; scored soundtracks for film and theater; and records instrumental music under the moniker Strange Clouds. O’Neil is also an accomplished visual artist whose paintings and drawings have exhibited worldwide, and appeared on several record covers and in numerous publications; two books of her artwork have been published, Who Takes A Feather (Map Press, Japan, 2003) and Wings. Strings. Meridians: A Blighted Bestiary (Yeti, 2007.)

She recorded a self-titled collaboration with Nikaido Kazumi, with whom she spent two years turning their four-day recording session into gorgeous intuitive guitar and voice duets that create a collection of orchestral collages which are truly a unique delight for the ears.

Recently, O'Neil has relocated to Los Angeles.  This spring, she is releasing a new single on K, the Connections 7".  She can be found this April organizing a festival or Portland art and music being presented by the Pompidou and its adjacent venues in Paris and Metz with fellow K artists Mirah and Tender Forever.


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