Thalia Zedek live at the Buffalo Bar (London) on June 13th, 2013
Washington, D.C., United States
|Labels||Kimchee Records, Matador Records, Thrill Jockey|
|Associated acts||Dangerous Birds, Uzi, Live Skull, Come|
Thalia Zedek (born 1961) is an American singer and guitarist. Active since the early 1980s, she has been a member of several notable alternative rock groups, including Live Skull and Come. Critic Heather Phares writes that Zedek's music can be defined by "the permanent, aching rasp in her voice, her guitar's bluesy bite, the startlingly clear-eyed lyrics about life and loss."
Zedek grew up in the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. She attended Springbrook High School in Maryland, where she played clarinet in the marching band under band director Charles Sickafus. The early punk era of the late 1970s in which she came of age, and in particular Patti Smith, contributed deeply to the formation of her musical aesthetic. While still at high school, she would travel to New York with her brother, Dan Zedek (currently the editorial design director at the Boston Globe), to see Smith perform.
Zedek moved to Boston in 1979, attending Boston University for one semester before deciding to pursue a musical career instead. Her first band, the all-female White Women, broke up after a couple of years, and she formed the Dangerous Birds. This group had somewhat more success, including a single, "Smile on Your Face/Alpha Romeo", which achieved airplay on college and alternative-commercial radio; but Zedek wanted a more "violent" sound in contrast to the somewhat "girlie pop" tendencies of her Dangerous Birds bandmates. Her next project, Uzi, worked towards this aim, producing an EP, "Sleep Asylum". The EP was characterized by elusive yet subtly menacing lyrics superimposed upon lugubrious but driving instrumental tracks, featuring layers of dense, murky yet muscular guitar arrangements, blended with heady synthesizer and tape effects. However, despite the promise of "Sleep Asylum", Uzi dissolved, owing to tension between Zedek and the band's drummer, Danny Lee.
She next took the role of primary vocalist for New York City's Live Skull, a band already well established. While the album Dusted, the first product of this collaboration, reflected an intense synergy between Zedek's vocal style and the complexly histrionic instrumental work of Live Skull, the follow-up Positraction floundered, and Live Skull also disbanded, due to conflicts, in 1990. By that time, Zedek had also run into problems regarding heroin addiction. Motivated to quit, she returned to Boston and the support of her friends. She soon co-founded Come, with former Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw. It was with them that she had her biggest successes, releasing four albums before the group disbanded in 2001. In that same year, she also released Been Here and Gone, her first solo project. Since then she has released two other full-length albums and several EPs.
In spite of limited commercial success, Zedek has been highly acclaimed by music critics throughout her career, and has arguably been deeply influential within the indie-rock realm, particularly through her influence within the prolific Boston indie scene, which has spawned many noteworthy artists. She is an "out-and-proud lesbian".
- Been Here and Gone (Matador, July 31, 2001)
- Hell is in Hello (Return To Sender, August 2, 2004) Limited edition of 2000 copies
- Trust Not Those in Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness (Thrill Jockey, September 14, 2004)
- Liars and Prayers (Thrill Jockey, April 22, 2008)
- Via (Thrill Jockey, March 19, 2013)
- You're a Big Girl Now (Acuarela/Kimchee Records, 2002) CD only
- The Nature of Drones (Self-released, 2005) 7-song, 35-minute CD-R EP, home-recorded and self-released exclusively for the July 2005 Australian tour (remaining copies were available only through Thrill Jockey Mail Order). It contains 4 songs, 1 cover ("House of the Rising Sun") and 2 reworkings of older work ("Evil Hand", "JJ85").
- Live at Tonic, NYC 1/16/2000 (Self-released, 2000)
- Biography from Matador Records
- Biography of Thalia Zedek
- Thalia Zedek - A Different Girl
- Interview with Thalia Zedek on Well-Rounded Radio for 2008's Liars and Prayers album
- Gig Review at Corsica Studios, London (5/10/08)