Michael Hearst

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Michael Hearst
Michael Hearst.jpg
Michael Hearst performing at Joe's Pub in New York, NY.
Background information
Born (1972-12-27) December 27, 1972 (age 44)
Origin Virginia Beach, Virginia, US
Genres Alternative rock, Experimental music, Soundtrack
Occupation(s) Composer, musician, writer
Instruments Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals, Claviola, Theremin, Bass, Drums, Daxophone
Years active 1991 to present
Associated acts One Ring Zero, Songs For Ice Cream Trucks, Unusual Creatures, Extraordinary People, Anon, Maud Gonne, Fashion Central, Schwa
Website michaelhearst.com

Michael Marcus Hearst (born December 27, 1972 in Virginia Beach, Virginia) is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, writer, and producer. He is best known as a founding member of the eclectic musical group One Ring Zero, and for his solo albums Songs For Ice Cream Trucks, Songs For Unusual Creatures, Songs For Fearful Flyers, and the children's books Unusual Creatures, Extraordinary People, and Curious Constructions. He has also composed the music for a number of films including The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, Chicken People, To Be Takei, Magic Camp, and House of Suh.[1] In 2014, he co-produced and co-directed Unusual Creatures, a ten episode series for PBS Digital Studios.[2]

Founded in Richmond, Virginia, in 1997, One Ring Zero moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 2001. The group's works are often programmatic and/or collaborative. They include As Smart As We Are, featuring lyrics by Paul Auster, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem, A.M. Homes, Neil Gaiman, Rick Moody and Dave Eggers. The book/CD The Recipe Project is a collection of recipes set to music and sung word for word in the musical style suggested by the chefs, including Mario Batali, Chris Cosentino, Andrea Reusing, David Chang, John Besh, Mark Kurlansky, Michael Symon, and Isa Chandra Moskowitz.[3] Planets is a collection of compositions representing the solar system and beyond.[4] Hearst says of Planets, "It had been just about 100 years since Holst had composed his song cycle The Planets. It seemed like it was time to musically revisit our solar system and come up with our own song cycle."[5]

Hearst's solo work includes the albums Songs For Ice Cream Trucks, Songs For Unusual Creatures, and Songs For Fearful Flyers, as well as the audio website Songs For Newsworthy News, and soundtracks to several films, including Chicken People, The House of Suh, Magic Camp, To Be Takei, and The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, and Chicken People. His album, Songs For Unusual Creatures, is a collection of songs inspired by lesser-known animals. It includes works composed for Kronos Quartet, The Microscopic Septet, Margaret Leng Tan, and the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots.[6] Songs For Fearful Flyers features seven compositions intended to calm nervous travelers. The album features a cameo from actress Whoopi Goldberg.[7]

Hearst established Urban Geek Studios and Urban Geek Records, where he has produced, recorded, and worked on post-production for Guided by Voices, Tanya Donelly, Kansas, The Holy Modal Rounders, and Robert Creeley.

Hearst has performed and given lectures and workshops at universities, museums, and cultural centers around the world. He has also appeared on NPR's Fresh Air,[8][9] A+E's Breakfast With The Arts, and NBC's The Today Show.

As a writer, Hearst's stories have appeared in literary journals such as McSweeney's Internet Tendency,[10] Post Road,[11] Parenthetical Note,[12] The Lifted Brow,[13] and The Muse Apprentice Guild.[14] He wrote the non-fiction children's books Unusual Creatures,[15] Extraordinary People,[16] and Curious Constructions.[17]

Hearst earned a degree in music composition from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1995, where he studied under Dika Newlin.

Notable mentions[edit]

On May 13, 2017, Hearst delivered the keynote address to Virginia Commonwealth University's School Of The Arts. The commencement ceremony took place at the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia.[18]

On February 28, 2012, the Kronos Quartet performed the world premiere of Hearst's composition "Secret Word" at Zankel Hall. The work is a tribute to the late-1980s television series Pee-wee's Playhouse. For the debut performance, Hearst joined the quartet on stage, performing claviola, theremin, and daxophone, and also conducting a toy instrument orchestra of audience members who took the stage.[19]

In 2010, Hearst began co-writing music with Tanya Donelly, and in October 2011 performed with her at concerts in New York City and Boston, along with Rick Moody, Claudia Gonson, Hannah Marcus, Sam Davol, and Carrie Bradley.[20]

In April 2009, Hearst performed Terry Riley's Concert in C alongside the Kronos Quartet, Philip Glass, Dave Douglas, Osvaldo Golijov, Morton Subotnick, and many others at Carnegie Hall in New York City.[21]

In 2008, Hearst toured with The Magnetic Fields as their support act, reading flash-non-fiction stories, and performing selections from Songs For Newsworthy News.[22]



  • Schwa Footleg Room (1991) (Joe Lee Records)
  • Schwa Phoney Karate (1992) (Joe Lee Records)
  • Fashion Central Underwood (1994) (Brilliant Records)
  • Maud Gonne Buff Silky (1996) (Urban Geek Records)
  • Maud Gonne Bonus Songs (1997) (Urban Geek Records)
  • Anon Anon (1998) (Urban Geek Records)
  • One Ring Zero Tranz Party (1999) (Planetary Records)
  • One Ring Zero Alice (2001) (Urban Geek Records)
  • One Ring Zero Interludes and Out-takes from The Pumpkin Pie Show” (2001) (Urban Geek Records)
  • One Ring Zero Memorandum (2002) (Urban Geek Records)
  • One Ring Zero As Smart As We Are” (2004) (Soft Skull Press)
  • Rick Moody and One Ring Zero Rick Moody and One Ring Zero (2004) (Isota Records)
  • One Ring Zero New York Spleen (2005) (Naïve Records-France)
  • Sophie Auster Sophie Auster (2005) (Actes Sud / Naïve Records)
  • One Ring Zero As Smart As We Are (2006) (Barbes Records)
  • One Ring Zero Wake Them Up (2006) (Barbes Records)
  • One Ring Zero Wake Them Up (2007) (Moor Works-Japan)
  • Michael Hearst Songs For Ice Cream Trucks (2007) (Urban Geek Records/Bar-None Records)
  • Beat Circus Dreamland (2008) (Cuneiform Records)
  • One Ring Zero Live At Barbes (2008) (Barbes Records)
  • One Ring Zero Ten Years Of Extra Stuff (2009) (Urban Geek Records)
  • One Ring Zero Planets (2010) (Moor Works-Japan)
  • One Ring Zero Planets (2010) (Urban Geek Records)
  • One Ring Zero As Smart As We Are (2010) (Moor Works-Japan)
  • One Ring Zero The Recipe Project (2011) (Urban Geek Records / Black Balloon Publishing)
  • Michael Hearst Songs For Unusual Creatures (2012) (Urban Geek Records)
  • Michael Hearst To Be Takei (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2014) (Urban Geek Records)
  • Michael Hearst Songs For Fearful Flyers (2014) (Urban Geek Records)


  • Schwa (1993) (Brilliant Records)
  • Fashion Central (1995) (Spin Art Records)
  • One Ring Zero “The Sirens of Red Hot” (2004) (Isota Records)
  • One Ring Zero and Rick Moody (2004) (Isota Records)

Film Scores[edit]


  • As Smart As We Are (2004) (Soft Skull Press)
  • New York Spleen (2005) (Naïve Records-France)
  • The Recipe Project (2011) (Black Balloon Publishing)
  • Unusual Creatures (2012) (Chronicle Books)
  • Extraordinary People (2015) (Chronicle Books)
  • Curious Constructions (2017) (Chronicle Books)


  • One Ring Zero "Addendum" (2005) (music video collection)[23]
  • As subject One Ring Zero “As Smart As They Are” (2006) (documentary film)[24]
  • Songs For Unusual Creatures (2013–2014) (PBS Digital) 10 episode series.[25]
  1. "The Aye-aye" (pilot episode)
  2. "The Jesus Christ Lizard"
  3. "The Elephant Shrew"
  4. "The Giant Anteater"
  5. "The Glass Frog"
  6. "The Magnapinna Squid"
  7. "The Blobfish"
  8. "The Sea Pig"
  9. "The Tardigrade"
  10. "The Chinese Giant Salamander"
  11. "The Bilby"


  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1637048/
  2. ^ http://video.pbs.org/program/songs-unusual-creatures/
  3. ^ http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/09/one-ring-zeros-recipe-music-project.html
  4. ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12773509&ps=rs
  5. ^ http://www.amnh.org/news/tag/planets/
  6. ^ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=michael-hearst-lemur-robots
  7. ^ http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-11-26/if-youre-afraid-fly-check-out-new-album
  8. ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10810961
  9. ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3312149
  10. ^ http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2003/01/9hearthem3.html
  11. ^ http://www.postroadmag.com/
  12. ^ http://www.parentheticalnote.com/toc.htm
  13. ^ http://www.theliftedbrow.com/?page_id=27
  14. ^ http://www.muse-apprentice-guild.com/spring_2003/michaelhearst-fiction/home.html
  15. ^ http://www.unusualcreatures.com/
  16. ^ https://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-People-Semi-Comprehensive-Fascinating-Individuals/dp/1452127093/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418227433&sr=1-1&keywords=extraordinary+people+hearst
  17. ^ https://www.amazon.com/Curious-Constructions-Portfolio-Fascinating-Structures/dp/1452144842
  18. ^ http://arts.vcu.edu/michael-hearsts-may-2017-commencement-address/
  19. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/arts/music/kronos-quartet-at-zankel-hall.html
  20. ^ http://www.joespub.com/component/option,com_shows/task,view/Itemid,40/id,5831
  21. ^ http://www.carnegiehall.org/article/box_office/events/evt_11287.html?selecteddate=04242009
  22. ^ http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2008/10/last_night_the_magnetic_fields.php
  23. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480836/?ref_=nm_knf_t3
  24. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454782/
  25. ^ https://www.youtube.com/user/unusualcreatures/videos

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]