A New Kind of Sound: Avant Garde Performer, Pamela Z

Pamela Z’s music is not for everyone. Her “songs” are an avant-garde fusion of the human voice and electronic sounds triggered by her body movements and hand gestures. She plucks words from their comfortable contexts and toys with the natural timbre and melody of speech, wresting beauty from unexpected places, like sheet metal and the sounds of breathing. The result is music that sits uneasily at the edge between the familiar and the surreal.

“I just think that what art does is beyond being able to be distilled down into a summary, a verbal summary,” she says. “So I find it really interesting to be able to create a whole world that is beyond being able to be explained in words.” 

Watching her, it’s easy to get distracted by her gadgets: the MIDI controllers strapped to her hands like bionic appendages, the laptop with its glowing screen and the ultrasound-activated box that sings when her fingers flutter past. But if you close your eyes, you will find yourself mesmerized by her voice, bell-like, unearthly, beyond words.

Below is an excerpt of one of Pamela Z’s solo works pieces entitled: ‘Badagada’ (2:52 mins). The performance was staged in Santa Monica, California in 2017.

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