In a dark Minneapolis jazz club, three anonymous musicians take the stage. The usual rituals of tuning and testing, smiling and carrying on, and then the lead singer steps up to the microphone. It only takes a few songs to appreciate the underestimated prowess of the band; the churning bass, the precision in the drumming, and a feisty singer whose melancholy adroitness shines through her toned-down Joplin-esque voice and ferocious, half-prostrated guitar solos. This is Holly Newsom and Zoo Animal, a band marked by a soulful yet minimal electrofolk sound and introspective, sometimes spiritual lyrics. Both of their studio albums are a bit of an acquired taste, as the stark setup doesn’t always translate as well in a recording, but they’re instantly lovable live, and demonstrate Newsom and the band’s true potential. Webcuts recently caught up with Holly to learn a little more about Zoo Animal.

01. Who are you?

Holly Newsom on vocals and guitar, Tim Abramson on Bass, Thom Burton on Drums and backing vocals. The name came from being partial to cursive Z’s, Minneapolis band since January 1, 2008.

02. What do you sound like?

Radiohead, Nirvana, Lou Reed, and Phillip Glass in a blender

03. What do friends say you sound like?

Cat Power and the Pixies

04. Full-time musicians or wage slaves?

Wage slaves until further notice

05. Current band highlight?

West coast tour of June 2009 and being a part of this really positive Minneapolis Scene

06. Favourite decade for music?


07. Should music be free?

Only if you’re existing in an economy where everyone else’s work is free

08. Which 3 musicians would you invite round for dinner?

Barbra Streisand, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Thom Yorke. -Holly

09. Preferred tour reading?

David Foster Wallace it seems.

10. Best mood for songwriting?

Any moment of vigor.

11. Last record you bought?

Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

12. Five favourite albums?

The three I think of at this very moment (likely to change in the next moment)…Sam Phillips – A Boot and a Shoe, Radiohead – Hail to the Thief, Talking Heads – 77, Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me, Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood -Holly

13. Your biggest rock and roll fantasy?

Not have a day job. That’s all we ask.

14. Goals for the next 12 months?

Tour, Tour, Write.

15. First time listeners, where should they start?

At a live performance if possible.