Frequently Asked Question
Q: What does the X stand for?
A: Nothing. It’s just X.
Shortish bio (270 words)
AMY X NEUBURG (Oakland, California) has been developing her own brand of irreverently genre-crossing works for voice, live electronics and chamber ensembles for over 25 years, known for her innovative use of live looping technology with electronic percussion, her 4-octave vocal range and her colorful — often humorous — lyrics. One of the earliest performers to work with live digital looping, Amy has presented her solo “avant-cabaret” songs at such diverse venues as the Other Minds and Bang on a Can new music festivals, the Berlin International Poetry Festival, the Wellington and Christchurch Jazz Festivals (New Zealand), the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, electronic music festivals, colleges, rock clubs and concert halls throughout the U.S. and abroad.
As composer, commissions for voices and chamber ensembles — often with electronics — include Paul Dresher ensemble, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Robin Cox Ensemble, Present Music, Solstice vocal ensemble, Pacific Mozart Ensemble chorus, Sqwonk, and Del Sol String Quartet. Her acclaimed song cycle The Secret Language of Subways for voice, cello trio and electronics has played at Yerba Buena Center, the San Francisco Symphony After Hours, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Left Coast Festival. She has also composed extensively for theater, visual media and modern dance.
A classically trained vocalist, Amy has been featured in contemporary operas and recordings including works by Robert Ashley, Culture Clash and Guillermo Galindo.
Amy received degrees in linguistics and voice from Oberlin College and Conservatory and an MFA in electronic music from Mills College. Her many grants and honors include Arts International, the Gerbode Foundation, Meet the Composer, The U.S. Embassy New Zealand, SF Friends of Chamber Music, and the Alpert/Ucross prize.
The Full Story
Oakland-based singer, composer, lyricist, sound artist and electronic instrument performer AMY X NEUBURG has developed a unique career bridging the boundaries between classical, experimental and popular musics. She’s best known for her wildly entertaining ’avant-cabaret’ songs, which combine poetic wordplay, expressive use of music technology, and exploration of multiple genres using the many colors of her four-octave vocal range. Amy was one of the earliest performers to work with live digital looping, in which voices or other instruments are recorded, played back and overdubbed to construct a gradually building layered composition live on stage. Using a set of drum pads and her signature pink sticks to play all looping and sonic events in real time, Amy is still considered one of the most innovative and theatrically engaging live looping artists working today. Her imaginative and often humorous lyrics touch on the personal, the political, and everything in between.
Amy has performed throughout the U.S. and internationally at venues as diverse as the Other Minds Festival (Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco), the Berlin International Poetry Festival, the Wellington and Christchurch jazz festivals (New Zealand), The Warsaw Philharmonic chamber series, New York venues including Roulette, Joe’s Pub, and the Bang on a Can Marathon at Symphony Space, and myriad college residencies, rock clubs and electronic music festivals at home and abroad.
In recent years Amy has expanded her live looping experiments to include acoustic chamber ensembles, layering small groups into large ones. Her project The Secret Language of Subways — a 13-song cycle for voice, three cellos, looping and electronic percussion — has seen high-profile performances at the San Francisco Symphony After Hours, the Los Angeles Philharmonic West Coast Left Coast Festival, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She has received commissions (for works with and without electronics) from Paul Dresher Ensemble, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Mozart Ensemble chorus, Del Sol String Quartet, Santa Cruz New Music Works, Present Music (Milwaukee), Robin Cox Ensemble (LA), Christchurch Arts Centre (New Zealand), Sqwonk, and The Jewish Music Festival, among others. For the JMF, Amy composed Fill as Desired — a looped multi-language song cycle based on recipes collected by women of the Terezin concentration camp; the work is now in recording by Solstice vocal ensemble.
A classically trained singer, Amy has been featured in numerous contemporary works and recordings. She toured the U.S., Europe and Japan with three Robert Ashley operas, sang and drummed with Culture Clash in their musical The Birds (music by Michael Roth) at the Berkeley and South Coast Reps, and performed the leading role of Simone Weil in Anne Carson and Guillermo Galindo’s opera Decreation: Fight Cherries. Other favorite vocal performances include a recital of Marc Blitzstein songs (with tenor John Duykers) at Other Minds’ Blitzstein Centennial, an appearance with Present Music singing Louis Andriessen’s M is for Man, Music, Mozart, and a recent collaboration with the Paul Dresher ensemble in which 10 composers created works for her to sing with the ensemble.
Amy has composed extensively for dance and visual media. For modern dance, her music and sound-design credits include work with Cynthia Adams, AXIS, Sonya Delwaide, Joe Goode, Nina Haft, Thaïs Mazur, Claudine Naganuma, Randee Paufve, Nicole Richter, Terry Sendgraff and Ellen Webb; often Amy performs live on stage interactively with the dancers. She has composed for filmmakers Owen Land, Lynn Hershman, and Searchlight Films, as well as for local theater productions and art installations by PARC researchers (most notably Nightfall at Yerba Buena Center). In 2000/2001 Amy was composer for Mondomedia’s irreverent Piki & Poko in Starland web animations.
As collaborator and producer, Amy spent 10 years singing and drumming with her electronic band Amy X Neuburg & Men, who performed up and down the west coast and staged multimedia happenings such as the Virile Vednesdays at Venue 9 series and the Irish April Fool’s Passover. Before that she was a member of the experimental music-theater ensemble MAP, with whom she co-created the one-act musicals Walk Out and The Point and performed socially relevant guerilla street theater. As a partner of IS Productions Amy co-produced numerous experimental music and theater events, including the 2002 Electric Words Festival and many large-scale MAP and Men performances. She helped produce the This Here Show improv series at Temescal Arts, and is currently on the committee for the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. From time to time she curates and hosts an Avant-Cake House Concert at her home in Oakland.
Amy received degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (voice) and Oberlin College (linguistics), and an MFA in Electronic Music from the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music, as well as a Cambridge certificate in teaching English as a Second Language. Among her influential professors were composers Conrad Cummings and Pauline Oliveros and voice teacher Daune Mahy. Awards and honors include Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Kappa Lambda, Oberlin Conservatory Honors, the Wieland Prize for Vocal Excellence, and the Alpert/Ucross prize; residencies with Music Omi, Djerassi, Nautilus Composers & Playwrights, and the Arts Centre of Christchurch; and grants from Arts International, the Gerbode Foundation, the U.S. Embassy New Zealand, Meet the Composer, the East Bay Community Foundation, Zellerbach, SF Friends of Chamber Music, LEF, and William & Flora Hewlett. In 2005 Amy was featured in the book The Art of Digital Music: 56 Visionary Artists & Insiders Reveal their Creative Secrets (Backbeat Books), and she has been interviewed about her recording and looping techniques in Electronic Musician, Guitar Player, and other national and international music industry publications. In 2007 Amy was profiled on KQED TV’s Spark.
Amy was born in Cheltenham, England, grew up in rural Maryland and in Princeton, New Jersey, and has lived in Oakland, California, for over 25 years.