Jo Quail is an internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist from London, UK. Equally at home on stage solo, with bands – or in collaboration with choir and orchestra –
she combines an eloquent mastery of her instrument with innovative looping techniques, to realise her complex, evocative music for audiences worldwide.
Inspired by the visual arts as much as by fellow composers, Jo cites Barbara Hepworth and Georgia O’Keefe as key influences, alongside the diverse music of Debussy, Pärt, Tool, and Trent Reznor. As a result, she freely crosses the boundaries between genres, awakening listener emotions, and taking audiences into uncharted territory with each concert. Her exuberant, celebratory performance style has won her a fanbase in the contemporary classical world as well as among enthusiasts of post-rock, metal and electronica.
Since starting to play solo in 2010, Jo has released four albums, three EPs and a live DVD. Her fourth album ‘Exsolve’ – produced by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios UK – was released in November 2018, with a double vinyl edition released in November 2019 on Jo’s own label AdderStone Records. Even for an artist so skilled in the art of balancing experimentation and elegance, ‘Exsolve’ is something of a step up – and, quite rightly, a breakthrough for Jo on various levels. The critical praise has been universal: “a work of intricacy, beauty and tension” (The 405); “for the first time making classical music’s long-standing influence on metal a two-way street” (Metal Hammer); “stunningly evocative” (Echoes and Dust).
It was no surprise to anyone following Jo’s path that the release of ‘Exsolve’ was followed nearly a year later by her collecting the ‘Limelight’ award at the Prog magazine awards. This was also an indicator of her now broad appeal: an essentially classical artist, being praised by Metal Hammer and awarded by Europe’s leading progressive music magazine. The recognition of Jo’s work has also developed in the live sphere, including many festival appearances across Europe, two appearances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the invitation of Robert Smith for his Meltdown curation, and several tours supporting MONO, Amenra, Boris, Myrkur, Battles, Caspian, and Joep Beving among others.
That she has also performed – either live or on record – with artists as diverse as FM Einheit, Eraldo Bernochhi and Poppy Ackroyd is testament to Jo’s nature: a musician of broad ability, and a personality of warmth and grace. She began her music studies at an early age, and now runs masterclasses and interactive workshops on composition, performance, looping, effects and sound modelling. She has written several pieces specifically intended for a wide combination of instruments, and mixed ability among the players, and performed them with a range of ensembles at home and abroad. She is undoubtedly a solo artist with a cooperative and inclusive mentality.
Now at a stage where she is touring throughout Europe and internationally, Jo enters 2020 with composition and performance uniting in her most ambitious project yet: April will see her take on the prestigious Roadburn Festival’s “Commissioned Music” project – an honour bestowed only on artists who have the vision to create something truly unique. An incredible landmark, but one from which there is so much more coming into view for the future.