A cellist since the age of eight, Keating pursued electronic music and contemporary composition as part of her Liberal Arts studies at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. After graduation she moved to San Francisco and built a career as an information architect and data analyst while moonlighting as a cellist in rock bands. Keating eventually combined her love of music and technology, using a computer to live-layer her cello and performing for late-night after-parties in her San Francisco warehouse.
She is known for both her use of technology - which she uses to sample her cello onstage - and for her DIY approach, releasing her music online without the help of a record label.
Keating composes for TV, theater, film and dance. She composed, along with collaborator Jeff Russo, scores for the A&E series "The Returned" and for WGN's "Manhattan", a drama about the making of the atomic bomb. Her songs are used as bumper music for NPR’s Morning Edition, as the theme music to OnBeing, as the thinking-music of the Sherlock Holmes character on CBS Elementary and in countless films, commercials, TV shows and documentaries.
Her music has achieved a surprising degree of popular ubiquity for a DIY artist. Her self-produced album "One Cello x 16: Natoma" was four times #1 on the iTunes classical charts and her follow-up album "Into the Trees" spent 47 weeks on the Billboard classical chart, peaking at #7. Her music has been used in over 20,000 third-party videos uploaded to Youtube, in everything from dance performances, films, plays, live paintings, climbing videos and live gaming soundtracks. Her advocacy for DIY artists stems, in part, from her efforts to obtain some income from official and unofficial uses while at the same time allowing people to use her music in their own artistic expression.
A vocal advocate for the rights of artists and creators, Keating writes and speaks often about copyright and the mechanics of the music industry economy. She was elected a governor of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and served as a boardmember of CASH Music, a nonprofit organization that built open source digital tools for musicians and labels.
As a cellist Zoë has played with a wide range of artists, including Imogen Heap, Amanda Palmer, Guy Sigsworth, Tears for Fears, DJ Shadow, Dan Hicks, Thomas Dolby, Sean Ono Lennon, John Vanderslice, Rasputina, Pomplamoose and Paolo Nutini.
In 2014, Zoë's husband Jeffrey Rusch, who founded the arts warehouse where they lived and where she started her music career, was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. While she halted her music career to care for him and their then four-year old son, their struggles with health care and insurance became a new subject of her blog. Following Jeff's death in 2015, Zoë continued to advocate for patients, data portability and the simplification of medical insurance, culminating in a meeting with President Obama in October of 2016.
In 2017 Zoë moved to Burlington, Vermont. Her latest recording, a four song EP called "Snowmelt", was released in 2018 and spent 10 weeks on the Billboard Classical Charts. She is currently working on another album.
"...a distinctive mix of old and new -- layers of sound, that feel more like orchestrations than a solo instrument. " - National Public Radio
"Swoon-inducing. Like taking a triple-shot of Absinthe before stepping outside of the bar just in time to see the sun exploding." -SF Weekly
"... uses live looping to transform solo performances into multipart masterpieces." - Electronic Musician
"...sublime minimalist music with a pop sensibility" - San Francisco Weekly
Creative Capital Foundation, 2009. Performing Arts grant
San Francisco Artsfest, 2005. Emerging artist award
Belle Foundation, 2005. Artistic development grant
World Economic Forum, 2011. Young Global Leader