A majestic hall lined with opulently carved white marble pillars. Lush red velvet upholsters the furniture and hangs in rich curtains hemmed in gold trim. Atop a perfectly creaseless tablecloth, the finest porcelain is laid, paired with expertly polished silverware. The scene is set for a glorious evening of dignified grandeur and sophistication...but suddenly, in barge the peasants in their muddy boots, emitting a joyful cacophony of beautifully imperfect merriment. This is the sound of Zoukin.
Based in the vibrant south-east of Tasmania, this unusual duo first met during a late summer afternoon of busking in 2014. After months of continued musical experimentation on the streets of Hobart, they decided to formally join forces as a single musical entity and can now be found delivering their unique melodic creations in cafés, lounge rooms, shopping precincts, and forests all over Tasmania. When they're not making music, they like dancing to it, and when they've had enough of that, they enjoy hitchhiking, herbal infusions, exploring abandoned places, and midnight feasts of apple crumble, icecream, and exotic whiskey.
Individually, their musical experience is remarkable: Jesse McCormack (vocals, Celtic bouzouki) is a passionate multi-instrumentalist with several Australian tours, one European tour and a solo album under his belt, with a second album on the way. He has performed at many prominent events, including the Cygnet Folk Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and has collaborated with the likes of Jo Quail, Jaerv, Sarah Calderwood, and Lily and King, to name a few. As well as Zoukin, he is also a founding member of inter-generational folk trio Velvet Sledgehammer, and joins forces with the members of Melbourne-based girl group Co-Cheòl in various combinations as often as they find themselves in the same state! Emily Sheppard (violin, viola) is a keen improviser, ever curiously discovering new sounds. Trained at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne, she has toured Australia extensively, performing as part of wilderness-inspired music and poetry duo Ensō, Eureka Ensemble/Duo, and several other musical groups. She has also collaborated with the likes of Paul Kelly, Katie Noonan, Genevieve Lacey, DJ Spooky, Ben Salter, and Michael Kieran Harvey, and is an occasional member of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Collectively, these two quirky individuals constantly surprise audiences with their musical ambidexterity. They combine the works of great composers such as Vivaldi, Mozart, and Handel with the musical traditions of the Nordic and Celtic lands in a furiously bubbling melting pot. The resulting concoction is an eccentric, effervescent, and enthralling experience.