Elizabeth & The Catapult is a Brooklyn-based artist, consisting of singer-songwriter Elizabeth Ziman. She is best known for her 2009 album Taller Children, produced by Mike Mogis and released on Verve Forecast.
Ziman, who grew up in Greenwich Village, trained from youth as a classical pianist, writing her first songs on an upright piano in the laundry room, using a running clothes dryer as a metronome. She attended the Berklee College of Music on a scholarship to study classical composition, and was awarded the 2001 ASCAP Leiber and Stoller scholarship for her song "Like Water is to Sand." Her original plans to pursue film scoring were changed in 2002 when Patti Austin came to Berklee to recruit background vocalists for an Ella Fitzgerald tribute tour. Ziman toured with Austin for 18 months, causing her subsequent compositional style to draw heavily from jazz vocalists such as Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn. She met Esperanza Spalding through the Patti Austin band and Spalding eventually played bass in Ziman's first band while still attending Berklee.
Ziman met Via Audio drummer and fellow student Dan Molad at a party during their final semester at Berklee, and they began performing together shortly afterward. Guitarist Pete Lalish, another Berklee student, later joined the band after Ziman saw him performing at a Boston bar and invited him to collaborate. After Ziman and Molad completed their studies, the band moved to Brooklyn in early 2005. Using Molad's home studio, the band financed, recorded and produced an EP, Elizabeth & The Catapult in 2006. The band was the featured Billboard Underground Artist for October 2006, and signed with Verve Records in 2008.
Having been popular for years on New York's Lower East Side, the band achieved a measure of national notoriety in the spring of 2009 with their first album under Verve, Taller Children. The band chose to travel to Omaha, Nebraska to record the album in the studio of Mike Mogis. Ziman wrote all the songs on the album with the exception of the Leonard Cohen cover "Everybody Knows," and several of the tracks were derived from demos recorded previously in Molad's home studio. The album was recorded quickly, and the band returned to New York shortly thereafter and released the album in June 2009.
The Other Side of Zero
In 2009, Ziman was commissioned by John Schaefer of NPR's Soundcheck to write a song cycle for a Lincoln Center show. Having gone through a breakup, Ziman turned to Leonard Cohen's poetry collection Book of Longing. Ziman and Molad, now working as a duo, recorded demos for much of the new album, The Other Side of Zero, at Molad's father's home in Austin, Texas, before following their record label's suggestion of working with a producer. Molad suggested Tony Berg, and the band moved into the studio to complete the album. With the departure of Pete Lalish, guitar parts on the new album were covered by Berg and by Blake Mills. The title track features Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, who had visited the studio during recording and chose to participate after Ziman encouraged them to listen to the track. The album was released in October 2010.
Like It Never Happened
The band's third album, Like It Never Happened, was released in January 2014.
Notes and references
Elizabeth & the Catapult's Official Website
Elizabeth & the Catapult make an appearance on Radio Happy Hour