back to top

11 Surprising One-Man Bands

They don't need nobody. And neither do you. These musicians did it all themselves, but thanks to IBM Cloud, you'll have a helping hand. You can now create and share original music on the go in Zya, a mobile music creation game. Mash-ups, remixes, or totally new material — it’s all at your fingertips

Posted on

1. Owen Pallett

Pallett, who performed under the alias>Final Fantasy until 2010, produces stunning live performances by playing the violin into a loop pedal. He has been associated with acts like Arcade Fire, Beirut, and The Mountain Goats, and this year he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the film Her.
Karl Walter / Via gettyimages.com

Pallett, who performed under the alias>Final Fantasy until 2010, produces stunning live performances by playing the violin into a loop pedal. He has been associated with acts like Arcade Fire, Beirut, and The Mountain Goats, and this year he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the film Her.

View this video on YouTube

2. Kimbra

New Zealand-born songstress Kimbra incorporates electropop, R&B, classic jazz, and soul into her music, which focuses heavily on loop-based vocal arrangements and synthesizer samples.
Etienne Oliveau / Via gettyimages.com

New Zealand-born songstress Kimbra incorporates electropop, R&B, classic jazz, and soul into her music, which focuses heavily on loop-based vocal arrangements and synthesizer samples.

View this video on YouTube

3. Kaki King

Once hailed by Rolling Stone as "a genre unto herself," Kaki King is a pioneer. She uses the guitar to provide percussive beats and uses sound layering and looping to create a unique kind of music that's kept fans eager for over a decade.
Frank Hoensch / Getty Images

Once hailed by Rolling Stone as "a genre unto herself," Kaki King is a pioneer. She uses the guitar to provide percussive beats and uses sound layering and looping to create a unique kind of music that's kept fans eager for over a decade.

View this video on YouTube

4. Panda Bear

Panda Bear is the solo project of Noah Lennox, member of psychedelic group Animal Collective. He performs solo shows onstage with a workstation synthesizer and samplers.
Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

Panda Bear is the solo project of Noah Lennox, member of psychedelic group Animal Collective. He performs solo shows onstage with a workstation synthesizer and samplers.

View this video on YouTube

5. Zoë Keating

A cello and a foot-controlled laptop are all Keating needs to create her one-woman orchestra. Zoë uses technology to sample her cello onstage, creating layer upon layer of intricate music. She's also label-less and releases all her music online, which is awesome!
Stephen Lovekin / Via gettyimages.com

A cello and a foot-controlled laptop are all Keating needs to create her one-woman orchestra. Zoë uses technology to sample her cello onstage, creating layer upon layer of intricate music. She's also label-less and releases all her music online, which is awesome!

View this video on YouTube

6. Gotye

Though he now fronts large bands, Australian Wally De Backer built his act Gotye on electronic music, found sounds, and sampling. His earlier shows consisted of only him, a laptop, and various percussion and sound stations.
Mark Metcalfe / Via gettyimages.com

Though he now fronts large bands, Australian Wally De Backer built his act Gotye on electronic music, found sounds, and sampling. His earlier shows consisted of only him, a laptop, and various percussion and sound stations.

View this video on YouTube

7. Andrew Bird

A classically trained violinist and professional whistler, Bird "is known for singing and whistling while simultaneously switching between violin, guitar, and glockenspiel over the course of a single song." Between this, the numerous genres he covers, and his looping and layering techniques, Bird epitomizes the one-man orchestra.
Mark Metcalfe / Via gettyimages.com

A classically trained violinist and professional whistler, Bird "is known for singing and whistling while simultaneously switching between violin, guitar, and glockenspiel over the course of a single song." Between this, the numerous genres he covers, and his looping and layering techniques, Bird epitomizes the one-man orchestra.

View this video on YouTube

8. K.T. Tunstall

Tunstall burst onto the international music scene in 2005 with her debut album Eye to the Telescope. Following that, she became known for her live shows and her master skills with the loop pedal (which she nicknamed "Wee Bastard").
Michael Buckner / Via gettyimages.com

Tunstall burst onto the international music scene in 2005 with her debut album Eye to the Telescope. Following that, she became known for her live shows and her master skills with the loop pedal (which she nicknamed "Wee Bastard").

View this video on YouTube

9. Reggie Watts

The perfect intersection between musician and comedian, Watts improvises all his musical sets on the spot with only a looping machine and his voice.
Jemal Countess / Via gettyimages.com

The perfect intersection between musician and comedian, Watts improvises all his musical sets on the spot with only a looping machine and his voice.

View this video on YouTube

10. Imogen Heap

Described as a "digital diva," Imogen Heap has made a 15-year career from combining live multi-instrumental improvisations with classical training. Her dynamic sounds have been sampled by numerous producers and rappers (including Jason Derulo).
Noel Vasquez / Via gettyimages.com

Described as a "digital diva," Imogen Heap has made a 15-year career from combining live multi-instrumental improvisations with classical training. Her dynamic sounds have been sampled by numerous producers and rappers (including Jason Derulo).

View this video on YouTube

11. Tom Thum

Beatboxer Tom Thum can create an entire big band's worth of instruments using only his mouth. The Australian virtuoso, who recently performed a TED Talk, includes the entire Michael Jackson back catalog in his repertoire, as well as the didgeridoo and countless other instruments.
Diana Mayfield / Getty Images

Beatboxer Tom Thum can create an entire big band's worth of instruments using only his mouth. The Australian virtuoso, who recently performed a TED Talk, includes the entire Michael Jackson back catalog in his repertoire, as well as the didgeridoo and countless other instruments.

View this video on YouTube

Don't miss a beat; create and share music on the go with Zya, now on IBM Cloud.

View this video on YouTube