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Faith Healer

Apr 07/2015
INTERVIEW Lynda Vang PHOTOGRAPHY Pedersen STYLING Jessica Clark HAIR + MUA Elizabeth Bernardin


Faith Healer’s recent release, Cosmic Troubles, orbits a dark galaxy of ‘60s psychedelic indie-pop that never travels too far from the light. From playing in The Tee-Tahs to Punk Explosion, Faith Healer – a.k.a. Jessica Jalbert – steps out with sun-kissed harmonies and echoing fuzz on her sophomore solo effort. Georgie caught up with her to talk about becoming Faith Healer, the spirit of collaboration, and why boxing is not in her future.

G—Your second album, Cosmic Troubles (Mint Records), was released under the name Faith Healer, while your first album, Brother Loyola (2011) was released under your actual name. Why did you adopt an alias for the second album?

Jessica Jalbert—I was running into some challenges when I was using my own name. There are a lot of preconceived ideas about what singer/songwriters performing under their own name might sound like and I didn’t want to feel restricted to that. It’s not just going to be me sitting on a stage with an acoustic guitar, quietly whispering into the microphone. This is a rock band.

G—By taking on this new name, have you developed a stage persona as Faith Healer?

When I started writing and performing music, I was alone. I wasn’t writing large arrangements; I was writing things that I could play by myself on stage. Slowly, over the years, I assembled a band and started writing for a band rather than just writing for myself. This album is me becoming Faith Healer instead of Jessica Jalbert, the solo artist.

JJ—I don’t have a fake persona or anything like that when I’m up on stage. The idea to represent myself as a band and not as a person is indicative of how my music has progressed. When I started writing and performing music, I was alone. I wasn’t writing large arrangements; I was writing things that I could play by myself on stage. Slowly, over the years, I assembled a band and started writing for a band rather than just writing for myself. This album is me becoming Faith Healer instead of Jessica Jalbert, the solo artist.

G—Can you tell me more about the cover of Cosmic Troubles?

JJ—Sure, it’s just a really ugly picture of my teeth.

G—That’s an interesting juxtaposition with your music. Why did you decide to go with that for the album cover?

JJ—It manifests from the idea of having a lot of people watch me while I perform. The thought of that kind of stresses me out, so I wanted to lighten the pressure by not having everything be so focused on me. I’ve always been really insecure about my teeth so I thought I would put them out there for the whole world to see, and then that way it would just be a funny joke.

G—Renny Wilson collaborated with you on Cosmic Troubles, as well as on your first album. Why do the two of you work so well together?

JJ—We’ve been friends for a long time and we have operated in the same kind of circles. We both appreciate each other musically, so I think it works well because we don’t have clashing personalities. I would like to have him involved in any musical project I’m working on because I trust his instincts and he’s just a good guy to work with.

G—You have collaborated with so many local artists. What do you think it is about the Edmonton music scene, or Edmonton, that nurtures collaboration?

JJ—I wonder if it’s the kind of place we are – geographically, and in terms of world city importance. There’s not a lot of bravado in the arts scene in Alberta. It’s not like Montreal, where there’s a reputation of being an artistic central hub in the country. It’s a weird kind of humility. Edmonton doesn’t have a “we’re too big for our britches” kind of mentality, so there’s going to be a lot of collaboration because there’s not a lot of competition. For me, having a lot of people support one another and encourage each other just engenders a lot more positive creation.

G—Last question: if you were a boxer, what would your entrance music be?

JJ—It would be a major bummer song like “Heroin” by The Velvet Underground.

I’m not very aggressive, so I think I would be the worst boxer of all time. I can’t imagine what my entrance would be like. I would probably slink into the ring.


Cosmic Troubles available on Mint Records.

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