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.
Duckwrth cannot be pinned down. The 28-year-old rapper, born Jared Lee in South Central, landed like a splash of mixed paints with his debut full-length I’m Uugly in fall 2016. Its 10 elastic tracks stretch across hip hop, chill wave, funk, and punk, all shrouded in a soft-focused haze. He aptly calls this impressionistic concoction “psych rap.” Early last November, Duckwrth released An Xtra Uugly Mixtape. Whereas I’m Uugly exalted the beauty that lives within the harshness and griminess of everyday life – from the physical to the political to the socioeconomic – An Xtra Uugly Mixtape encourages being unapologetically you. It is, as Duckwrth writes on his Soundcloud page, “the anthem for your rebellion.” Fittingly, the tape is higher in energy; the guitar sounds are cranked. An Xtra Uugly Mixtape is his attempt to put hip hop and rock on equal footing within the same piece of music. An Xtra Ugly Mixtape is also a gradual step towards fulfilling his stadium rock ambitions. Duckwrth had one of his most formative musical experiences at a stadium show. “I used to do the whole protest [thing] and be more politically driven,” he says. “But then there was a time when
Over the past four years, Halifax pop artist Ria Mae has accomplished dreams she has openly spoken about: being produced by fellow Nova Scotia success story Classified and touring with Tegan and Sara and Coleman Hell. Since creating her self-released demo of “Clothes Off” in 2013, she has signed with Sony Music and Nettwerk Management. The former has helped develop the careers of Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Coldplay, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and many more. The finished version of the song – her major label debut – earned Mae her first Juno nomination, for “Single of the Year” in 2016, which put her in direct competition against Drake, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber. From Mae’s new home in Toronto, only two days removed from a cross-Canada tour with Scott Helman, she spoke with Georgie about her sudden rise, working with Classified, stepping up as a voice for LGBTQ groups, and more. G—As you’ve discovered, you can make a lot of unexpected connections in a small town. But that can be a good thing because working with people who differ from you in their approach forces you to create from new perspectives. Do you ever have reservations about working with people who
Three years after the release of his first EP, Augusta, Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman has unleashed his debut full-length LP, Hôtel de Ville, a collection of 12 alt-pop coming-of-age tracks. The 22-year-old Toronto native who successfully broke into the music industry in his mid-teens earned himself two Juno Award nominations, certified gold status for his hit, Bungalow, and began quickly fielding comparisons to the likes of Vance Joy and Jeff Buckley. With a new level of acclaim awaiting him, Helman has recently finished his cross-Canada Scott vs. Ria tour with fellow Juno nominee Ria Mae. We thought it would be the right time to ask him about his momentous musical journey. G—You got your first guitar when you were ten. Was this what led you to become a musician? Scott Helman—I used to mess around on my friend’s guitar, and really wanted to learn how to play. So, I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing it, and knowing instantly what it was because of its shape. I never put it down after that. G—What kind of music did you listen to growing up? SH—My parents are British immigrants, so