Jay Malinowski and the Dead Coast

Jay Malinowski and the Dead Coast Website

9:15 PM Lake Stage

Jay Malinowski and the Dead Coast


You plan a vacation, not an adventure. A vacation is something you meticulously detail, leaving nothing to chance and no room for error, usually getting exactly what you expect, exactly what you want. An adventure is something that you let happen, that takes you wherever it will, for however long it lasts, and share it with whomever you encounter. The person you are dictates the journey you prefer. Jay Malinowski is all about embracing the adventure. And now the Canadian artist is almost ready to unveil the results of his latest artistic, emotional and spiritual journey with the release of Martel, the sprawling and enthralling double album recorded with his new project, Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast.

The Martel album is an artistic journey that spans centuries, bridges continents and cultures, and features a remarkable cast of characters. It’s an uncompromising work that finds an artist looking for answers, unafraid and open -­‐ creating from pure inspiration. Malinowski is asking the fundamental the question of whether we tied to our nature, or nurtured into knots. “Am I Jay from Vancouver? Or am I an immense collection of past stories and lives… of past skulls and bones?” Epic in scope, remarkable in in its reach, the album explores these questions through Jay’s actual, and fictionally re-­‐imagined, ancestor Charles Martel. It is an album, accompanied by an illustrated novel, which follows the voyage of Charles Martel and the Martels that followed.

The real Charles Martel was a Huguenot ancestor of the songwriter who saw his mother Charlotte beheaded in Lyon for her religious convictions. “She was hiding in a wine barrel in the cellar. They pulled her out by the hair, cut off her head, and let the body drop back into the barrel. This was really the impetus for who Martel became as a man in my mind,” reflects Malinowski.

Charles narrowly escaped France himself, and escaped to the new world. Finding a common enemy with the British, he fought for General Wolfe at the battle of Louisbourg in1758. The British won and Martel was given land along the coast of Cape Breton in payment. That is where the bones of Charles Martel now rest along side Malinowski’s grandfather in the cemetery of St. James. “Before my grandfather passed he had mapped our family lineage in detail, in old books. That’s where I found Charles’ story, and these patterns of displacement that resonated in me deeply. The Martels after Charles became sailors, privateers and pirates for the most part. It was a dislocation I felt deeply having been continuously travelling for all my life.”

But while Malinowski is raising the soul of a long-­‐gone relative to guide the narrative of Martel, the inspiration behind the project could not be more personal. It is the log of the losses he suffered and the realizations he found over three years at sea. After finishing his first solo record, the equally self-­‐reflective Bright Lights & Bruises (2010), Malinowski found himself adrift, moving nowhere except immediately to the next project. “For any writer or musician, there’s this postpartum depression that starts to develop when you finish a project and then you get a fear that you’re never going to be able to do it again,” Malinowski observes. “You need something ‘right now’ to fill that void.”

The next journey for Malinowski was Light the Horizon (2011), his fourth studio album with Juno-­‐winning reggae pop band Bedouin Soundclash, which then lead to a tour. Without pause, he threw himself into Armistice, a critically acclaimed project with then girlfriend Beatrice Martin (Coeur de Pirate). Exhausted, lost, but unable to stop, “It all started to crumbled on me”. Jay now admits, with disarming honesty, he had completely broken down. He was un-­‐moored and living unhealthily while dealing with the very public end to his relationship with Martin.

“There was a pattern that seemed deeply subconscious, and I looked to my past for answers. I wanted complete change,” he says. This included music. It had been a driving wind for years, but he needed one of gale force. Malinowski explains that a “sense of peace” began to return when he started attending the symphony, seeing in the musicians onstage something he’d lost but desperately wanted back. “I became especially fascinated with the viola, it was such a gorgeous instrument, the strange middle child of the strings. I wanted to find a good viola player who was my age and interested in dissonance.” It was then that he reached out to West Coast-­‐based contemporary string ensemble The End Tree. Jay was seeking to collaborate but uncertain on what exactly.

Malinowski remembers his first meeting at the home of trio Aiden Brant Briscall (violin, vocals), Martin Reisle (cello, vocals) and Elliot Vaughan (viola, vocals) as “a visit to Hogwarts.” He describes an eccentric afternoon spent listening to music while discussing the opera they were writing about Chernobyl, and eating pear sauce they’d made from fruit that had been reclaimed from a dumpster. Jay laughs, “And that was our first introduction. They were beautiful, like no one else I had ever met.”

They were from entirely different musical worlds, even speaking different musical languages, but the relationship bloomed. Jay had landed on the Deadcoast. They began writing together and released a five-­‐song EP Indian Summer (2012), with producer Mark Dolmont. Malinowski says that those recordings started to gel with books from granddad. “Mark Dolmont and I became great friends, he was from Cape Breton and grew up beside a Martel property. The first time we met I said I wanted ocean sounds, and he replied ‘which one? I have recorded over 500 beaches with my field recorder.” These mates would join Malinowski as he charted his course through the grand themes and emotional and existential seas he had been navigating using the imaginary map left him by his family’s most famous explorer.

Together they carried on creating, encountering and enlisting others along the way to add their own voices and experiences including: Zydeco artist Zachary Richard; Hong Kong actress and model Jennifer Tse; and American punk veteran Chuck Ragan -­‐ who Malinowski says had also helped “bring me back to life” earlier in this journey by inviting him on the European leg of Ragan’s all-­‐star, appropriately titled Revival Tour. “We all really encouraged each other to go further than we’d gone before,” Malinowski says of the crew. “We were stretching each other to different places.” Musically, that couldn’t be more true, with the songs that make up Martel – itself, split into two hemispheres denoted by one album being dubbed “Pacific” the other “Atlantic” – docking in such seemingly disparate ports as California pop, New Orleans jazz, Spanish flamenco, Louisiana Cajun, Old World classical, Maritime shanties, ragtime piano, vaudeville and so much more. And making it all come together is the steady hand and certain voice of someone who began the journey lost and uncertain but who fast became a captain, ready and eager to explore where ever in the world the wind blew.

Yes, it has Charles Martel’s name on it, but the journey is entirely and uniquely Jay Malinowski’s. It’s one he didn’t plan on, yet one he’s more than happy he took.


Youtube – Jay Malinowski and the Dead Coast
iTunes – Jay Malinowski and the Dead Coast

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