Operating under the suggestive moniker Faith Healer, Mint Records’ Jessica Jalbert likes the flexibility the name offers. While the Edmontonian is responsible for all the writing and arrangements on her last album, Cosmic Troubles, she conceives of Faith Healer as a band project, allowing her some stylistic freedom and potential for collaboration.
She’ll be bringing those songs to the Interstellar Rodeo stage at the end of the month, which means possibly reconfiguring some of the songs for her solo set–including the drum machine accompaniments she’s been exploring as of late. We talked about Interstellar, her upcoming record, and the Walker Brothers.
VUE WEEKLY: You’re planning to go solo at Interstellar.
JESSICA JALBERT: I am, yeah. I’ve been fiddling around with a drum machine and various mixing options, so if I can really buckle down and feel proficient with it, I’ll do it for Interstellar, but if not, it’s not the end of the world to just play and sing guitar.
VW: Your songs are very textured; there’s a lot going on.
JJ: Well, especially with the newer stuff, the stuff that I’ve put out as Faith Healer. It would not be a problem for me to perform solo if I was just doing Jessica Jalbert songs, but Faith Healer songs were not written to be performed solo. My band is essential to getting the feel of the songs across. It’s taking some imaginative fiddling to figure out how to do these songs solo.
VW: How are plans going for the new record?
JJ: I’m going to be recording in September. I’ll be recording with [Cosmic Troubles producer] Renny Wilson. He lives in Montreal now, but he’ll be back in Edmonton for a while. I really have an awesome band behind me, they’re such good musicians in their own right and I want to take advantage of that, so I think I’ll try to get their input a little more.
VW: You’re working in a record store. Do records come in that are inspirational, and give you new ideas?
JJ: For sure. I remember being a teenager and listening to music so intensely and listening to the same song like 800 times in a row, and really focusing in on it. And now I find, I guess by default of having a more complicated life, I don’t spend that kind of time on music anymore. Every once in a while I’ll think wow, I’m so glad I listened to that, I’m so glad I put that on, and I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. It’s kind of like manufacturing what it was like when I was 15.
VW: Do you remember one of those songs from your teenage years?
JJ: Well, over the last few years, I got into the Walker Brothers and specifically the song “The Electrician.” I’ll put it on and think, this is the perfect song. A string section, amazing vocal section, weird harmonies, crazy lyrics, and it has this amazing climax; I could never hope to write like this, but it’s a very well-formed song.