Edmonton-born Mallory Chipman has already made her mark on the jazz scene, with two critically acclaimed solo albums showcasing her dynamic voice. But since forming the five-piece Mystics in 2018, she has reconnected with her inner rocker and transformed her sound into a genre-obliterating sonic experience on the band’s debut album.
Aquarian, officially available June 19 on all digital platforms, and co-produced by Chipman and Mystics guitarist/keyboardist Brian Raine, features eight songs that show off the full range of all the assembled talent, including a spoken word piece and an improvised instrumental utilizing a modular synthesizer and electronic effects.
Aside from the latter, Chipman composed much of the album alone at a studio in an isolated town north of Edmonton. For two solid weekends, she crafted melodies on an old upright piano. From there, the lyrics came to fit the phrasing, a technique she credits to her jazz background.
Having grown up in an eclectic musical family, she studied musical theatre and opera as a teen, later earning a Bachelor of Music degree and teaching voice at MacEwan University. Along the way, she has performed in venues across Canada and the U.K., even landing gigs as a backup singer for Heart, and on the Roy Orbison hologram tour.
Now with Aquarian, Mallory Chipman is ready to reveal her true musical identity, one not easily defined, but sure to turn a lot of heads. Hear more here
First off, how have you been doing over the past few months?
As I’m sure they’ve been for most people, the last few months have been a bit of a roller coaster. I’m mega-missing playing music live with my band and soaking up live music myself, but I’ve also been basking in the joys of releasing a record, so there have still been many smiles and celebratory beers.
You've released your new album Aquarian in the midst of this pandemic. Has that given you a different perspective on the messages behind any of the songs?
Interestingly enough, I feel that the general message of Aquarian almost resonates more loudly during this time. It is an album about coming together for a cause, about emotional vulnerability and rawness, and about the importance of critical thought. In my opinion, amidst the pandemic, I have been seeing the relevance of these subjects rise to the surface, so I hope the message of Aquarian is getting through to listeners and sparking inspiration towards action and authentic expression.
Up until now, you've been known as a jazz artist. What prompted you to begin experimenting with new approaches?
I’ve always listened to an eclectic mix of music and enjoyed singing, performing, and writing all styles. While I adore jazz, I felt that in order to truly create music that encompasses all of my greatest musical influences and express my creativity more wholly, I needed to break genre moulds and simply make music that sounded like the inside of my head. Prog rock, psychedelia, improvisation—it’s all in there. I’ve been told it’s “art rock,” and I think that about sums it up.
It's a shame that you haven't been able to play shows with your new band. How have you been adapting to live streaming?
Truly a shame. We’ve been missing making music together very much, but we have to prioritize everyone’s health and wellness so we can get back to jamming as soon as it’s safe to do so. We celebrated the release of our album via an online digital release party wherein we did a full-album listen through and had a band conversation about the record, did giveaways, and took audience questions, and that was super fun! We also performed a few livestream sets in duo/trio settings for some digital series and festivals, and we’re currently working on more video content from a safe distance to share with the world soon enough.
What do you believe the longterm effects of the pandemic will be on the music industry?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. With so many venues shutting down, the prospects of touring being slashed due to travel bans, it’s a bit disheartening. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the power of community and the arts are unparalleled. People are coming together from remote locations to find new ways of collaboration, people are purchasing music and donating to organizations, and I’m sure everyone is turning to the arts and entertainment in some fashion to escape from the difficult realities of isolation. While I think the scene may look drastically different in the future, I’m trying to stay positive, and I’m hoping that the global value and appreciation of arts and community that has been manifested recently can transcend this pandemic.