Jay Malinowski has grown from his days as a young singer-songwriter in the Canadian band, Bedouin Soundclash. Even if he won’t completely admit it.
“I don’t think I’ve changed much,” said Malinowski. “I think I’m less mature than when I was 19.”
Malinowski, who continues to make music with his most recent project under the name Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast, has been doing some self-reflection while Bedouin Soundclash has been on hiatus.The time away has allowed him to fabricate an audio coming-of-age story, filled with adventure and tales with his ancestor, Charles Martel, as the protagonist.
The double-disc album entitled Martel, is essentially a musical travel log of his voyages during the 1800s.
“After 10 years of touring [with Bedouin Soundclash], I was asking the questions of life like ‘who am I’ and ‘what do I become?” he said, “I loved the idea of a sailor, that you’re always moving, because the choices I made were very similar. My lifestyle was more or less the same.”
While the goal of the record was to honour his past, Malinowski sees a bit of himself on the new album.
“I wanted to do a journey of this person named Martel,” he said. “It’s based on the history, it’s based on me, it’s based on my grandfather’s notes, going around the world from Pacific to Atlantic, over 18 songs.”
Martel has received its fair share of buzz on CBC Radio’s website, being previewed as one of the 10 Canadian albums to look forward to in February, alongside other artists like Sam Roberts, Mas Ysa and Solids.
Malinowski even has a website for the album, WhoIsMartel.com, an interactive site that allows fans to look at the track list for the album, gaze at Martel’s travel log, and use an interactive map that tracks his journey at sea.
“Even with Bedouin [Soundclash], it’s always been about hailing things that came before you.”
According to Malinowski, Charles Martel traveled from France to Halifax in 1757. After the country outlawed Protestantism, many fled to other European countries and to North America. Martel fought alongside British soldiers when they attempted to capture the Louisbourg Fortress, which belonged to the French. In return for his service, the British gave him land, where he settled and established a family.
Malinowski recalls hearing these stories from his grandfather, who fed him countless tales of his ancestors and his family lineage. In addition, Malinowski did some personal research around Cape Breton with other relatives, where he uncovered old family heirlooms.
Martel features the single, Patience Phipps, a name Malinowski fell in love with once he read it amongst his grandfather’s notes. The song itself is about Martel promising his hand in marriage to Phipps, once he has returned from his travels.
Teaming-up with Vancouver string trio, the End Tree, Martel brings together folk, European and Caribbean influences, including calypso music. One song in particular, “Carnival Celebration”, (a personal favourite of his), was recorded in Trinidad. The song was originally recorded in the 1950s by Small Island Pride. The song speaks of Americans trying to leave Trinidad, and also the West Indian Federation, where a group of Caribbean countries joined together to escape British control.
“We did this kind of Eastern European, gypsy rumba [on the track],” Malinowski said. “It was really fun to record.”
Malinowski has enjoyed his time recording and preparing for Martel, and recording as a solo artist in general. The album allowed Malinowski to not only find out about his past, but allowed him to discover himself as an artist. However, he hasn’t closed the door on reuniting with bandmate Eon Sinclair and returning to Bedouin Soundclash.
“Everything’s a journey for us and we’re never going to fake it,” Malinowski said. “As long as Eon and I are friends, we’re going to make a record.”
Martel debuts on Feb.11. Jay Malinowski & the Deadcoast will be in Montreal performing on April 5.