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Before you ask, Jackie is not a rock band. Or a pop band. Or one of those alt-indie darlings that you just know has been packaged for FROSH week. If you must put them in a box, it’s best you just call Jackie a black sheep.
Take, for example, the band’s debut single, New at Drugs, a propulsive slice of guitar pop that shimmers and warbles like a synth-led banger. As the name suggests, that intersectionality may have something to do with its creation: buzzing on psychedelics and more than a little red wine, the group -- singer/songwriter Jackie Mohr, guitarist Marc Girardin and drummer Max Trefler -- caught the energetic vibe of producer Hawksley Workman, working quirky riffs that shouldn’t work but do under big, shinny melodies. “Like trying to play a D chord weirder than a D chord,” Mohr explains. “I honestly don’t remember it all so clearly, but I remember lyrics pouring out of me so fast.”
The rest of the songs that comprise the band’s upcoming EP flowed shortly after, and likewise contain a funky sense of wonderment and a nod to pop legends. It’s no wonder Mohr counts Chrissie Hynde and Michael Jackson as her favourite singers.
Jackie rises from the ashes of The Mohrs (you may have seen them share stages with the likes of Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction and The Glorious Sons). Originally from Winnipeg, Mohr and Girardin have been playing together since they were teenagers. Moving to Toronto in 2012, the pair eventually hooked up with Trefler and released two rock albums on Light Organ before disbanding. “We changed our sound, replacing bass with analog synth, and went back to having just us three as the core of the project,” Mohr explains. “After a few year hiatus we’ve come back as ‘Jackie’. Stronger, and more assured than ever.”
That transformation was partially fuelled by Mohr’s experiences as one of the few females in a male-dominated landscape. “I’ve never had a problem holding my own in this industry, or with men, but it really does make you question why there’s so little female presence,” she points out.
“When I was promoting my first single my radio team told my management it was going to be very difficult getting “a female on rock radio”. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a comment more. I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now,” Mohr continues. “I think it’s time for a new narrative. This is especially important in the LGBTQ community. Heteronormative relationships are only a small part of what’s out there, and how people love one another. Other communities need to be represented as well. I remember on my debut album I worried about saying ‘her’ or ‘she‘ as a lyric bc people would class me as a ‘gay artist’. This sort of thing is important for sure, and I am a gay woman, but it’s not all I am, and I never wanted that to be the focal point of my/our music, or my musical career. The band, our music, and myself are much more than that. Music is for everyone.”
That open and ferocious approach to music can be heard throughout Jackie’s music.
“We write songs for the everyday radio listener, and the guitar nerd,” Mohr, who’s prized possession is a 1962 ‘Silverstone 1423’ aka Jupiter aka ‘Monicka Del Toro,’ explains. “Maybe cool music and being undefined will be the ‘it’ thing again someday.”