After roughly six years since releasing Born 4, Jakalope have reinvented themselves as a band, with front woman Chrystal Leigh singing the enchantingly dark melodies of the new album, Things That Go Jump in the Night.
Since burgeoning onto the Vancouver music scene in 2004, the brainchild of mega producer Dave Ogilvie, have always demonstrated a calculated balance between industrial rock and pop music. But now listeners can expect a darker, raw sound with an added Giorgio Moroder-inspired electronic flare.
“This is a very honest thing that we are creating,” Leigh says. “We hope that people are more into the industrial vibe but like pop music people are going to pick it up.”
Like the previous two albums put out by the band, with then Katie B as vocalist, the new record incorporates Jakalope’s known feel-good vibe and dance quality beats with songs like “Witness,” but delivers a less programmed sound with the rest of the album with Ogilvie stating before that he let the sound “flow” this time round.
The shift in vision took some time to produce, with the band releasing singles like “Delicious” and a cover of a Julee Cruise song “Falling” back in 2009, to then release another single “Cupcake” through their YouTube account later that year. In 2010, Jakalope found a new label, Vancouver’s own 604 Records, and began putting together the album Things That Go Jump In The Night, with the record fully made public in October.
“We came to the realization that it was going to take a while, because I was so different from what Katie was doing,” Leigh says. “In a kind of sense it was like starting a new band.”
The new band would feature the singer’s powerhouse vocals, along with her song-writing and piano-playing chops. A musician for close to ten years, Leigh fronted The Perfect Strangers and her own solo attempt The Chrystal Leigh Band before joining Jakalope.
Yet, Leigh admits she thought her role of front woman for Jakalope was destined. She describes the first time she heard the band: “It was at A&B sound in downtown Vancouver; it’s not even there anymore. [Jakelope] was on the listening station and I was like ‘holy shit, look at this,'” Leigh says laughing. “I totally remember looking at the CD and being like so jealous and wishing that I was the singer of a band like this, and then five years later I got a call saying Jakalope is looking for a singer.”
With her, Leigh brought fearless confidence and strong individuality, characteristics that speak to how the band has since strayed from the traditional pop song formula of a hooky chorus and catchy melodies.
Instead, Ogilvie has described the album as a departure from the previous two, It Dreams and Born 4. This time, the band’s eerie nightmare style is highlighted through Leigh’s haunting voice, and piano-playing abilities. The heavy chords add depth, making the sound more authentic and gritty. In addition to his producing skills, Ogilvie also dons the hats of keyboard and guitar player along with supplying vocals.
But even Leigh knows that while the band’s sound may entice and attract new willing fans, others may be left with a sort of confused interest.
“With the pop industrial thing, a lot of people are like it’s good but it’s weird and I don’t want to like anything that’s weird,” Leigh admits. “But we’re like you know what, these songs are really good and this band has some crazy talent, it doesn’t get much more honest than this.”
And it’s that theme of brazen courage that sets the tone for the band’s new music video for the song “Magnolia.” Still feeling the fatigue of the long shoot that took place a couple days prior to our interview, Leigh remained enthusiastic not only with what viewers will see but with the message they will be able to take away from the video.
Being hunted down by mobs of people holding pitch forks and torches back in the 18th century period, Leigh states that the scene was reminiscent of the Salem witch trial stories, when people were persecuted because they were different. It’s a feeling that Leigh says she and her band relate to in their efforts to maintain their integrity as artists while connecting with listeners.
“We’re different and we’re fine with that,” Leigh says. “We’re not going to run and hide and leave change.”
To listen to Jakalope check out http://www.myspace.com/jakalope or go to the iTunes Store to buy their albums.