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Elsa Jayne. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Elsa Jayne brings her new synth pop sound to Ottawa

By Jared Davidson on August 12, 2015

It’s been over seven years since Elsa Jayne’s first, eponymous album. A collection of folk-rock tunes backed by strong songwriting, 2008’s Elsa Jayne was a snapshot of a young songwriter still trying to pin down her sound. Now, in 2015, she’s released a brand new album titled Heart, an EP of five synth pop songs. Seven years is a long time, and it’s clear that Jayne has changed enormously as a musician. Her interests have changed, and her sound has changed with them.

“Basically, I just grew up a bit, and got to know myself a bit better,” said Jayne, who describes how she’s fallen in love with the genre through artists like Grimes and Purity Ring. “I was like, ‘this is my favourite music. I should just make music like that.”

The First Nations artist will be bringing that new sound to Pressed Cafe this Friday for Scary Bear Soundtrack’s album release party. Jayne’s sound is sure to jive well with the lineup, which also includes Ottawa’s Erin Saoirse Adair, formerly of Three Little Birds.

The release party will be the first chance those who pre-ordered Scary Bear Soundtrack’s new album, titled Ovayok Road, on Indie Go-Go to finally lay their hands on it. The single from the new album, “Fault Lines”, made it to the top four of CBC Music’s Searchlight contest for Canada’s Best New Artist.

“I’ve never actually met Gloria [of Scary Bear Soundtrack], I’ve just chatted with her, but I think we’re instant friends,” said Jayne.

To warm up for the show on Friday, Jayne will be playing as the featured artist at Cafe Nostalgica at their Thursday night open mic. And so fans of synth pop will have two opportunities to catch Jayne. Each show will feature a brand new song, “More the Sparrows,” which she hopes to record as the single of an as-yet-unnamed new full-length. (“I guess I have to do that now because I keep saying that,” she jokes.)

She seems eager to continue to develop her sound. This EP, there is little doubt, is only a stepping stone to a more substantial offering. And though it is unclear what that may sound like, Jayne has a few ideas. For example, she wants to explore combining her synth pop with her more traditional guitar-folk sound. She abandoned the guitar for this EP, she said, partly out of exhaustion with the instrument.

“My first album was so guitary,” she said, “I just had to do something different.”

Her First Nations heritage is something that she would like to explore more fully as her career continues. Though it hasn’t played much of a role in her music as of yet, she has recently begun using traditional fancy shawl dancing in her stage performance, as well as in her video for “14 Days,” which you can watch below:


“It definitely comes out in the way I perform,” said Jayne. “I started embracing my culture and connecting it with my music a bit more.”

It will be interesting to see what sorts of permutations her sound travels through in the future. If it’s anything like her leap from 2008 to 2015, it’s sure to be something pretty different, and that’s exciting.

Elsa Jayne plays Cafe Nostalgica on Thursday, August 13 after 8:30pm, and at Scary Bear Soundtrack’s album release on Friday, August 14, 2015 at Pressed Cafe. Tickets are $10, door at 8pm.