Image courtesy of Jenny Mitchell.
Is Jenny Mitchell trying to out-adorable herself? The Barmitzvah Brothers member personally packaged her first Jenny Omnichord solo album, Cities of Gifts and Ghosts, in hand-glued cases made from specialty wood. For her follow-up, Charlotte or Otis: Duets for Children, Their Parents and Other People Too, she convinced a bunch of her favourite artists to create pieces based on different songs, putting together a twenty-page children’s booklet. And for her forthcoming release, All Our Little Bones, she’s asking for help to fulfill her most melt-your-freaking-heart project yet: distributing the vinyl in a three-fold record case-cum-board game that she designed herself.
A cross-country dash along Canada’s major roadways, the game was inspired by Mitchell’s marathon coast-to-coast touring while writing the album and pregnant with her son Otis. Though based in Ontario, she was looking for a way to (literally) show how the patchwork of Canada is reflected in her songs: “While I was pregnant I went all the way from St. John’s to Dawson City. All these towns putting up a pregnant rocker, they were so integral to that time. And listening to the music, you might not know how big a part Canada played. But each song represents a different place. I thought if the songs to don’t read Canada, maybe the art can. The game fills the ‘ode to Canada’ need.”
Mitchell describes the songs on the album as her most autobiographical to date, and the game is similarly bound with her own life. Though the concept and rules are based on an old board game she found through her father, who owns an antique store in Guelph, she incorporated elements from her own experiences throughout the journey. You can stop your game piece in Port Greville, Nova Scotia, home to Mitchell’s friends Dave and Colleen. Or beat your opponent to Walkerton, where Mitchell first saw Randy Bachman—an experience described on the song “Randy B. Found Me.” But don’t try to stop for gas in Kelowna—it got cut from the game due to another friend’s cancelled gig.
Though she recently passed her goal of $4100, Mitchell is still offering up everything from a download code to a haircut for last-minute donations to help realize her complete vision for the release. “As a person who likes to call myself an artist, I’ve never had an outlet to be successful making art. Music is an accessible vessel people are used to. But I love the idea that you’d be playing the game while you listen to the album.”
And where does Toronto figure in this cozy afternoon scene? Our town’s dot is colour-coded yellow, representing bad luck. “I was coming back from New York and got stuck in Milton. We were racing home for a show in rush-hour traffic and I was writing lyrics in the car.”