By Kaleem Khan
CALGARY — Calgary’s Chris Zajko is perhaps best known as a local post-punk visionary, fronting the legendary Sharp Ends and, more recently, The Soft Option. While previously contributing mostly vocals, Zajko’s latest contribution is a change in direction and input from its predecessors. Collaborating closely with local mainstays Cian Haley (Catholic Girls) on lead synth and Jeebs Nabil (Memo/Violence) on guitar, the neon pink ’80s electronic project fronts Zajko once again with a upbeat dance vibe that is simultaneously menacing.
“I had more ideas that were in a different vain: more electronic based,” says Zajko. “That’s where the Melted Mirror thing came from. I was doing solo demos on my computer and I sent the demos to Cian because he was curious and wanted to get involved. [Adding Jeebs] was an intuitive decision. We both felt the sound needed something more. Jeebs jammed with us and we really loved what he came up with.”
As a young band, Melted Mirror have released four tracks online, with a six-track EP to be released in the fall. Delay-drenched guitars compliment atmospheric vintage synths, with Zajko’s vocals placing Ian Curtis in the mid-80s. The album artwork reflects the tone of the music with dark imagery overlaid with bright overtones.
“What I really want to be doing is getting people to dance, but I want to get people dancing to ominous music. When people think of dance music, they’re thinking of uplifting, happy music. What excites me is the juxtaposition of a feel good dance beat or a beat that gets your body moving, with an ominous mood.”
The lyrical content of Melted Mirror’s tracks are heavily obscured, adding to the project’s shadowy atmosphere. In line with many dance-centric bands, the lyrical content is not the focus, but an afterthought. Zajko take after the likes of popular dance artists, favouring melodies and cadence over words.
“For me, what I’m really interested in vocally are phrasing and the vocal melody. Lyrics are more like setting a tone or I’m looking for lines that are evocative of a mood, rather than a subject. I’d like to use words in a painterly sense,” he says.
Melted Mirror’s dance-inspired synths combined with dark post-punk influences set the groundwork for a project that is retro in tone, while carrying a progressive infusion of genres.
“There are some post-punk references. My musical inspiration was post-punk, but specifically for something like Melted Mirror, I was into things like the Drive soundtrack. In the last year, I was searching for sounds and I rediscovered retro, ‘80s pop. I tried to reappraise some of those sounds to use them in a different context,” he explains.
During their time in the spotlight, many compared Zajko’s Sharp Ends to Joy Division, channeling the late-70s post-punk era. Time now moves forward as Melted Mirror channels the flashy mid-80s while still maintaining the grittiness of the past.
You can catch Melted Mirror at the National Music Centre on August 7th and at Good Luck Bar on August 28th.AB, Alberta, Good Luck Bar, Melted Mirror, National Music Centre