toronto music neighbourhood

A Toronto neighbourhood just put out their own music album

Music and community are inextricably linked, and that’s especially true here in Toronto. One Toronto indie band, Mamals, has taken that philosophy to heart with a backing band of neighbours.

Husband and wife James and Mary Boyd started out writing songs together, and before they knew it they had a self-titled debut EP on their hands with arrangements involving a 20-person choir, trumpet, strings and drums masterminded by Clay Place Jones (Huddle).

Most of these neighbourhood musicians, including James and Mary, are residents of what’s known as “The Pocket” in the eastern part of Toronto, extending south of the Danforth between Jones and Greenwood down to Gerrard. The majority of the band do not support themselves making music.

“I, for one, have never lived anywhere like it,” says James Boyd. “Since moving in 10 years, ago I am constantly surprised at the kindness and generosity of our neighbours. There are also a lot of creatively-minded people living in the neighbourhood.”

It was started by James, who primarily writes the music, Mary, who writes the lyrics, and Jones who started out by holding monthly neighbourhood get-togethers to sing cover songs. Not longer after that, the idea snowballed for the trio into recording original music. 

Recorded at Blue Rodeo’s studio, The Woodshed, with engineer Tim Vesely (of Rheostatics) and mixed and mastered by Ian Bodzasi (who has worked with Nelly Furtado, Katy Perry, Sam Roberts), the EP is being released on January 25, 2019. 

Mamals could be seen as following in the footsteps of Broken Social Scene, a sort of supergroup that formed during the local music scene’s “Torontopia” phase, and member Charles Spearin with his “Happiness Project.”

James Boyd also cites Choir! Choir! Choir! as an influence. Either way, it’s far from the only example of the sounds of a Toronto neighbourhood.

Hopefully you’ll be able to see the neighbours perform their music live at an unspecified future date, but the band also plans to record a whole new album over the course of the next year, with more involvement on the writing side from an increased number of members.

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