imagesWe were asked last week by the CBC to record a song for Leonard Cohen’s 80th Birthday. We were honoured. We took some time out while recording in my spot. Here is our cover of ‘Bird On A Wire.’ I believe we have all been strung up and hanging there at some point.


Happy Birthday Leonard, thanks for finding all of life’s cracks and letting the light shine through…


Dear Friends,

I’ve been up on the island with Oscar finishing the final chapters of “Skulls & Bones”. As a result it’s been a while since I’ve given any updates; call it the summer doldrums.

The journey of Martel is almost completed. The third chapter of Skulls & Bones is now up online for sale, “A Stradivarius and The Chihuahua de Gucci”. In this installment Martel has arrived in the port of Le Havre on the northern Coast of France. This will be the last chapter released online until the book is made available in autumn.

In an interview a few days ago I was asked; who exactly is Martel?

This late in the process it takes time to think. He is a collection of stories; some pieces of history on the east coast, some pieces from my own life, and pieces of the lives around me. It’s all a foggy recollection in the end. This third chapter comes directly from my own life, a moment in my early career as a painter. I have changed all the names, but the event remains the same; the night the chihuahua almost pissed on a priceless violin. It goes down in infamy amongst my friends as one of the strangest lessons in money vs. value.

When I was 24 I signed on to be represented by a gallery in Toronto and was given my first solo exhibition that year. During that time we were also touring heavily in Bedouin. In the month leading up to my show we were joined on tour by a violin player from a well-known electronic group from Paris. He had come to Canada and wanted to “slum” it with us. He had a love for Bad Brains and reggae which was light years away from the group in which he played in France. He came from a family of artists. His mother was in the ballet and both his father and grandfather played in the symphony. His grandfather had bought him a priceless stradivarius 40 years before he was even born. He was destined to play and he was phenomenal player. While he was with us on tour he never let the priceless violin out of his sight. We were on a campus pub tour at the time, and it was a bit strange to see him play with us while people sat and ate chicken wings and drank Labatt Blue during our set, but he seemed to find the whole thing exotic, like some tourist. He acquired a strange love for harvey’s hamburgers on the road. “The best, this Harvey’s, the best” He would say and give us a thumbs up as he took his first voracious bites.

At the end of our week-long tour i had my first exhibition of paintings at the gallery. I had been working towards the show for almost six months and i thought it would be a great idea to have our friend play during the viewing. I felt it would really give a sense of ‘class’ to the occasion. As the night started our musician behaved. But he then slowly started turning up his violin. He then began delaying and distorting it through a series of effect pedals until it was a painful assault on the patrons. My gallery dealer asked him to turn down the volume. He stated this was not possible. “This is my art, no distortion, no violin.” he replied. “I would rather stop than sacrifice this sound.”

Violin Player at Gallery

So he was asked to stop.

I think it surprised him that the decision for my dealer was this easy, given how highly regarded his ‘art.’ But, it was quickly forgotten when he realized it would give him more time to drink complimentary wine.

By the end of the show he was incoherent. We assumed this was just part of his character. It was hard to understand his english at the best of times. Afterwards, we all headed to some strange lounge where there was an after party. Our friend disappeared into the back and we more or less forgot about him. After 40 minutes we heard the bartender yelling something and dragging our friend out of the washroom at the other end of the bar.

“this place is filled with piss and shit” our friend was able to groan.

“well that’s great, you’re leaving!” the bartender yelled at him and then turned to me, “this guy is a complete asshole.”

Since it was clear we were no longer welcome at the bar, my gallery dealer suggested all of us go to her loft. it seemed like a good idea, in hindsight however it may have been best to take our friend home.

By midnight we were enroute to her loft and our violin player was safely with us in a cab. When we arrived at the loft we were nearly assaulted by a little chihuahua dog. It was yapping at our ankles. Our dealer had to pacify it with some organic dog treat. This was her small dog which she treated like a small spoiled baby. The dog had a hideous stylized mohawk but stranger than his haircut were his clothes. The little chihuahua was dressed in head to paw gucci clothing, made especially for dogs.


It was a hideous sight. As we sat in the room into the evening I watched the dog prance around the room. I almost began to feel sorry it, he had no control over his choice of clothes which made him look like the totem spirit animal of first world problems. I maintain though, I almost began to feel sorry for him because immediately after this thought the incident happened.

our violin player decided to make his way to the washroom and for the first time i saw him leave behind his priceless Stradivarius by the couch. He stumbled across the room and locked himself in the washroom. I figured like last time, we wouldn’t see him for another 40 minutes.

Right then I noticed a small black furry object race past my legs. Then from behind me i heard a low moan that swelled into a full on yell from my friend sitting beside me. “The violin!” he yelled. “the fucking violin!” I looked over at where the violin had been left and saw the chihuahua had one leg lifted and was pissing on the case. My friend jumped across the couch. WIth one impressive swift kick he booted the dog clean across the room. As the dog sailed at least six feet into the air it seemed like the scene turned to slow motion. My gallery dealer walked into the room just to see her chihuahua fly past her face and land in the corner of the room. She began to shriek. But there was no time to calm her down. “Get some towels!” I shouted. Another friend ran to the kitchen and grabbed a roll of paper towels and began frantically cleaning off the case. Everyone was screaming. The whole time we could hear our friend in the washroom humming some strange songs and falling into the walls. He was blissfully unaware of the trauma in the other room.

As the dog landed he let out a little squeak but seemed to be fine. My gallery dealer ran over to him and cradled him in her arms. She then turned her venom to us.

“my baby, my baby! how dare you kick my dog!!” get out get out!!” she was clearly unaware of the value of her dog’s chosen urinal. I ran over to the violin and clutched it in my arms. I then turned to her.

“I don’t give a fuck how much gucci you put on that thing, it is never going to match the value of what it has just so unceremoniously pissed on!” I yelled. At that moment our friend fell out of the washroom. The room fell silent and we all looked over and stared at him; the gallery dealer clutching her dog, my friend with a roll of paper towels, and myself clutching the violin case.

“Is everyone okay?” he slurred.

“Yeah I think it’s time we go now, man.” I said.

We ushered him to the door and I handed him his violin. It wasn’t a great departure.

all said, i don’t think my first opening had been a great success in most ways. as i lay in bed that night I remember thinking “kicking your art dealers dog isn’t the greatest way to kick-off a successful career in art.”

i didn’t hear from the gallery for a week.

In the end nothing was damaged and the violin left the country unscathed. The chihuahua made a successful recovery although to this day he still remains a victim to fashion. The next morning over breakfast we wondered why the hell the chihuahua had pissed all over the violin. Of all things, why that? Then we realized that our friend had yelled about the bar being “filled with piss and shit.” We pieced together that our friend must have literally fallen down in the washroom and in doing so acquired a scent that all dogs take as a sign of a territorial pissing. When our friend had left for the washroom the dog immediately saw it as his opportunity to reclaim ground. This was, after all, his loft. You don’t mess with a dog dressed in gucci. After all, his dignity is gone. He’s got nothing left to lose. Except piss.

I thought of these two as being symbols of difference; a man who has talent and skill and his one possession is a priceless hand-crafted violin which has taken hundreds of years to perfect and lifetime to learn how to play, and a dog who has been dressed in gucci clothes. Anyone could buy the clothes, and i think the whole psychology of putting them on a dog speaks volumes to it’s true worth. Some things in life have true value, and some things are expensive yet worthless. (the clothes not the dog, but for the owner…). Well, I wanted to tell this story as a lesson to Kit from Martel. I thought a perfect place to set this story would be the contrast between 1950’s Le Havre and Paris.
So here is a link to “The Stradivarius & The Chihuahua de Gucci” Letter #3…

The doldrums come to an end, enjoy the humidity while you can.







I’m really honoured to announce that HarperCollins will be releasing the ‘Martel’ companion novel “Skulls & Bones”!

I started writing these stories on the side of the road while walking across Spain last summer, so from those pretty inauspicious beginnings I’m more than grateful to have the good company of the people at HarperCollins. See you all on tour. Onwards. Here is the press release:

Chapter 1

HARPERCOLLINS CANADA (March 14, 2014) The stories of our lives repeat like the tides, our past lives, our ancestors…All of our ghosts will come back in time.Musician/author Jay Malinowski explores the ghosts of his past in this serial e-book, Skulls & Bones (HarperCollinsCanada, first chapter on-sale March

18, 2014). Loosely based on Malinowski’s family’s historical roots in Europe and on the east coast of Canada, Skulls & Bones, is the companion to concept album Martel, released by Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast. Comprised of eighteen songs and written in the spirit of ancestor, and seafaring soul searcher Martel.

Skulls & Bones begins in the port Finisterre, Spain, on La Costa da Morte The Dead Coast, which is exposed directly to the Atlantic Ocean and notorious for destroying ships that pass through. In this small town, untouched by time, a server named Ana befriends the elderly Martel, known only as “El Inglés” to the villagers. He is the only man to ever come from abroad and live in Finisterre. After El Inglés disappears suddenly, Ana rifles through his left behind belongings, where she finds piles of unsent letters to his estranged Canadian granddaughter. Revealing the origins of their family name traced back to Lyons, France, the curse placed upon them by history when their ancestor Charlotte Martel was beheaded in the persecution of the Protestant Huguenot’s by the Catholic king Louis XIV, and the Martel’s escape to the New World.

Truly innovative in its storytelling and brings together all three of Jay Malinowski’s artistic disciplines, including original ink sketches; Skulls and Bones will be released in seven chapters, and will be available in two different formats: an enhanced version including songs, inspired by the content of the chapter, and a regular text version.


Born in Montreal and raised in Vancouver, Jay Malinowski is a musician, visual artist, and author, who truly lets the medium deliver the message. Best known for his work as frontman of the critically acclaimed Juno Award winning band Bedouin Soundclash, Malinowski first made a name for himself as a visual artist in Toronto after graduating from Queen’s University with a degree in fine art. Skulls & Bones (Letters From a Sailor to His Long Lost Granddaughter) is his first novel. Malinowski currently resides in Vancouver, B.C.

To request an interview with Jay Malinowski,

please contact Lauren Morocco at

The X-Canada tour starts in two weeks in Victoria. Let’s go…big news to announce next Tuesday for Skulls & Bones. PiratesBlend_Jay_2014_TourPoster_final

In late August we congregated at Victor Penner’s place, Ian was in from Spain, Oscar brought his chicken, and we shot the cover of Martel…

Today Martel (Pacific/Atlantic) is released in Canada. We will be releasing slowly over the course of the year worldwide. I hope we see you on the Deadcoast or at a show this year, friends.

To quote the Bad Brains “Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on…”

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Yesterday I spent the day painting with Oscar. It’s two weeks until the release of The Deadcoast record, and I thought I would do some “degenerated” portraits of my grandfather. Here are some pics from the day…

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Merry X-mas, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Froehliche Weinachten!

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Today Martel has reached St. John’s, Newfoundland. He has posted his first letter to his granddaughter Kit. Please visit the new blog! Below is the foreword to the illustrated novella which will accompany the Deadcoast album ‘Martel.’ It outlines the premise and gives the reader a general idea of how to navigate the often complicated world of Martel. I hope wherever you are in the world, you have found some warmth. We will be posting his letters over the course of the next year, hope to see you all in 2014.

here is the new blog


At the end of the world, on a final rocky point, on the western tip of the La Costa da Morte lives the wayward sailor Martel. He has given up the sea. He has given up fighting the wind. He has found land’s end…

At least, this was land’s end when people believed the world was flat. Many years ago latin monks named the place Finis Terrae “The end of the earth.” Over the centuries a small fishing village grew here called Finisterre. Perhaps this is why Martel chose this landing. God knows, in his strange chaotic mind, the world may still be flat. He lives a hermetic life now in a rented flat by the lighthouse. He is known to the locals only as “El Ingles”, and the villagers leave him alone. It seems he wants it that way.

But now we know the world has no end. It’s all just roundness now,  contemplates Ana, who lives in the village. She is in her final year of highschool. Her family has been living in Finisterre for ten generations, she thinks. She counted once. Her father was a fisherman, and his father was one too, and the one before that, but before that, no one knows. That silliness of the past was a fisherman’s tale, started by latin monks many, many years ago when this was the farthest west anyone could venture. We know better now. But, “This might as well be the end. La Costa da Morte, this feels like a deadcoast,”  she mutters into the wind, as she walks home one day. There is no work here, only history, she thinks. The village is slowly ebbing away, everyone young must leave.

Ana and Martel form a silent bond as they both pass each other nightly on evening walks along the break-wall. Ana views Martel, or ‘El Ingles’,  as a kindred spirit. They both long for a home which they have left, or will be leaving. One day Martel goes missing and Ana investigates his home. There she finds a box of letters inscribed “Skulls & Bones”, post dated from 1957-63 from Martel to a girl named Kit. As Ana discovers, Martel wrote these letters during his time at sea in the Merchant Navy.  She’s fascinated by the letters and the scrappy pen & ink illustrations of his stories that are all there in the box. She also uncovers his Captain’s log. Through reading the letters, Ana discovers that Martel wrote these letters to his estranged granddaughter Kit, who lived with her father on Canada’s pacific coast. Ana unearths Martel’s intent, which was to give Kit guidance and care that he was unable to give her during his life at sea.

Martel’s letters reflect his state of mind, where, much like the ocean, sees time, people, events and places surface and submerge at random. He is a man who feels shackled by history, which dates back to the first Martel fleeing France for the New World in 1757. They have been sailors ever since. He believes the family has been fated to repeat the past. Ana finds herself swirling in a vast and mysterious world, lost at sea with Martel. She identifies deeply with him. Martel never had the courage to send the posted letters to his granddaughter Kit. Ana reckons Kit must be in her mid 50′s now living somewhere on the Pacific side of Canada. She makes it her mission to deliver these letters to Kit. She will find Kit somehow, with hopes that perhaps Martel will reappear.

Martel and Ana unknowingly breathe purpose into the sails of each other’s lives. They illuminate that life is always only a series of beginnings, never endings. Our collective story is eternal, and a journey of struggle that is a beautiful victory in itself.

 A Navigation for the Reader

All letters addressed to Kit from Martel are numbered in black and white on the homepage. There are seven letters in total:

1. Skulls & Bones

2. The Tall Shadow from Saint-Malo & Louis Davore-Martel

3. A Stratovarious & Le Chi-hua-hua de Gucci

4. A Fool’s Tattoo & The Reeperbahn

5. Mastifay & La Désirade

6. A Singapore Sling & Le Chi-hua-hua de Gucci

7. A Dying Californian & The Pacific Gyre

 The story of Ana uncovering the letters are marked in red, and are numbered in roman numerals preceeding the letter. All letters correspond to Martel’s travels which can be viewed here

Within the map are the corresponding songs from The Deadcoast album ‘Martel’, numbered 1-18, which follows Martel’s voyage through the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The map is also littered with hidden materials; the flotsam of reckless travel from the beloved Martel. Please explore. If you feel lost, you are in the right place.

A Journal Log of Martel’s life at sea from 1957-63 will be released over the course of the album cycle on twitter. For your daily dose of sailor wisdom and notifications of posted letters follow the man here

All letters will be collated into the final book, “Skulls & Bones: Letters at Land’s End from a Sailor to his long-lost Granddaughter”. Single bound chapters are available at all Deadcoast shows. For information about live shows please visit

 A Message from Jay…

I started writing these letters and formulating the stories while I was walking across Spain. I had just finished recording the double album ‘Martel’. After walking over 800km I found myself on the western coast, which is strangely enough called La Costa de Morte or The Deadcoast. I was watching a local football match in Coruña and saw the people and their lives as very similar to a life my grandfather described in the Maritimes.

The premise of these letters, and the album ‘Martel’, have been based on my family history on my mother’s side, specifically the maps and family records left behind by my Grandfather, John Huntington. He was a man who truly loved Cape Breton, and told us stories of his life there in Mira Gut whenever he got the chance. I believe growing up on an ocean has a deep affect on a person. I grew up on the Pacific, and so from there I started exploring my fascination with the ocean, and put my music, letters, and drawings into the perspective of our shared love for the Atlantic and Pacific.

Martel was also influenced by my friend’s father, Ian Cameron, who now lives in Spain and spent his twenties in the Merchant Navy. The journal entries and twitter account come directly from his entries during that time. It’s a fascinating look into a world which has vanished. Ian was the first person to introduce me to reggae as a kid, after he spent time working in Kingston and brought back Burning Spear and Toots records. I listened to his stories of being a sailor and found a deep similarity with being a touring musician. He graces the back cover of the Martel album.

The ocean is freedom, solitude, and hope for change, but it is also a treacherous place of destruction. Martel is a collection of many stories, he is an Everyman character, and has sailed his entire life looking to uncover an answer to his restless spirit. However, in the end, he has found only the skills in which to navigate his comedy of errors. With my grandfather’s notes, Ian’s journal entries, and my own experiences, I have tried to convey this grand narrative through song, story, and drawings, to the best of my ability.

I hope that uncovering Martel’s struggles and triumphs in the maps, songs, and stories can help shine a light to somewhere the reader hasn’t yet been, and build a bridge from the past to the present. Martel is like everyone else in this world; we are all trying to get by; we all wish to be truly understood and free, and we all yearn for a port to call home. Martel came from a personal place, but I believe his spirit is universal.


Ladies & Gentleman,

The map of Martel’s travel around the world, through Pacific to Atlantic, is now online and can be explored here:

Go to Sea with Oscar...

The map corresponds to all 18 songs on the upcoming record ‘Martel’ and is littered with Deadcoast hidden content as well as notes and photos from around the world. Songs and stories will surface as we progress.

You can use the Captain’s Log to guide you. The Captain’s Log Twitter comes courtesy of our friend Ian Cameron, born in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. He now lives in Spain; the land of the Deadcoast. He will be tweeting small parts of his journals written in his twenties while working in the Merchant Navy as a radio officer. There will also be tweets to navigate the reader to new or hidden materials. Follow Martel on twitter for your daily dose of sailor philosophy and wisdom:

On La Costa da Muerte

If you feel lost, you are in the right place on the map. Enjoy, and we will keep posting new material as it comes in. ~Jay.

Today we have released the first song off Martel called “Patience Phipps (The Best To You)”

Patience Phipps


For those outside of Canada, we have set the song with the lyrics to the film “I CONQUER THE SEA”, a classic 1936 film set in Newfoundland.

This song is a love letter I wrote from the perspective of a young man who through mysterious circumstances vanished somewhere out at sea…

When I started going back through my grandfather’s handwritten notes the name Patience Phipps jumped off the page. It was such a strange and beautiful name.  I kept reading.  As I scrolled and squinted through the sometimes illegible scrawl I found the record of N. beside her. It was a very short entry;  N. Martel, (b. 1843- d. 1869).

He was only 26 when he died. In those notes it merely stated ‘drowned at sea’ and ‘off the coast of Boston.” I decided to dive deeper into N.’s life and found an article written by Leroy Peach a few years back in the Cape Breton Post. Some small entries from his diary had been recovered…

Leroy Peach writes:

“…his diary [began] when he was 19 [and] ends on Sept. 19, 1869. He sailed for Boston on Sept. 7. Fog and poor winds meant that it took the schooner five days to reach Canso. On Sept. 17, he reached Boston. In Boston, he worked for $2 a day and his board was $5 a week.
He never returned to Mira, although he longed for it. Near the end of 1869, [he] was swept overboard from a vessel in Halifax Harbour. The details of his drowning are unknown. Only a few scraps of his life story remain.”

Published in the article were N.’s entries:

N. Martel Diary

From these notes I grafted together N.s story in my mind, and his very tragic end. Patience Phipps’ name was so poetic in light of N.’s life. So from there I wrote “Patience Phipps (The Best To You)” about a man who sails away to provide for his future life at home. It is a sad love letter to a girl who will always be waiting. Patience Phipp’s was married to Joseph Martel, N.’s grandfather. The two lived happily in Cape Breton all their lives. N. left behind all that he loved to look for fortune. He never found this happiness and was hopelessly homesick. Thus, it’s an imagined ideal that N. searched for in his own life. Patience Phipps is symbolic of his longing for home and for love.

In late September of this year I visited my Grandfather’s childhood home on the ocean, where my cousins Marcel & Jill Côté now live. Along with our relative “Papa” Don we went down to the family graveyard where some of my grandfather’s ashes were spread along the shoreline. I explained the song “Patience Phipps” and I was lead over to N.’s tombstone.

nehemiah's tombstone

As I stood there Don asked me to come with him to his home across the road, as he had something sitting in his front room that might interest me. There, next to my grandfather’s piano, was N’s weathered seachest which had been recovered from the schooner. Somehow the few scraps of N.’s short life had pieced together much more.

nehemiah's sea chest


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