Updated: May 14
*Editor's note: This issue is dedicated to the memory of Jill Mack who passed away recently. We have asked her friend Ellen Froese to write this month's letter to the editor. We are honoured to feature Jill on our cover this month.*
I met Jill at our friend Miranda's house when I was nineteen. I was playing a house concert and she was doing sound. I don’t remember many details other than being happy to meet her, thinking she was cool and chill. I think I felt a little intimidated by her. Somehow we got talking about recording and music and we became fast friends. She ended up coming out to my farm to record my 'Ellen Froese' album. She borrowed a tape machine (I wanted the album on tape) and quickly jumped to the task of learning how to record with a new medium. We recorded it super folk-style in my cabin, with just a couple mics and all audio live off the floor. That was a special week, and that album was probably the real start of my solo music career. She encouraged me so much, and I thought she was such a pro and so cool. We talked and laughed lots that week. She drove a sweet old car too. I think the floor was rusting out in some areas. I probably didn't pay her enough for those recording sessions.
Slowly over our eight-year friendship, I earned little slivers of information about her life, where she came from, how she felt about different things. She was a private person up ‘til the end. We mainly just joked and hung out, talked about music, went for beers, to shows, recorded together and with Barrett. Lots of laughing. That was the pocket of our friendship - shivering outside of the studio in -40, or by some soundboard, commenting on the band. I love finding other music nerds, and I definitely found one in her. We both loved music so much and I wanted her to be there for all my recording sessions. She recorded ‘Fightin’ Words’, and my album with Campbell Woods (back in the cabin for that one).
I was always so excited to show up for a show at Amigos or Black Cat, and see that she was at the soundboard for the night. I always knew the sound would be great. She was an inspiration to me, always, and it was important to me to have her around for my albums and shows, not only because she was one of the best at it, but because she was one of the few women doing sound. She didn’t seem to care about that stuff, but I did. Being in her presence inspired me to keep pushing on with music. I should have told her that. Also, we all know how COOOOOOL she was. She had about fifteen versions of the same hoodie, in different colours. That is the mark of a cool person, for sure. My memories of Jill will always be a treat to go back to and live in for a while - always in a weird place with music around, sometimes smoky, mostly laughing at something dumb while we cheersed a Boh.
The week after we finished the preliminary session for my new album, I got the news that her cancer was back. I can’t believe that we got to spend that week together in the studio before it all happened. It was a focused week. I think we all felt like maybe we were making something special. It’s strange listening to the unmixed tracks and thinking about how Jill recorded every sound, set every mic and every level. That's something I'll always cherish - the album will be finished in her honour. I thought maybe we’d go on tour together one day. Even though my memories of her are perfect, I'll always miss her.