Molly Zackary wanted to put her thoughts on music and life to paper. Naturally, the multi-genre Denver singer reached back to the do-it-yourself ethos of the punk scene she was part of as a teenager and produced a zine.
“It is lovingly crafted with glue and tape,” Zackary says of the zine, called Mixtape. “It’s me going to the photocopy place and using the X-Acto knife and getting down and dirty with the actual production process.”
The sixty-page zine, partially inspired by playlists Zackary has made to mark certain occasions, includes different chapters about songs by her favorite bands and musicians — people like Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac, the Descendents, Fugazi, Submission Hold and Bikini Kill — and how they impacted her life. She says that she also just loves to write about music, and people who like music journalism should enjoy the zine. (It's actually called Mixtape #4, but it's the first printed and true zine version of the project.)
“I just love writing about music, and I love writing about how a song was produced,” she says. “I love writing about how the vocals sit within the track. I love to explore lyrics. I love to talk about how the snare drum is operating to establish a groove. There’s a lot of exploration of the nitty-gritty of what makes a good song.”
Other chapters concern her thoughts on things like substance abuse and grief. The death of her father about twenty years ago, for example, is visited in a few of the thirteen vignettes that make up Mixtape.
“There has been as much of my life without him as there was with him,” she says. “So it’s a deep reflection on him, on the life I had with him and how he was a part of me coming into my own then...all this young adulthood that was really experienced through the lens of not having him and processing that grief alone.”
Zackary, who has also performed as Molly Growler, is classically trained and has played everything from punk to jazz. She has an online concert scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, at 6 p.m., put on in coordination with Swallow Hill Music, where she teaches voice. Over the years, she's played in numerous Denver bands — including Rope Trick Effect, a four-piece "jazz-punk-junk-funk outfit" — and owned and operated a record store, so it’s an understatement to say she loves music. She’s looking at the concert as a way to give listeners a retrospective of songs that have shaped her life.
“I just thought it would be the perfect format for me to kind of say here's how I got into music,” she says. “Here's the first song I ever played on guitar, things like that. And kind of tracing maybe some early-childhood music experiences, but also some of the bands and music that I played and performed with here in Denver.”
She’s also planning to bring back back one of her musical alter egos, Sybil Vane — a sort of cabaret act that mixes slapstick and performance art — as well as premiering new material and covers. Local musicians Squirrely McSquirrelington and Dustin Adams will join on bass and piano, respectively.
The online show is part of an ongoing series called Swallow Hill Live, an effort by the music-based nonprofit to stream live music in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Viewers will have the opportunity to make donations that will be split among Zackary and Swallow Hill.
The show will also serve as a release for the zine, and viewers will get information on how to order it during the live stream. Asked if zines had ever gone away or were poised to make a comeback, Zackary says: “It's a weird time. A lot of people are at home. We almost have to go back to old-school ways of connecting with people, kind of like literature. I think people have so much they want to say and so much they want to share. It’s like just make your own thing, make your own theme. Maybe zines will have an explosion in 2020.”
Get information on how to watch the concert on Facebook. Mixtape will be available at Denver’s Mutiny Information Cafe on Broadway and on the Rope Trick Effect Bandcamp page. Zackary also has a Patreon page, and more information on her music is available at her website.
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