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When singer/pianist Mali Sastri performs with her art-rock combo Jaggery, her voice conjures personas from haunting siren to primal demon. She traces that range to voice movement therapy.

“The voice is the bridge between the inside and the outside. It can be the place where thoughts and emotions get jammed,” says the singer, who studied voice movement therapy in London. “[It’s] letting everything out through the voice, the ugly sounds—not just what we think of as pretty—and all the personalities.”

That touches on the dark side of Sastri’s life. She cites self-hatred and eating disorders that plagued her for years. “I was dealing with body issues through dance,” she says, “punishing the body but also trying to enjoy it, trying to express something.”

Music was always another outlet, and it took the forefront after a series of dance injuries. She cites Cyndi Lauper and the Cocteau Twins among early influences, and she was inspired by Lexington comrade Amanda Palmer, who, after high school, invited Sastri to help write a group-penned play.

Sastri went on to London and New York, where she formed Jaggery (named after an unrefined brown sugar) eight years ago. The band has solidified over the past few years with upright bassist Tony Leva, drummer Daniel Schubmehl, violist Rachel Jayson (also of Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys) and harpist Petaluma Vale.

The group’s sense of dramatic atmosphere should find fresh grist in an upcoming album that addresses Sastri’s feelings after reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. “I like the Jungian idea of the shadow self,” Sastri says, “and I ran with it.”

~ Paul Robicheau