Forever learning and burning with a wildfire passion for her craft, Apple Music’s Up Next for November 2019 artist Jessie Reyez takes us on a thought-provoking whistle-stop tour of her beautiful mind and soul.
With a string of collaborations attached to her name, from the likes of Daniel Caesar to Dua Lipa, Jessie Reyez is an elevating unstoppable force of realness and rawness.
“I’d be lying if I told you that this was something that was preconceived,” Jessie tells us, in response to her most recent single and music video, ‘Far Away’ and the depth of its subject matter. “The actual song was made in LA with Vegyn and Roget. We were just having a conversation about long-distance relationships because we had all been through it. I find that sometimes when you’re writing a song you have to construct it, other times it flows out. I remember we were just on the piano, each one of them was on the keyboard and I had a mic. ‘Far Away’ was a song where the lyrics just flowed out.”
Despite the Jessie’s single being a lyrical exploration of the tensions between love, distance and the anxieties that arise with that; the visuals, which were directed by Peter Huang, delve into something much deeper. “Once the song was done, the lyrics that stood out to me were ‘Been feelin’ like the government wants us to break up”.
The music video shows us that the idea of distant relationships transcends romance, from the presence of American flags and fleeing immigrant children – it’s this desensitisation that occurs when a typical American family or even Jessie herself are watching TV screens, bombarded with political images. However, it’s not until police presence wreaks havoc on the rare moment of intimacy that the couple share, that they become fully aware of the effect of this underlying-now-overt political chaos.
Self-assured, Jessie finds strength and wisdom in her identity as a Latina, she emphasises the importance of being socially engaged in relation to issues such as immigration. “I feel like you’d have to be blind not to be affected by that and as a Latina, you’d have to be blind not to be empathetic towards that.”
The singer-songwriter’s upbringing allowed her to further embrace the two cultures, which is often rare in a political climate riddled with fear and separation. “I come from an immigrant family. My parents are both from Colombia. I feel really blessed to have been born in Toronto because it’s so multicultural. It’s almost like I was encouraged to subconsciously wave your parent’s flags, your roots, your blood, your history, your roots. I think it gave me an opportunity to embrace a full sense of my identity. It allowed me to stay connected.”
It’s this unity that Jessie welcomes, which finds itself embedded within every single she makes. Whether it be her open-woundedly raw and soulful breakthrough single ‘Figures’, which premiered by Zane Lowe on Beats 1, or her emotionally fuelled, yet gently sung in Spanish ‘Sola’, the singer-songwriter has received over 325 million streams on the Apple Music platform, which emphasises her ability to effortlessly engage a worldwide audience.
A writer at heart, Jessie describes her creative process in a vivid way, “when inspiration comes it’s like a faucet that drips and when it drips you have to build it and it’s a little bit more mechanical. And sometimes, the faucet is open and the water just flows, and you might not even have to write any lyrics down – it’s just there. It just depends on the day. Sometimes you struggle, sometimes you don’t.”
In relation to her upcoming album, the singer-songwriter examines human nature and its link to mortality. “I looked at life and death, and how they have these positive and negative connotations attached to each other. But instead, I just replaced life with love. I explored this idea, that the day you meet the love of your life, is the day you meet your murderer and that’s the person that’s going to hurt you the most. In relation to death – when somebody dies, no matter what you have to say goodbye; I looked at this in a positive way. If you keep your mortality on your shoulder everyday, tomorrow might be the end. Today you might not let shit bother you as you would normally – you might just be more authentic in the way you react, because tomorrow might be it”.