For Jessie Reyez, truth seems to be a guiding value through music. Read on as she gets honest with WBRU, opening up about meditation practices, Toronto, and, of course, her music.
Hey, I’m Quinn and this is…
We’re here together after Jessie’s show today.
Yep, I finished up about an hour ago I think?
Yeah, it was amazing. I really noticed how interactive the crowd was, and you seemed really into that and appreciative. Can you talk a bit more about your relationship with performing?
I have so much fun performing. I guess I got into it because when I was young, I would sit my family down and force them to watch my shitty performances and awful singing. So, I guess making them suffer kind of worked out! I dunno, man. It’s sacred. It’s one of the most sacred things about this industry, to be honest. There’s a lot of politics involved, and there’s a lot of shit behind the scenes that people don’t talk about. Performing and songwriting though are just in the moment. There’s nothing else aside from me and you or me and whoever is watching. Then, it’s just us, and there’s nothing else but right now.
Do you get in a certain headspace before you perform?
Yeah, I pray. I do a quick meditation. I pray with my team. I say we’re going to do this, and then we go and do it.
Do you meditate a lot?
Yes, I do. It saves me. It saves me from myself.
Really? Can you tell me more about that?
I feel like I had a lot of anger issues before, and it’s really helped calm me down. Honestly, music has always been a safe haven for me to express it, but after expressing it, it still exists. With meditation, it’s like a different type of medicine.
I get that. Now, I see you got the Toronto Raptors jersey on.
Yes, I do! Represent!
Okay, okay, are you a fan?
Duh! The hell! Sorry!
Nah, you’re good! Represent!
Duh! Honestly, I’ve had a crush on Kyrie Irving for a long time.
Do you usually rep Toronto when you perform?
Yah, I mean, I feel like I rep it because I am it. Like, I speak how I speak because I was born in that city.
Do you get any of your musical influences from the Toronto area?
Oh god, yes. My girl Savannah Re is a huge one for me. She’s killing it. I love my city. It’s dope.
Any good food spots you want to namedrop?
Any good food spots? Yo, they should pay me because I’ve mentioned them in interviews like three times. There’s this place in King Wests called the Wheat Sheaf that has the most fire hot and honey garlic wings with blue cheese. It’s so good. You get that and like a big Heineken, and it’s game over.
Good stuff. You got any other shows in the US that are coming up?
Not too many. I’m opening up for Anderson.Pak, and I’m doing a private show tonight. That’s pretty much it for this run through.
But you’ll be back for your U.S. fans soon?
Nice. So, in 2018 you released your EP “Being Human in Public.” What are you hoping people have been taking away from that?
Truth. Yeah, I want people to take away truth. If they take away a friend too, that’s dope. They have a friend in the dark, cool. I put my demons out there, so, if anyone has demons that look the same, I’m just happy they don’t have to feel alone. I know I don’t feel alone when I listen to music that really relates to me.
I feel that. In that EP, you jump between singing and rapping really well…
Do you have a preference of which?
No, I don’t care about it. It’s whatever.
You also bring out the Spanish in that album. I love that.
Hah, thank you.
Do you also not have a preference for Spanish or English?
I don’t know about preference, but it definitely feels more intimate when I speak in Spanish, primarily because Spanish is my first language. Since that language is the one closest to my heart and was in my formative years, any time I speak in Spanish with someone it feels like we took a step closer together, you know?
Yeah, I get you. Do you have any idea where your music is headed next?
I’m working on my debut album now. It’s going to be out this year! It’s truth. It’s truth. Everyone always asks me, “What’s changing?” and I’m always just like, “Oh fuck, I’m just, I’ve been real. I’m going to die real.” So, I don’t think that’s going to change. It’s just going to continue to be a reflection of my life.
That’s really cool. Unfortunately, we have to wrap up now. Before we do, WBRU talks to a lot of students and young people interested in music, starting out. Do you have anything you want to say to people that age?
Yeah! Fail faster! Fail fucking faster. Don’t be scared of failure because, if you do that, you stay stagnant. You just stay still, and time isn’t going to wait for you. Months will pass. Years will pass. You’re just going to sit there thinking. So just do it. Do whatever it is you’re just sitting there thinking about. Move! If you fuck up, you just gotta get back up and try it all again. Try another way, but fail faster.
Thank you for that. I think we’re done, but it was so good to talk to you.
Thank you so much! Bye!