Jesse Jams

The arts have always provided an outlet to those feeling like outsiders or lost. Music has been an area in which there have been plenty of stories like that from Elton John to Buffy Sainte-Marie and Demi Lovato. It provided a safe space where they could express themselves. The subject of this short documentary is another example. Jesse is an indigenous trans who has a litany of mental health diagnoses, but has turned to music to help them cope.

Jesse is the frontman of a mumble-punk band called Jesse Jams and the Flams. We get to follow him around for a week as his band prepares to take part in the Interstellar Rodeo music festival in Edmonton. In the build up to the festival, we see trips to music stores to buy a guitar, rehearsals, recording sessions, and sound checks.

Learning Jesse’s backstory we find out that he grew up in care and had to live through years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Life has never been kind to this young man. The day to day challenges Jesse is faced with are momentous, but he has learned to work things out through his music. When the voices in his head tell him to harm himself, he can get them eventually under control by thinking of music or playing. It is one of the only healthy ways he has managed to get his feelings out there.

A different type of coming-of-age story. One which is happening on stage, sort of. We learn everything we need to know about Jesse and his life and feelings through his music. It is all there in the lyrics. His music has become his therapy. A strong person, Jesse, is hoping others who might be suffering in similiar ways to him will see this film and get some inspiration out of it.

Hope is everywhere in the film. In the way Jesse is attempting to get through life and in his music. Art can be powerful and that is demonstrated here.

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