Before Love Came To Kill Us is out via FMLY/Island Records
Canadian-Colombian songstress Jessie Reyez hit the Lollapalooza stage as a surprise guest during Grandon‘s set. The duo recently released “Rain,” a song created for the new Suicide Squad film that is out in theaters today.
Over the last few years, Jessie has made a strong name for herself as a solo artist, collaborator, and performer. Her captivating voice and songwriting wowed on her 2016 platinum hit “FIGURES,” which led to her debut EP, Kiddo, in 2017. After winning the 2018 Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, she swiftly followed with her EP, Being Human in Public, which won the R&B/Soul Recording of The Year at the 2019 Juno Awards and was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards. She’s also co-written massive hits like the Calvin Harris tracks “One Kiss” and “Promises.”
In March, as the pandemic hit, Jessie shared her debut album, Before Love Came To Kill Us, a confessional 14-track album navigating love, heartbreak, pain, and a wide spectrum of soundscapes. The project features her latest hit, “IMPORTED” with 6LACK, and sees the alt-R&B artist exploring themes around her heritage, relationships, personal experiences, and emotions. The album features standout tracks like “LOVE IN THE DARK,” “ROOF,” and “COFFIN” with Eminem. Nominated for various awards, Reyez won the 2021 Juno for Video of the Year for “No One’s in the Room,” which was directed by Emma Higgins.
Following her performance with Grandson, I connected with Jessie Reyez to chat about Suicide Squad, her debut album, and her next chapter after the pandemic. See below.
You took the Lollapalooza stage as a guest during Grandson’s set. How does it feel to be back to live music?
Nerve-wracking. Not now, because I’m still high on adrenaline, but I was definitely nervous. The stigma is hard to shake. We’re less than 6 feet away from each other, and no one has a mask on, and everyone is moving like it ain’t nothing, so it’s weird, but it’s also lit. I’m also high on adrenaline, so I’m not sure how I will feel about it tomorrow, but right now, I feel great.
Despite the pandemic, have you been able to use the last year to your advantage?
100%. Part of me feels guilty saying it because I was one of the few that was lucky. My immediate family we’re all healthy, and even though I haven’t been able to hug my nieces in two years, but I was able to see them at the very least. I also did some in-house psychological cleaning. Meditate more. I started therapy again. It was like ten years since I talked to a therapist, so that was good, too. So I definitely made a conscious choice to look at it as a cup half full and play with the cards you’re dealt.
Given your past few years, that’s probably the first time you’ve had that much time to yourself in years.
Yeah, probably the first time in five years of non-stop. I’ve never really gotten to enjoy the fruits of labor. You work so hard, save up money, and do all that stuff, but I hadn’t stopped to smell the roses.
You performed “Rain,” your collab off The Suicide Squad soundtrack. How did this song come about?
Grandson had a semblance of the song and it’s crazy how we all got connected. I saw the director of the movie was following me one day, and then Grandon reached out to ask if I wanted to feature on it. Then they sent it, and I wrote my part for it. It was just crazy because then everything was connected. They ended up taking my song “Sola” for the movie as well, which is wild. You can’t connect the dots forward, but you can connect them back, and everything looked like a constellation when everything was all said and done.
So you’re catching the film when it drops next Friday, August 6th?
Yeah! We got blessed with the early link, and I started watching it, and I was five seconds in and *closes the laptop.* I only want to watch it the right way. So, I haven’t seen it. I’m going to wait and watch it with everyone in the theaters.
After years of releasing music, your debut album, Before Love Came to Kill Us, dropped amid a looming pandemic? Was that difficult?
Of course. How could it not? It’s the unknown, so anytime you’re walking into the unknown, you’re taking a risk, right? But everything was done and ready to go, so I put a poll on Instagram, being like, ‘do y’all want this? or should I wait?’ And of course, they were like, ‘are you dumb? Release this.’ So I did, and it was definitely interesting because we didn’t get to tour the album properly, didn’t even get to do interviews properly. Which I’m not even really mad at because doing press tours at 6 am at different radio stations– I could say I’m grateful for those, but I prefer doing them with no pants on from my home.
Before Love Came to Kill Us features your platinum hit “Imported.” Can you tell me the story behind this song?
The song talks about how you can meet people one day, and you never know if in two years that person is going to be the love of your life or a stranger and then all of a sudden you don’t talk anymore and it’s like you lost a limb because you got so used to that person and now you have to export them out, so it’s a play on that.
Like “Sola,” you also sing in Spanish on the song, “La Memoria.” Do you write more in Spanish or English?
More in English. I have more range obviously because I went to school in Canada. Even though it wasn’t my first language. Spanish was my first language. With that being said, even though I write more in English, it doesn’t mean it’s the most intimate vessel. It doesn’t mean it’s the most raw way of getting things out because what’s weird is when I sing in Spanish or write in Spanish – it’s like imagining if I’m sitting beside you and started whispering in your ear. Like that’s what it feels like when I sing, write, or experience Spanish music because it’s something that’s so much closer to my childhood. It’s the language in which I learned to love and be a human being. So even though I don’t do it as often, it almost feels like it’s more intimate for me.
Would you release a full Spanish project?
Absolutely, if God gives me the time.
As a songwriter, you’ve co-written two Calvin Harris hits, “One Kiss” and “Promises.” How did you first connect with him? How do you know when a song is for you or someone else?
Twitter. He reached out on Twitter and this was early on. This is like after “FIGURES.” He’s like, “people in L.A. are excited about you, thought you should know that.” And I was confused but then saw the blue checkmark and was like, omg wtf! What’s crazy is seven years prior to that, I was still working reception at a gym, and I snuck mixtapes into a big sick-ass rave that I went to with my friends called Labour of Love at Guvernment in Toronto. I didn’t have a bunch of money to waste on rave tickets because I was trying to invest in myself, but my friends said they’d pay for it. So I said fuck it, I’ll bring my mixtapes.
We got in. One room was Kaskade; the other room was Steve Aoki and Calvin Harris in one room. So I went around giving out my mixtape, but in Calvin’s room, there was a stage and then a podium. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t really hand my mixtape because it was so elevated. So I gave my purse to my friends, ran up to the podium waving my mixtape… and he’s DJing. He looks up at me, pauses, and gives me one of those faces like “is this girl serious?” and I’m all hopeful and dewy-eyed, and then someone runs up, his manager, maybe, and they take the CD, shaking their head and I’m like thank you, thank you, but then I look over, and he’s calling security. Security is running to me, and I’m thinking I still CDs to pass out; I can’t get kicked out, so I jumped back into the crowd. I didn’t tell him that
How do you know when a song is for you or someone else?
It’s like a sweater. Haven’t you ever loved something when you went shopping and thought that shit was lit but then tried it on and thought, eh, it would look better on someone else, but it’s still lit! Just because it doesn’t look good on you doesn’t mean it’s not great. It’s like that.
You just released “Rain,” but will you be releasing more solo music soon? Can you tell me anything about it?
Yup! I got more shit coming. It’s the consistency in me, and I hope people say this, or I hope my name always aligns with this, but it’s just more truth. I feel like every single piece I’ve ever put out is full of truth. So, I don’t want to tell you about anything new yet, but that constant people are going to get is that truth.
You were on Billie Eilish’s tour before the pandemic and had a headline tour planned. Will you head back on the road soon?
Yeah, God willing. So far, on September 11th, I’m opening for Lizzo in Minneapolis, which I’m excited about.