Jesse Jams tells the kind of survival story we don’t hear nearly enough. The Cree, Ojibway, and German transgender singer/guitarist of self-proclaimed “mumble punk” band Jesse Jams and The Flams has experienced countless hardships in his 25 years. Growing up in Edmonton, Alberta with a lengthy list of mental health disorders including fetal alcohol syndrome and schizophrenia, while moving between 45 different locations before turning 18, Jams has now found solace in music.
This 15-minute short by drummer turned director Trevor Anderson, streaming for free on Vimeo after a run of festival appearances, is as emotionally charged as it is stylishly filmed. Following Jams and his band mates from a guitar shop to his grandparents’ house while preparing for an outdoor performance at Edmonton’s Interstellar Rodeo festival, its scenes are narrated in first person with unvarnished observations. This continues in Jams’ songs, channeling his troubled experiences into fist pumping hooks and darkly funny lyrics. Interested listeners can continue to Bandcamp and hear instant classics like “It’s Not Fun to Stay at the YMCA.”