Canadian Indigenous, Transgender, Mumble-Punk Frontman Jesse Jams

Transgender, First Nation, Mumble-Punk Pioneer Jesse Jams credit: Mike McLaughlin

Award-winning Writer / Director Trevor Anderson’s new documentary short film introduces the extraordinary, transgender, Indigenous, mumble-punk pioneer who calls himself Jesse Jams.

Photos of First Nation mumble-punk pioneer Jesse Jams
Transgender, First Nation, Mumble-Punk Pioneer Jesse Jams credit: Mike McLaughlin

I never expected anything like this (mumble-punk pioneer) to come up. It’s amazing to me.”

— Jesse Jams

First Nation man lives in-between cultures

In the documentary — “Jesse Jams and the Flams,” we meet writer and lead vocalist Jesse Jams, 25, a multicultural, intersectional, First Nation, transgender man living in-between his indigenous culture and the non-Indigenous Canadian community. He is the lead singer in a mumble-punk band — Jesse Jams and the Flams.

Jams identifies as Cree and Ojibwe.

His maternal mother is Ojibwe and his father is Métis, German, Russian, and Cree. He talks about facing struggles with prejudice, but that he does not let it affect him.

Jams sings lead vocals in a multicultural band that embodies the blending of several cultures to make a cohesive whole.

Transgender, First Nation, mumble-punk pioneer--Jesse Jams stands in front of a wall of guitars
Transgender, First Nation, mumble-punk pioneer–Jesse Jams guitar shopping. credit: Mike McLaughlin

Mumble-punk band blending cultures and sounds

The mumble-punk band includes two First Nation, and five Caucasian band members.

Jams spoke candidly about how it is hard living in-between cultures and to feeling “in-between in a lot of ways.”

He accepts that prejudice exists and his way to overcome the sting of it is to channel it through his music.

Creating mumble-punk — a how-to lesson

As a mumble- punk pioneer, Jams takes prompts from his band members in the form of a question. He then uses his response as the catalyst to create song lyrics. The band also works together to form the instrumental and the chorus. Anderson’s film gives us a birds-eye view into the band’s process, and into the inner workings of its lead singer’s life.

Mumble-rap’s Influence on Mumble-punk

Jams is inspired by many musical genres including all types of punk and mumble-rap. He calls his genre mumble-punk because it is the style in which he says the words when he sings.

In the film, Jams speaks to his struggles with maintaining good mental health and his determination to survive and thrive despite challenges is evident in the film. He hopes that it will help and inspire others.

Music and Mental Health

Jams said it is a struggle most days, and that the pandemic is making it a little harder. But overall he feels fine. His “aboriginal” cultural traditions help him to manage stress, anxiety, and to keep him grounded as his star rises within the music industry.

Video interview with Jesse Jams and Trevor Anderson credit: Antoinette Lee Toscano

“I do cultural things, I participate in smudge every morning. I keep myself healthy enough, and music, I gotta say is the biggest (help),” he said, sharing ways he manages multiple mood disorders.

Jams hopes that anyone who appreciates a different artform will like his music. You will notice that there is humor in his songs but also a lot of “real-life” in his words.

I’m hoping that my music could get out there, reach somebody because …. I think music is therapy.”

— Jesse Jams

How Jesse Jams and The Flams Got Started

Jesse Jams and the Flams has in interesting origin story. They formed in a transgender group home where Lyle Bell, who also does bass and vocals for the band, taught Jesse how to play guitar.

(The) band is comprised of upstart youngsters and grizzled rock and roll vets.

— Lyle Bell

Jesse Jams and the Flams recently garnered a high-profile slot at Edmonton’s Interstellar Rodeo Festival, where the band was dubbed “local, underground, faves.” Jams said the band will drop a full-length album at the end of 2020. In addition, the band also plans to play more shows, “once this pandemic thing calms down.”

You can catch Jesse Jams and the Flams’ EP on Bandcamp and the Jesse Jams and the Flams documentary on Vimeo.


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