Local Chicago Artist, Jess The Savior, knows exactly how to command the attention of any crowd in a room. Her performative energy is infectious, gripping the mic with an air of nonchalant confidence. Jess The Savior seems to constantly be in synchronicity with the faces she locks eyes with – while on stage, she can be found jumping and bouncing around like an energizer bunny.
Other moments she is in full surrender, she gets down on her knees and holds the mic close to her lips. She matches the crowd’s energy, an eye for an eye – lying on the bare floor as the bodies sway – beads of sweat dripping from her face, her eyes closed in complete unison.
It’s no surprise that for many local Chicago artists, including Jess The Savior, have been in a complete sense of shock and standstill due to the Quarantine lifestyle we are all now adopting to. For local artists like Jess – who rely on the Chicago Music Scene and Performing as a means to gain exposure, and to be continually inspired to create their art, these artists are suffering big time!
Jess The Savior thrives and shines while on stage – like so many other local artists, shows have been canceled and self-isolation makes it even harder to keep the community of the Chicago Music Scene alive. The need for a sense of community and the ability to collaborate is being robbed from these artists currently – their performative nature is like an object of desire on the top shelf, ultimately out of their reach for the time being.
Jess The Savior’s sound lingers in a melodic, sometimes melancholy trap/rap style. Her lower vibrato voice spits softly over electric guitar riffs, speaking on lost love and the importance of possessing inner strength. That inner strength is needed now more than ever, and became her main muse for her last project, “HEADSTRONG.”
Now, she is back with a new experimental sound with her new single, “Better Plans.” I asked her some questions on the idea of strength, how the state of the world is affecting her craft, and the inspiration behind her new single. Here are her thoughts:
RR: Can you describe your process/approach to making music?
JessTheSavior: Usually, I’ll have a shit ton of thoughts, phrases, stories in my notes at all times. A lot of the time, I write really late at night because that is when I become more aware of my scattered feelings and thoughts. At night, I seem to be able to find more clarity within deciphering what I am actually feeling while the world is quiet. When I am in a funk or experiencing writer’s block, I tend to lean on trying to get the beats to inspire a mood or feeling for a song. Before I approach any type of music-making, I like to listen to a lot of my inspirations so I’ll put a playlist on shuffle to guide me to a headspace of creativity.
RR: On your last project, “HEADSTRONG” you seem to be paying homage to the idea of strength as a whole – the inner strength that resides within you and the strength you saw loved ones exhibit and extend to you as well. What does strength as an artist and musician mean to you? What does strength mean to you in relation to this concept of a past love that you are exploring on these tracks?
JessTheSavior: Strength and resilience is the entire message behind HEADSTRONG. Being stubborn and headstrong is something I’ve been called my whole life because I know what I want. I always have. It’s just the process of how I’m going to get there that has been so unclear.
I think of HEADSTRONG as a continuation to Savior Behavior being that it’s what comes after not getting what you wanted. Love is the general topic and thread within my music, but what makes HEADSTRONG different is the level of acceptance that is achieved – this realization that the act of love is not something that makes you weak. Love is a power that you don’t need to run from. The power of love is something not to be underestimated or feared.
RR: Your new single, “Better Plans” seems to be a departure both sonically and lyrically for you. “Better Plans” has a more jazzy, funky quality to the sound of the beat, bordering on some experimental electronic pockets as well. What inspired this new sound?
JessTheSavior: I hate doing what’s expected of me. I don’t ever want to fit into a single category of music. I want to make music for the world – music that anyone with any taste can listen to and enjoy. Better Plans came from my hunger to show off my love for house music. Both of my parents were DJs growing up so I wanted to pay some respect to them.
I wanted a new wave of sound coming back into the game because I hadn’t released anything since PainKiller which was a more reggaeton beat. At this point in my life, I have grown so much since my first project and I’m tired of just making sad-boy music. All I want to do is talk my shit and dance. Better Plans shines a light on my alter-ego and is the spark to what’s to come in my new music.
RR: In terms of lyrics, “Better Plans” seems to be much more light-hearted in comparison to this sense of lost love that you were exploring on “HEADSTRONG.” “Better Plans” seems to be more rooted in hope, fantasy, and the prospect of growth. Can you talk about how the CoronaVirus is affecting your art and this newfound sense of positivity you seem to be expressing with “Better Plans.”
JessTheSavior: COVID-19 has really put my creativity in a weird spot. I still have all these responsibilities tied to me without the physicality of being able to go out and work for them. It’s hard to be in the house all day just waiting for good news, but it’s more important not to waste that time.
I was sad about having to postpone/cancel shows when everything was first happening but since then it’s allowed me more time to work on more outlets of my artistic life that I just didn’t have the time for before. I’ve been focusing a lot more on visuals, getting those shots, and editing them to a tee. I have been writing more than I usually do as well – having much more time to think and reflect during this period of self-isolation is allowing me to grow lyrically.
RR: Can you talk about how it feels to be a musician right now amongst a global pandemic? Are you feeling a sense of frustration from being unable to perform and connect to a live audience?
JessTheSavior: I really do miss performing. It’s my favorite part of it all but I don’t want to get caught up in thinking about what I could be doing. As a musician right now it is important to focus on what you can do right now – how you can engage your audience more during this time and plan your next moves. Now is the perfect time to do all the things you said you’d do later. Now is later, the world keeps going.
RR: Lastly, speaking on plans for the future – What does the future look like/have in store for Jess The Savior?
JessTheSavior: I’m taking things to a whole other level. I’m a lot happier than I used to be so I want that to be reflected in my music this time around. I’ve been working with a lot more producers too so I’m excited to see where these relationships take me. Overall my goal this time around is to make music people want to dance to, love to, feel young to.