Fan Fave Video Nominee Jessie Reyez Drops Personal Short Film ‘Gatekeeper’
Jessie Reyez is one of the most exciting new musicians to emerge in recent years, and her latest project is yet another example of the Toronto artist living up to her hype. Reyez dropped her debut EP Kiddo on April 21, a seven-song punch to the gut filled with stunning tracks about love, loss, and identity, all delivered with Reyez’s beautifully gritty vocals.
Now Reyez has followed up the EP with a short film that expands on the inspiration behind Kiddo’s fifth track, “Gatekeeper.”
Reyez dropped a video for the track on April 26, with the video’s storyline mimicking the personal and honest lyrics. In “Gatekeeper,” Reyez attends a party where she meets a record producer who likes her voice. Ecstatic to finally make a connection in the tight-knit music industry, Reyez is devastated when the producer later demands she have sex with him in exchange for his help.
The music video was just the teaser, with Reyez now revealing that “Gatekeeper” was based on an actual event that happened to the singer. Turning the music video into a short film, dialogue is added and Reyez’s opening narration is expanded to fill in the gaps of the troubling story that took place five years ago.
Reyez opens the film by describing how important music is to her, saying that an invite to a party where she knew producers would be felt like her big break at the time. One producer in particular took an interest in Jessie, with the actual offender’s name being removed from the film.
The tone is quickly set, with the producer making a joke that puts both Reyez and the viewer on edge. His role as a character that isn’t to be trusted is quickly established and later realized as his suggestion to move the party to a more private setting comes with the stipulation that Reyez and her friend ride in separate cars. Once in the car, the producer touches Reyez’s hair without her consent, with the singer making it clear that she’s not interested in anything sexual, instead hoping they can discuss music. The producer becomes irate, screaming obscenities at Reyez and informing her that being in the music business means giving away the rights to your own body.
Reyez narrates much of the remainder of the clip, chastising herself for going into the producer’s house, an understandable decision when a position of power is exerted, especially over a young woman. Reyez eventually meets up with her friend again, breaking down in tears.
Choosing to bravely tell her story and share a traumatic experience doubles as yet another example of Reyez’s commitment to her art and to using her platform to help others. Sexual assault in the music industry is sadly not a new story, with artists like Lady Gaga and Kesha speaking out about their assaults at the hands of music producers. Reyez’s addition to the sexual assault narrative not only acts as a cautionary tale in music, but also to anyone put in an impossible position of having to navigate what they’re willing to give up in order to achieve their dreams. Most importantly, Reyez’s “Gatekeeper” will help others who have gone through similar situations feel less alone.
Jessie Reyez scored her first iHeartRadio MMVA nomination this year for Fan Fave Video for “Shutter Island.” In addition to her debut EP Kiddo, which is available now, you can also hear Jessie on the upcoming Calvin Harris album. Set to be released on June 30, Funk Wave Bounces Vol. 1 also features fellow Toronto artist and Wildcard nominee PartyNextDoor, as well as Katy Perry, Frank Ocean, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Future, Big Sean, Schoolboy Q, Migos and more.