Jessie Grace is the vocalist of KOSM, a Vancouver-based prog metal band. Jessie is a versatile artist with an impressive and ever-evolving range of vocal abilities. See what Jessie has to say about covers, song writing, mental health and more in our interview below.
MG: First of all, let’s begin by talking about your recent cover of “Rule of Nines” by Spiritbox. You nailed the song while making it your own, and you created a stunning video along with it. How does your visual artistry influence your choice of covers, and vice versa?
Jessie: In all honesty, I never really got too creative when it came to filming my covers and stuck to the basics of just in front of the camera with a microphone pretending to sing into it. However, with “Rule of Nines”, the song just had such a dark, ambient and ethereal quality that was also so powerful and I suddenly really wanted to portray that in a visual sense.
However, the visual aspect of choosing my covers has never really been something I think about, as I choose songs that fit my vocal style or inspire me to do better and challenge myself. With that said, I really enjoyed creating the video for “Rule of Nines” and look forward to experimenting with more visual queues. Makeup is a huge part of self expression for me, so I can definitely see that carrying through my next few cover videos I have planned.
MG: As the vocalist of Canadian progressive metal project, KOSM, what would you say is your proudest accomplishment, or fondest memory so far with the band?
Jessie: Opening for Jinjer is definitely a huge one for me! We opened for them on Halloween night in 2019 with Sumo Cyco and The Browning which was surreal. It was a completely sold out show and we gained a bunch of new friends and listeners that night. I think that night will always hold a special place in my heart, especially since I’ve become such a fast fan of Tatiana as a vocalist and find major inspiration in her talent.
MG: You recently started up another project called Don’t Deserve a Grave, which is more of a blackened hardcore project. Do you find that you have to go into a different headspace when writing for KOSM vs DDaG, and how do the processes differ, if so?
Jessie: One hundred percent. I need to go into a different headspace when it comes to lyrics and vocal ‘melody’ when it comes to both bands. With Don’t Deserve a Grave, it’s just strictly harsh vocals and the content is much more brutal and less articulate – it’s almost a little more freeing because it’s much more formulaically simple than KOSM. It’s literally just great live show music that’s intense and easy to mosh to, which is super fun and just as rewarding in a different way.
With KOSM, it’s much more mentally taxing due to the fact that it’s both singing and screaming and the lyrics are more personal to me and my experiences. I put much more articulation into the lyrics that I write for KOSM because I want to send more of a message than with DDAG. Of course, that could very well change as DDAG continues to evolve and grow, but as it stands KOSM takes much more time and mental capacity due to the sheer length of the songs as well as their complexities.
I love writing for both bands, just for very different reasons!
MG: As a versatile vocalist you seem to always be growing and evolving. What are some things that inspire you to keep learning and fine-tuning your craft?
Jessie: I’ve always been a parrot of sorts in the sense of, if I hear something, I try to replicate it before morphing it and making it my own. I have my major inspirations that I come back to over and over again that reignite my need to try something new or push myself to do better. It’s a state of constant practice and experimentation with the need for reward. Nothing feels better than learning a new technique and hearing it utilized in a song that you wrote!
These inspirations can be found in different people, some in the metal scene (Brittney Slayes, Phil Bozeman, Joe Duplantier) but in other genres as well. Something I’ve been coming back to is the control of those who do musical theatre; how they need to enunciate, have immense stamina and belt in their mix is super inspiring for me at the moment.
MG: What are some of your favorite ways to practice and challenge yourself?
Jessie: I love doing covers! Again, trying to replicate something that someone else is doing but then turn and make it my own is huge. It helps me learn and practice in a fun way that makes me feel like I’m not even practicing in the first place because, I’m gonna be real, vocal warm ups/ scales/ traditional practicing is not my favourite. As much as I know it’s necessary, and continue to do it, I find most success doing covers and just practicing songs that make me inspired.
MG: If you could go back in time to the beginning of your vocal adventure to give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Jessie: It’s okay to suck! It’s totally normal to be really, really bad when you start screaming or trying to extend your range. It takes time to build a foundation when you don’t have one but if you practice you’ll get to where you want to be. Eventually, where you want to be won’t be enough and you’ll just keep building and building; you’ll always be improving.
Also, have fun with it. Don’t take things so seriously. This is something I still try to tell myself but I wish I’d started that mantra sooner.
MG: If you made a band with the characters of your favorite show or movie, what genre of music would you play, and who would play which instrument? (Extra points if you can think of what your band name would be.)
Jessie: Oh man, this is a tough question! I would have to go with ‘the Thing’ (the 1982 one) and we’d probably play progressive rock similar to that of ‘Yes’ or ‘King Crimson’. Y’know, really experimental, sci-fi inspired stuff and we’d call ourselves ‘Copper Wire’.
MG: You’re based in Vancouver, Canada, a beautiful and interesting city. What is one of your favourite or most underrated spots, or a place you’d recommend to someone visiting the city for the first time?
Jessie: The Astoria! That venue is where most of the best shows are played. If you’re a metalhead and wanna be surrounded by the most friendly, supportive people in the community, go to a show at the Astoria.
As for Vancouver as a city itself, I would recommend going to Deep Cove, as it shows the most that Vancouver offers. You have the ocean but then five minutes away is the mountains, so it really showcases the beauty of the Pacific NorthWest. I’m blessed enough to live in that area and, as touristy as it gets, I understand why people adore it so much – it’s a truly beautiful place to be.
MG: As we know, the last year has been trying for many of us. But, on a hopeful note, what is something you’ve learned in the last while that you’re thankful to have learned?
Jessie: I’ve learned to take care of yourself and your mental health. It’s been difficult not having my typical community surrounding me, as venues are obviously closed where I am. However, making sure that you are taking care of yourself as well as upkeeping those relationships, whether that be online, or in person in safe, social distancing situations, is crucial. It’s definitely hard work especially if you struggle with mental health, but know the reward is very much worth it.
Also, making sure that you make time for the things you love, which may seem a little silly seeing as we all seem to have nothing but time on our hands. However, without that community to keep you motivated, it’s important to remind yourself to make time for the things that bring you inspiration and joy! How I’ve been doing that is turning to tiktok and youtube to showcase my love of metal and performing on a different platform!
MG: What are some of your musical hopes and plans for the summer?
Jessie: Please, just one show! Just a crumb of performing live would be the absolute goal, right now, as unlikely as it seems. Otherwise, my hopes are that KOSM gets into the studio to start recording our second full-length album that has been in the works since late 2019. I am super excited to see what the finished product is but know it’ll probably take some time.
MG: Thanks again, Jessie! Take care