Ex-Counterparts Member Jesse Doreen Launches Ambient Project Glass Mask, Discusses the Importance of His Indigenous Identity
"As an Indigenous musician it's important for me to use my platform to bring my perspective beyond just sharing a song"
Published Jun 12, 2020Since leaving the Hamilton metalcore band Counterparts in 2016, Jesse Doreen has had a fruitful and unpredictable career. First came the dream pop project Plum, and now he's continuing to expand his sound with the new ambient/experimental alias Glass Mask. Along with sharing the project's debut single, "X3TM," Doreen is using this moment to celebrate his Indigenous heritage.
"I think it's extremely important for Indigenous people to identify as being Indigenous. Not only to identify, but to be proud," he tells Exclaim! "I have found myself hesitant speaking on behalf of these topics in the past, as I've struggled with my own self-identity my entire life."
Things began to change for Doreen after he left Counterparts in 2016; he spent the subsequent year learning the Mohawk language, Kanien'kéha, and fostering a deeper connection with his family and his own background. But with this increased self of self-identity came harsh lessons about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
"I also learned a lot more about systemic racism and how the Canadian government and the Catholic Church forced Indigenous children into residential schools in order to psychologically and physically destroy our culture and our way of identity," he says. "While this added another layer of confusion and distaste for the world, it helped me to understand my struggles and allowed me to feel a sense of self."
It's from the midst of this journey of self-discovery that he's launching Glass Mask, a project that shares its name with Doreen's production and mixing work. It began when he and his girlfriend Rachael Kross (also of Plum and the new project nares) were approached to write music for the trailer of the 2019 movie Mickey and the Bear. During a sleepless night of intense work, Doreen composed the futuristic, cinematic ambient track "X3TM."
"I worked for 20 hours straight, coming up with ideas, and this song is the result of that," he says. "The next day I was told that the director of the movie changed her mind about the initial direction but still wanted us to be in charge of creating the music for the trailer."
While "X3TM" was never used, the experience was inspiring enough that Doreen created Glass Mask as a new avenue for his music and collaborations.
The song represents a bold step forward for the onetime Counterparts member — not only because of the new stylistic direction, but also because of the way he is using the new project to highlight his experiences as an Indigenous artist. He's launching Glass Mask during National Indigenous History Month, and he's encouraging listeners to donate to the charity Indspire, which supports Indigenous education.
"As an Indigenous musician, it's important for me to use my platform to bring my perspective beyond just sharing a song," he says. "I'm still learning and I can only speak from my personal experiences."
Listen to "X3TM" below, along with the final trailer for Mickey and the Bear. Meanwhile, Doreen is working on new music with Counterparts; even though he's still not in the band, he remains involved in the writing process.