Jenn Nucum Confronts Personal Struggles in “Monuments”
Navigating life as a diasporic queer woman of color, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Jenn Nucum uses her music to deconstruct the complex fabric of identity with dreamy and ambient alt-rock melodies, honest lyrics, and emotive vocals. She takes listeners on a reflective and evaluative journey of reconciling identity with reality. In her single “Monuments,” Jenn recalls childhood experiences that continue to echo and affect her daily life as a diasporic Filipinx person. She shares,
This song is about being groomed to be palatable to western society, facing cultural erasure starting at a young age, and being forced to navigate oppressive colonial systems and institutions as a racialized person.
Jenn’s songs encompass her experiences as a queer Filipina woman: assimilating to achieve validation, feeling alienated amongst her peers, and the anxieties of editing or censoring herself to blend in. By confronting these personal struggles through music, she seeks to empower those who feel dismissed or invisible–to bravely take up space in society by first performing the inner work of self-compassion and self-acceptance.
In September 2020, Jenn was a participant in MusicOntario’s Canadian Songwriter Challenge, where she had the opportunity to write and produce demos of three original songs, under the mentorship of renowned JUNO and GRAMMY-nominated musicians Terra Lightfoot, Adrian X (Drake, The Weeknd), and Moe Berg (TransCanada Highwaymen, The Pursuit Of Happiness).
Reflecting and empowering, “Monuments” takes inspiration from post-rock. The marching drums bring forth Jenn’s harrowing and somber vocals as she audibly contemplates the experiences she’s had throughout her life when she has tried so hard to blend in, only to realize that she’s working within a construct that was never meant for her. As the recollections spill forward, strings and melodic guitar guide her voice further, in a painfully brazen manner that evokes the hurt she has felt and continues to carry with her. There is unmistakable courage within her voice as the track bursts into catharsis. She reworks and subverts The Beatitutdes from the Bible when she sings “Blessed are the oppressed fighting a broken system,” reflective of her Catholic upbringing and the Philippines ‘ colonization by religion. As the instrumentals build upon each other, “Monuments” becomes a hymn of resilience in the face of oppression – a song for those who are ready to take on a world that was not built for them.