Heartbreak sounds good on The Seshen’s latest album “Nowhere”
On their latest album, the Bay Area collective The Seshen leans all the way into the swirl and disorientation of loss and heartbreak. “Nowhere,” which was released independently on October 6, 2023, features the sonic push and pull of emotion felt by lead singer and lyricist Lalin St. Juste and producer Akiyoshi Ehara as their long-term marriage and romantic relationship came to an end. “It felt like being nowhere and maybe everywhere, but just the sense of no longer feeling a sense of belonging,” says St. Juste from her home in Oakland, “When you build your entire life around something, it's your family, it was this band, you know? And so all of a sudden all of that is gone and it's gone because of something that you just feel inside that you have to listen to.”
Having been together for 14 years at that point, living together and creating albums like 2016’s brilliant Flames & Figures and 2020’s CYAN, the dissolution of their romantic relationship meant an evolution of their writing process. “Music was not only the thing that brought us together initially, so many years ago, it was the thing that kept us connected while our romantic relationship was changing, and we needed space, and we needed time apart.” So instead of jumping into their in-home studio whenever inspiration struck, they would send each other ideas virtually (the pandemic also happened to make this a necessity).
St. Juste would write on her own, spending her days going on hikes in Oakland and searching for trails that featured water or streams so she could access all her emotions. “We had to negotiate with each other that this was going to be the subject anyway. And even as I was writing these things, I had to check in to say, you know, is this okay?” St. Juste says of that time. “It was an interesting thing to try to figure out how to do that in a way that felt respectful to our healing process. And also figuring out within myself, how can I be the most free in this expression, even though I'm doing it with my ex-husband, how can I be completely free?”
Even though it was created apart, the album coheres around this central mood of loss and stepping into the unknown. There’s a constant tension of all the emotions in the mix of songs, whether it’s a track you’d be crying to on the dancefloor or the song you want to sing too loud driving in alone in your car at night. From the sonic flairs and surprises in the production to the vulnerable song lyrics, there’s also a sense of catharsis in the album – the relief of getting to express and process the situation through the music.
The Seshen has never been bound by genre, and it’s what makes “Nowhere” an album that you not only want to return to but also want to stay present with. There are unexpected turns that hint at influence across all spectrums of sound and music. On the single “Hold Me” you get Little Dragon energy, and “Gone Under” starts with a blues chord that could come from King Krule but then takes an experimental turn like we’re not on this planet anymore. On the fuzzy “Lost at Night” with its indie-rock vibe and ear-friendly melody, St. Juste sings, “Take me back/to your laugh/to the dreams we always had/ nothing’s real/I can’t tell/how we’re now supposed to feel.” The disorienting swirl of heartbreak ever present.
But in the driving music and that swirl, there is also the shimmer of hope for the future self and gratitude for the gift of love and how it can change and grow, even if it’s not in the way you imagined. “To experience this journey inside of this love that is changing it gives me a unique experience that I'm grateful for” St. Juste concludes. “That we can put out an album and have a friendship and experience our love in a completely different way than we have before.”