San Francisco's The Seshen is among the many musical acts to be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, with the release of their third album and first short film, both named Cyan, becoming an all-digital affair this week as Boise's Treefort Music Festival, where it was scheduled to premiere on March 28th, has been postponed until September.
In a way it feels fitting for a work that was first conceived in the wake of the last presidential election: The film delves into singer/songwriter Lalin St. Juste's personal journey through confusion, self-doubt, depression, and the effort to save herself from it all—an experience that is no doubt familiar to many these days.
"It can be difficult navigating who we are and who we are within this world, and you can't separate the two," says St. Juste. "I am continuously learning what freedom means to me. I've struggled with a lot of self-doubt over the years, a lot of people-pleasing, and a lot of healing around the effects of racism, sexism, capitalism, etc. It is a continuous process and it takes you to some dark places.
St. Juste's bandmates have, in many ways, made this journey with her; The Seshen began when St. Juste and Akiyoshi Ehara (producer and bassist) got together a group of their friends to experiment. Over the years, the music has shifted as have the band's members, but ultimately The Seshen is made up of childhood friends who describe themselves as a "close-knit family." Their sound "ranges from electronic stuff to experimental rock and post punk; and there's a set of influences of older singer songwriter records," says Ehara, citing influences ranging from Jessy Lanza to Talking Heads to Nico.
"We all have deep histories with music and it's something that I, personally, have always had in my life since I was a little girl discovering to sing in my room," St. Juste says.
Lalin St. Juste, with her bandmates.(Courtesy of The Seshen)
After winning a WeWork Creator Award in the spring of 2018, the band wanted to do something they hadn't before—a narrative video series to accompany their latest album.
Cyan marks this new chapter, an album and video based on emotions rather than a specific genre. It's a sonic journey—an exploration in how far they can push themselves musically—resulting in an expansive body of work that displays great breadth.
Piecemeal they dropped chapters of the film this spring, with each installment conceptualizing four different songs in all, including "Wander," "Dive," "Faster Than Before," and "Don't Answer." Chapter Two, "Dive," won Best Choreography as well as Best Set Design at the 2020 California Music Video and Film Awards.
For the project, The Seshen teamed with Dominic Mercurio, an award-winning SF-based filmmaker and musician who "we love and cherish," says St. Juste. "We sent Dominic the music, and I expressed some of my struggles with depression as well as wrangling through the unfolding aspects of oneself. He wrote this short film to accompany the record, and it was a beautiful process and our biggest production to date."
The Seshen will play Treefort as originally planned in September. In the meantime, they're staying creative in the studio.
"We'll continue to figure out ways to perform and connect with our fans during this time of uncertainty," St. Juste says. The film will be available digitally on YouTube. Here's chapter one, two, and four to get a taste of what's to come.
Watch the complete video series below.
The Seshen - CYAN Narrative Music Video Series www.youtube.com