The singer and songwriter embraces music as therapy on an album rooted in the end of her 15-year marriage
When Weezee started on the tracks that form the basis for new album Reset, she did so without a larger project in mind.
Then in the initial stages of a romantic breakup that would eventually lead to the end of her 15-year marriage, Weezee recorded early songs such as “Ring Off” and “How Does It Feel” solely as therapeutic exercises, working in between bouts of tears in the basement recording studio of the home she still shared with her soon-to-be ex.
“I would have gone crazy if I didn’t write [these songs],” said Weezee, who will release the album to all streaming platforms on Friday, Feb. 14, which, in an ironic twist befitting the record’s themes, is also Valentine’s Day. “There were definitely moments when [producer] Jack [Burton] was in my studio, and the person I was writing these songs about was upstairs in the house, and Jack would be like, ‘Holy shit. You sure you want to put this out?’ And I’m like, ‘Kinda. I mean, I gotta. This is what we do.’ … So the first couple songs were me screaming and crying in the studio with Jack and him being like, ‘Shut up. You’re making me cry now, too.’”Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
Weezee’s raw emotions are palpable throughout the record’s first half, which alternates between angry outbursts — “What if I pull up and choke you?” she seethes on “How Does It Feel,” recounting her then-husband’s trust-shattering affair — and pain and uncertainty. “It’s not that hard to be a good person to the one you claim to love,” she sings on the stoically shattered “Mental Prison.”
But even as tempers flare and depressive streaks hit, the music itself never flinches, Burton, who produced a bulk of the album, crafting a layered sonic world that incorporates elements of hip-hop, R&B, smooth jazz and more. Collectively, the instrumentation appears to take its cue from some of the first words uttered by Weezee on album-opening “Hair Trigga”: “It takes a lot of strength to be this gentle.”
While early songs linger on shock, anger, denial and depression, the album’s back half gradually pivots to acceptance and, finally, hope, mirroring a musical journey through the stages of grief. On “Soul Gazing,” the singer even ventures back into the dating field, finding promise in a new relationship. “I almost gave up [and] then I came across you,” she sings amid the quickly dissipating storm clouds.
Weezee recorded these later songs months after the relationship ended in the basement of the new Reynoldsburg house to which she moved in the midst of this massive life reboot.
“It was a totally different environment,” said the singer, who also credits improv comedy with helping to carry her through those tough early days (Weezee is in the cast of Affirmative Distraction, which performs at Via Vecchia on Feb. 27). “I was doing it by myself with my wine and I didn’t have to be like, ‘Did he hear that?’”
The musician, who was born in England to a military family and grew up in Germany, initially gravitated toward poetry as an artistic outlet. Her father, who served in the Army during the first Gulf War, used to hang the poems mailed to him by his daughter in his military barracks. Even now, Weezee fills notebooks with her most personal verses, employing poetry as a means to purge these emotionally raw thoughts before moving into the recording studio, like pre-washing the scuzziest dinner pans before sliding them into the dishwasher. “I will cuss everybody out in the poems,” she said, and laughed. “Then it’ll be like, ‘OK, now we don’t have to say that on the record.’”
Even in her early years, Weezee always sang, and at age 17 her friend urged her to audition as a backing singer for Bizzy Bone of Cleveland rap group Bone Thugz-n-Harmony. She landed the gig, and a year later she was in a Nashville studio, recording vocal’s for Bizzy’s 1998 solo debut, Heaven’z Movie.
At the time, music was a casual pursuit — “It was more like, ‘Everybody’s in the studio, let’s pop a bottle,'” she said — where the form has now taken on a more necessary weight.
“When I was younger, music was just something I did. Now it’s therapy for me,” Weezee said. “Making this album, I went through the grief of losing myself, losing my relationship. I had to hit reset at 40, and I was talking [to Jack] while we were finishing the record [in my new house], like, ‘I feel like I’m 17 and in my first apartment again.’ And he was like, ‘But look, you smilin’, though. A year ago we were crying in that basement. Now look at you. You’re getting somewhere.’ … I might have lost some shit, but [in the end] I found something.”