Weezee experienced the full range of emotions when headlined the Funny Bone in January. The musician and improv comic kicked off the show with a tearful, heartfelt tribute to friend , who died in January 2017, and closed it pantomiming outlandish scenarios imagined by the audience to growing, full-throated roars of laughter.
“Regardless of what’s going on in everyday life, I have to tell [Jaron’s] story. Whether I cry, or I make other people cry, I have to tell that story. And I recognize, and I said it that night, that his story is not an easy story for people to hear the first time, and they often don’t know how to react after I tell it. Are you going to cry? Should I hug you? What should we do?” said Weezee who will perform on Friday, Feb. 24. “Sometimes I have to let people know it’s okay. I’m just telling you his name. I’m telling you his story. You can hug me, we’re gonna cry for a second, and then we’re gonna move on. We are multifaceted people. I’m okay being funny and then mourning my brother all in the same breath. I can be pissed at one thing and happy about everything else all in the same breath.”
This idea echoes in Weezee’s most recent full-length, Still Loading, produced by Jack “Tha Audio Unit” Burton and released in December. Throughout, the singer slides effortlessly between revealing jams on which she describes herself as a “pocketful of anxiety/belly full of nerves” (“Grace”) and chest-out, bullet-proof boasts such as the Nes Wordz tribute “YUH8,” which captures the manic energy of the late rapper’s sweat-inducing shows. In combination, these songs draw out a compelling, three-dimensional portrait of an artist embracing the idea that she's still learning as she goes – a concept Weezee credited to the growing realization that no one really ever puts it all together.
“You always think you figured it out, and then life,” she said, and laughed. “And then you have to move this way and figure something else out. And that’s what happened. Still loading, still figuring this thing called life out, even at 43.”
Weezee wrote and recorded the songs that make up Still Loading in her home studio, and that sense of being cocooned in a safe space reverberates in songs such as “Circles,” on which the singer absorbs hard life lessons. Fittingly, the track is followed by “Maybe,” a twinkling slow jam where these conflicts become fuel for finding a better way forward. “I’m trying to grow out here,” she sings. “I’m trying to glow out here.”
“Because I can wake up, go downstairs and record as I feel like it, I was able to do [songs] as they came,” said Weezee, who said these sessions sometimes yielded songs that cut too deep, leading her to hold tight to them like intensely private diary entries. “Music is definitely still therapy, so there were some things where in the end, I was like, ‘This is too personal. People do not need to know this.’ And I’m pretty transparent, so for me to be saying that, you know that it was too far.”
The pandemic also played a part in the mellower sound of Still Loading, with Weezee finding herself drawn toward Burton’s more spaced out, jazzy beats – the record’s more downtempo pace at times mirroring the cadence of life amid the coronavirus, when things for many people slowed to a crawl. “And it definitely slowed down for me, too,” Weezee said.
While Weezee’s music stems from a much different creative place than her comic work with Affirmative Distraction, she said that her association with the group has helped her learn to let go of some of those insecurities detailed in “Grace,” on which she sings about fumbling through life while “trying to look whatever normal is,” which is among the more relatable admissions I’ve heard on any album in recent years.
“I’ve always been open with how I write, but there’s more confidence now,” said Weezee, who initially believed she had written “Grace” as a means of addressing another person in her life. “But when I really took the time to sit with it, I realized I was talking to myself. … You know, sometimes you gotta check yourself, look in the mirror and get your own shit together.”