“You come to realize how capable of love you are in losing someone,” Michi Tassey tells me through the surrounding loud chatter inside In House Café in Allston. We’re bundled up on New Year’s Day thanks to the below zero windchill outside, escaping to the heat emanating from the brunch plates of groups of friends scattered around us. Tassey can be seen fronting jazz pop outfit People Like You most days of the year and just finished a tour with fellow Topshelf Records label mates Prawn, Slingshot Dakota, Queen Moo, and Us and Us Only. Foreclosure is her first release as Nature Shots, a project that began slowly over five years ago. Although the similarities between her two acts aren’t outwardly apparent, her songwriting typically begins in the same way. 2017’s Verse even shares a song with Foreclosure, “Josephine Ave,” but this version seems darker somehow. A song that once evoked a feeling of power with poppy guitar riffs, quick hi-hat beats, and the rhythm of a trumpet, now shows desperation when stripped to its core, a theme ever present on Foreclosure.
“A lot of people who are told that God exists in one point in their life but don’t really ‘do that thing’ will still pray in times of crisis because it’s the last hope. It’s the last thing that could maybe make things better when nothing else is working. In this album, there’s a theme of faith per desperation from my perspective at least.”
There are themes of faith throughout Foreclosure especially on standout tracks like “a prayer; begging” and “three,” but Michi Tassey doesn’t necessarily mean them in the traditional church-attending way. It’s how we use faith in times of desperation and how we can find comfort in “a warm energy that understands your pain.” The album itself sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned church, but it was in fact recorded in Philadelphia with Cameron Boucher (Sorority Noise) at his studio called The Metal Shop he runs with Jake Ewald and Ian Farmer of Modern Baseball. Tassey and Boucher have been friends for a long time, so it was an easy choice as to help produce and record the album. The process was by no means luxurious, but it felt right. “We went with things that felt right in the moment… We were pushing for emotion and building sounds around that.” Grouper is an easy comparison for the album’s intentional production choices to build soundscapes, and Tassey says a lot of the songs developed further in the studio including this tidbit on “josephine ave”
“There’s a song where there’s this rhythmic bassy sound. We literally found a chain and were dropping [it] on a hard case, put a ton of reverb on it, and cranked up the low end to make it sound, [well] I don’t know what it sounds like to other ears, but it’s a sound.”
It’s not very often that the title of an album perfectly encompasses the emotional wreckage experienced by the listener in a clever but also literal way. On discussing the title of Foreclosure, Michi tricked me into giving her my impression of it. To say I was off, was an understatement, but that’s the beauty of this album. “I chose that title because of the idea of being robbed of your home, being forced to give away the body you live inside of unexpectedly or not at the right time. That’s kind of the broader theme of it.” There is also the literal aspect of using the album as a means of closure. What Tassey got out of writing and recording these songs was a way to immortalize the experience of losing someone close to you and dive truly deep into grief and how we deal with it while it’s happening. What I got out of it was a feeling of catharsis and an escape from grief. Foreclosure is very much for Michi Tassey as it is for its listeners, a way to process and reimagine grief in your own way to heal.
Stream Foreclosure here. It is out physically on January 19.
Music written by Michi Tassey (Nature Shots)
Produced, recorded, engineered, and mixed by Cameron Boucher
Mastered by Zach Weeks
Album art by Suma Hussien
There will be an album release show on January 27, 2018 with Nature Shots (obviously), Anjimile, NOVA ONE, and Animal Flag (solo) For details, please message one of the bands.