Based out of Los Angeles, Kacey Fassett is a trained jazz musician, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer. Having completed her studies at New York University, Kacey set about combining her knowledge with her love for all things indie-pop. The result is Kacey’s most recent offering, Drained Drama Queen, a seven-track EP reflecting on the difficulty of living alone in a world that during the global pandemic increasingly exists more online than in reality.
The record opens with DMs, a gloomy world of failed online romance, delivered via a soundtrack of meandering keys, gloomy bass synth and the surprisingly subtle tones of the saxophone. Elsewhere Crushed takes a brighter, more optimistic look at the same topic, with Kacey resisting the chase for fear of the consequences, “I think I’ll just love you from afar, don’t want this to fall apart, all of the time before, it was always worth when I knew more”. The music even ties back to DMs as the same saxophone, this time brighter and more playful takes the drum-machine led bedroom pop song out with a swagger. As well as a sense of romantic longing, the record is also rich in ideas of inertia and movement, West LA looking back wistfully while Thursday flips the focus to the boredom of feeling stuck in one place, be it emotionally or physically, with the ultimate pronouncement, “I’ll do anything to feel something”. That honesty drips into the closing track as well, which is an aural dose of isolation, “talking out loud, just to hear a sound, no ones around, all alone”, set to a bed of glacial 80s synths reminiscent of Patience or Mitski as it twists and spins as if Kacey is in the centre of her own, one woman dancefloor. At times Drained Drama Queen feels almost too close to the bone, a blow by blow account of living alone through a global pandemic, longing for connection and romance in a world that by design kept people apart, bruising yes, yet in its own honest way really rather beautiful.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Kacey Fassett?
Kacey Fassett is a singer songwriter, multiinstrumentalist, and self produced artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She writes music that tackles the dark and absurd aspects of life with inquisition and humor. Kacey grew up playing and studying jazz music while also harboring a love for pop music. The unique combination of these two musical influences is what makes her music compelling. Sophisticated harmony and improvisation are borrowed from Kacey’s jazz influence and her catchy melodies and thoughtful lyrics are born out of her love of pop.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
This solo project was born during the pandemic, so I do not have a Kacey Fassett show story, but I have played many live shows in my career as a jazz musician. I remember the first show I played original music on was at Silvana in Harlem back in 2018 when I lived in New York City. My roommate came and I was so nervous because she was a composer and a great musician. I remember playing my original tune and then ending the set with a Neko Case cover and being so worried I would sing out of tune because I never sang on gigs. Everything went great, though, and all the nerves were my own doing. Putting yourself out there can be very hard! I’m glad I have so much practice doing it now.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Music has always been the way I have expressed myself, so it just makes sense to me that I would create music myself one day. Although I love to read and appreciate other forms of art such as visual art and dance, those other art forms never connected with me in the same way. While literature holds a big place in my heart, music is the most natural form of expression to me personally.
FTR: What can people expect from the Kacey Fassett live show?
On a Kacey Fassett live show you can absolutely expect improvisation and musical exploration. Although my music classifies as pop, its roots are in jazz and I write the forms as such. While I only feature short solos on my studio recordings, the expectation to me is always that live those solo sections will be stretched out. I am a firm believer that a live show should be an expansion of the studio recording- not a verbatim remake.
FTR: What’s next for Kacey Fassett?
The next step for Kacey Fassett will be taking this pandemic project to the stage. Stay tuned for as that happens!
They Listen To…
The Japanese House – f a r a w a y
I never shut up about the Japanese House- you can ask any of my friends. Amber Bain is a musical and lyrical genius and I will never not be in awe of the music she makes. This song specifically exemplifies her ability to write beautiful catchy melodies with interesting and surprising harmony. Vocal layers and panning allow her to create huge soundscapes that are both insanely impressive and not overwhelming. However, even with all the stunning harmony and production in her music the lyrics are still what shine and that is what makes The Japanese House stand out above others for me. Regardless of the dozens of vocal layers and harmonies on this track, I still find myself singing the main melody, “She makes me wonder why, she makes me wonder what I’m doing”, long after the song has ended.
Mannequin Pussy – Control
Mannequin Pussy took me by storm. I started out loving the music then got deeper into the lyrics and became truly obsessed. This song specifically was my anthem this past year. Missy’s ability to sing with such warmth and softness and then immediately switch to belting and screaming is so unique and allows for such contrast in their music. The drop in this song is one of the best musical transitions I’ve ever heard and I will never not bang my head and belt along as Missy sings “I come undone”. I feel like I don’t hear enough women in music getting angry and singing about some of the more intense and painful female experiences we have, so I deeply appreciate and commend Missy for doing that.
Japanese Breakfast – Triple 7
Japanese Breakfast has gotten me through so many of my darkest times. Her ability to create beautiful music out of the most painful experiences is such a gift and something I hope to be able to do myself. This song, the last track on her debut album album Psychopomp, is so vulnerable, with music that matches the emotions of the lyrics perfectly. “Call out my name like something from the bottom of a well” Michelle sings, drenched in reverb as if she is calling out from the bottom of some metaphorical well herself. The lack of drums and heavy amounts of reverb create a flowing time feel that make this song feel more like a journal entry shouted into an abyss than like a song meant to be listened to for entertainment. Michelle is truly an artist who can write about any emotion in a way that makes you not only feel it yourself, but makes you feel like that song was written just for you and what you are going through- like a friend sharing a story to make you feel less alone.
Phoebe Bridgers – I Know The End
Phoebe Bridgers has taken the sad girl trope and added complexity to it. I love how she can write songs that sound so simple but have such a uniqueness to them both musically and lyrically. I also love that she is not afraid to write about both the specific and the mundane. This song, I Know The End, is such a great example of all of this. Musically the harmony and melody are not complex, but between unique guitar tunings and production choices, she creates such a different sound that belongs only to Phoebe Bridgers. The lyrics in this song also have that perfect blend of specific and general with lines such as “Man I hate this part of Texas” contrasting with lines like “When I get back I’ll lay around. I’ll get up then lay back down”. Phoebe is both an extremely individual artist sharing her own experiences while also giving us relatable music to help us through our own battles.
A.G. Cook – Being Harsh
A.G. Cook is such a loose cannon. One song of his can sound like club music and then the next can sound like this- a thoughtful guitar ballad. I absolutely love this about him and his music. He truly writes whatever he hears and explores whatever musical landscape he wants. This song specifically has had a chokehold on me since I first heard it over a year ago. Not only is the production unbelievable, as we would expect from Charli XCX’s producer, but the song itself is such a beautiful piece of music. A. G.’s lyrics are also so simple but so effective and caught me completely by surprise with their vulnerability. “I tried so hard to learn to say get out of my way”.
Drained Drama Queen is out now. For more information on Kacey Fassett visit https://kaceyfassett.com/.