Affectionately is the project of Californian artist and Jay Som collaborator Zachary Elsasser. Formed in 2015 and coming together upon the disbanding of his band Summer Peaks, the intervening years saw Elsasser battling with insecurity and self-doubt, and these feelings are poured into his debut album ‘i spend most of my time in my room’.
It’s an apt title for the record – created through GarageBand on a phone with one single microphone, and honed while touring as the drummer in Jay Som’s band, the rawness of the songs are transmitted through bare-bones production that allows their vulnerability to shine. “Emotions are not high-budget,” Elsasser says. “Emotions are uniquely raw and seemingly unrefined but they capture the essence of what it means to be.”
‘i spend most of my time in my room’ aims to capture the purity of these feelings, often sticking with demos and first takes as final versions in order to translate the fresh rawness of the experiences that informed the album. The album is the culmination of years of work, with the songs going through multiple versions, but when it came to laying them down for good, Elsasser felt he “had to release it this way. I think this is the only way it makes sense, and it’s the only way i can show the true value of these songs.”
Bedroom pop songs that slowly, carefully expand into something more fleshed-out, the album flirts with indie, psych-pop and folk, but never detracts from the pureness at its core. The album’s opener, ‘first song’, lays out the simplicity of love, and being present and in the moment. “The song helps remind me that being present helps ease anxiety,” Elsasser lays out. “You take it one moment at a time.”
This idea of slow, steady rebuilding comes to the fore on ‘when i move on’, a track about “how I want to treat myself in the future. I feel like i’ve stuck doing the same thing for a while,” Elsasser says, “living at my parents, being on tour. When i move on from that, I want to be better. I want to do things for myself; I want to treat myself better. I’m making bold promises that I want to uphold in the future to be less “in my head” about everything. I’ve spent a lot of my life hidden away in my room being independent. I want to be out there with everyone else. I really just want to be free from my own insecurities.”
Elsasser sees the album as “the day I move away from my home,” and it serves as a rumination on an isolated period of his life. Written and recorded in the same bedroom he sings of wanting to escape so badly, its creation has allowed significant demons to be put to bed, and for him to slowly emerge as a new person. The care, openness and vulnerability that it’s been created with, and that penetrates every note, makes the album also serve as a guide to others trying to break free of the past.
“I need some honesty, like it or not,” he sings on ‘prettiest part of me’, a Wilco-esque highlight that’s the album’s poppiest moment, and the music of Affectionately shows that, sometimes, you need to stare adversity in the face in order to move forwards.
The album’s closing track, ‘bed, room, waltz’, is, Elsasser says, “the song that puts you to sleep. It’s the song helps me know that I’m comfortable and happy with everything that happened; I can finally move on.”