“I discovered that I’m not as weak as I thought I was,” says Lalin St. Juste. We’re discussing what she has learned, about herself, through making music. “Music has made me feel super powerful and super expressive.”
St. Juste is the lead vocalist of Bay Area future-soul-funk band the Seshen and, more recently, she has also started creating solo music to provide another avenue for her musical expression.
St. Juste has a graceful elegance about her, which generates a flourishing sense of spirituality. Her eyes sparkle when we speak about the beauty of the Black experience in America. They soften and overflow with empathetic pain when we touch on the struggles of many Black Americans face. “A part of dealing with being in this society is getting over the fact that you’ve been cut down,” she says. “Certain types of oppression have rested their head on me in the way that I feel silenced or weak or not important. And yet, being able to be expressive like this allows me to actually see what’s really the truth. And unlearn the things, the negative things, that impacted me,” she says.
The unlearning St. Juste speaks about has been echoed across the African Diaspora, in America and the Western world, with the uprising and revitalisation of cultural movements such as Afrofuturism. St. Juste describes Afrofuturism as “The assertion of ourselves, in our own narratives, and creating…new storylines for us to develop,” and the Seshen, with their neoteric take on soul-funk music, provide a Northern Californian take on the genre.
“It’s non-linear, and that’s what’s so cool about it. It connects us also to this long history…like being connected to the cosmos, and Egypt, and how we built the pyramids,” she explains while also expressing her love for the fantasy and science-fiction elements of Afrofuturism, many of which were captured in Ryan Coogler’s movie, Black Panther.
St. Juste goes on to explain how these themes are central to the music she makes. “I have a very strong connection to my lineage and to my community,” reveals St. Juste. “The Seshen and my solo work reflect a lot of my journey around understanding who I am. Processing. Healing from the disconnect around being who I am