AwE naturalE the debut record from THEESatisfaction is a game-changer. It’s an album indebted to the soulful hip hop of the ’90s; futuristic themes from a feminist stance melting funk and psychedelia with pop melodies and cutting rhymes. It’s a record, not running away from troubles, but embracing them. Killing them with love.
Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White make up THEESatisfaction, a self-produced, and self-described, “lo-fi rebel hip-hop” duo from Seattle. The pair live in a world of sci-fi soul, their songs orbiting around death, blackness, outer space and sexuality. aweE naturalE is in fact their sixth record, but their first properly released.
Their previous recordings were tape and Bandcamp releases but, following Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction are just the second hip-hop act to sign to Sub Pop, a largely indie-rock label. The girls weren’t wary though, more excited. “We enjoy breaking barriers and becoming pioneers. Sub Pop has exceptional taste in music. We were more than happy to partner with them,” Stas explains, “We started making music in 2008 using basic computer programs that we had access to. We kept learning different ways to manipulate sound. People started picking up on the frequencies. Signing to Sub Pop gave us a broader audience and support in areas where we lacked experience. We still produce our music.”
Cat and Stas have distinct roles to their musical partnership. For Cat it is “songwriting, jazz stylings and funk vocabulary”, where Stas brings “American literature, gangster leanings and orgasmic rhythms.” aweE naturalE shines with retro soul, old funk and ‘90s hip hop but it’s certainly not genre specific. Stas agrees, “We love when an artist is able to live outside of the genres.” Cat lists their current listening as Gang Starr, Big L, Danny Brown, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Souls of Mischief, George Duke, Leon Ware, The Sylvers and Heatwave.
From their new Sub Pop family, THEESatisfaction have love for Spoek Mathambo, Debo Band, Shabazz, The Dum Dum Girls and Sera Cahoone. They’ve been kicking with Shabazz Palaces for a while, singing on album highlight ‘Swerve’ from the tremendous Black Up LP, it might have been their real debut outside the local Seattle scene. MC Palaceer Lazaro returns the favour and drops a verse on the hypnotic ‘Enchantruss’. “We are constantly learning and growing with Shabazz Palaces. I wouldn’t place any piece of knowledge higher than the next,” says Stas before Cat expresses interest in working with Little Dragon, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Esperanza Spalding.
Live, THEESatisfaction dance often; “whenever the rhythm is good.” Their music emanates empowerment and energy. Lyrically, it’s vivid and inspiring. When it comes to black poets, THEESatisfaction look to Marcus Garvey, Nikki Giovanni, Octavia Butler, Q-Tip, Malcolm X and Angela Davis. Their song ‘Deeper’ is the most brooding on the record, sounding like the Erykah Badu / Massive Attack collaboration that never happened, with the line “My melanin is relevant” – a creative way to say “Black Power” in a 2012 coded language. Mostly they radiate positivity.
The first and only word of ‘awE’ is “Yeah”, creating a feel good opener to the LP. “Music can be a form of escapism. I’m sure we discuss that in some of our songs. I think music can alter your emotions depending on your relationship with the song or genre,” explains Stas. Sashaying to the groove of ‘QueenS’ you’ve no choice but to “Leave your face at the door / turn off your swag / check your bag.” Instructions for Thursday night.
THEESatisfaction will play Twisted Pepper on April 19th – tickets are €11.75 available from Ticketmaster, doors at 8.00pm.