Interview THEESatisfaction: ‘We’re Dealing With The Consequences Of Being Different’

DIY catches up with Cat to talk about the LP, Shabazz Palaces and their inimitable ‘groove’.

In a hip hop sphere cornered by depressive minimalism, death fanaticism and unfunny misogyny, Seattle duo THEESatisfaction’s distinctively happy, urbane blend of hip hop comes as a veritable breath of fresh air. Indeed, debut album awE naturalE – out on Sub Pop this week – is a groovy, spit-shined treasure that’ll inevitably soundtrack your summer. DIY caught up with Cat, one half of the duo, on all-important album release day to talk about the LP, Shabazz Palaces and their inimitable ‘groove’.

Where are you right now?

How’s the tour going?
It’s going really well. Right now we’re on a break. All the shows have been great. They’re all really exciting because not singing or rapping in French. It’s interesting to see how the audience takes it.

Your album is out in the UK this week. Do you feel like it’s been a long time coming?
Yeah. We’ve been working on it since when we first started the group back in 2008. It’s cool because we’ve at last got the final draft and to see the physical copy is really exciting.

You two grew up in completely different areas: you in Hawaii, and Stas in Tacoma. Do you think this initial geographical separation influenced your music in any way?
Yes, I definitely think it played a part in the kind of people we are. I think we only complement each other for that reason, because these are places people wouldn’t even expect to be from. We both moved to Seattle at about the same time, and even in Seattle, people wouldn’t expect us to be from there. There were a lot of different kinds of music that we were exposed to in those places. Being an islander, there were only certain kinds of music I had access to; I was into Asian Pacific Islander music, as well as African music and jazz, growing up. Stas was into Gospel and Gangster music, based on her area and where her family’s from. So it definitely had an impact on what we listen to. Then we came together and mixed it all up.

You’ve been recording music for a few years now, releasing mixtapes on Bandcamp. How important do you think platforms such as Bandcamp are to bands nowadays?
I think they’re very important. In the world we’re living in right now, with technology and everything, the internet has really changed the way that music’s perceived. You can put up a free download the same week that a single drops. Before, that wasn’t an option. You had a single and on one side would be the regular three-minute version and on the other side would be a five-minute remix by someone, and like three versions of a remix, you know. But now, you can put out a single and then download on it the same day. Bandcamp also means that you don’t necessarily need to be affiliated with a record label to have a place to download music, you know. With Bandcamp and Paypal, you’re kind of managing yourself. It gives people more opportunities.

You create all the beats yourselves, right?
Yeah, we make all of our own beats, write our own lyrics and everything.

Do you have a favourite tune on the new record?
At the moment, ‘Deeper’. I love performing that one live.

Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces has collaborated with you on a number of occasions, including on ‘awE naturalE’. How did you two get to know him?
We’ve been mutual friends for a long time. We know a lot of the same people and run in the same circles as him, so we met him a couple of years ago and we just wanted to work on some projects together, so that was really exciting, especially considering we were big fans of Digable [Planets] and Shabazz Palaces. It just came together really naturally and it was cool how it all came together because we really admired him.

Dancing seems to be an integral part of your live show and on ‘QueenS’ you say ‘whatever you do, don’t funk with my groove’. Would you say grooving is essential to your music?
Oh yeah, I mean, whenever we put together an album, or any of the mixtapes or instrumentals, it’s more important that the groove is there rather than having a tempo or having someone appear or anything. It’s more about having a good vibration and a good groove that just leads you on a path somewhere. It’s something which encourages a musical journey. That’s very important to us. This isn’t just a rap song, this is a disco.

What other plans do you have for this year?
We’re on tour in Europe till 25th April. Then we go back to Washington and have a show. Then in May it’s Sasquatch. We’re supposed to come back some time during the summer to Europe. We’re also going to do a little East Coast and West Coast tour in the US. So, we’re going to be touring a lot, until like September.

Finally – you call yourselves the Queens Of The Stoned Age. Why?
Well, it’s just a play on words. It’s kinda like we’re coming full-circle into the world. People used to get stoned for being different and we’re just different, you know, so we’re dealing with the consequences of being different, but we’re embracing it. There are some other connotations to it as well.

THEESatisfaction’s debut album ‘awE naturalE’ is out now via Sub Pop.

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