Being a black weirdo can have its advantages. Just ask THEESatisfaction, a soul/hip-hop group that consists of two of them.
Stasia “Stas” Iron, 27, and Catherine “Cat” Harris-White, 26, are the two Seattle-based MCs/vocalists who form the group, which on paper resembles that U.K. neo-soul duo Floetry – but for kombucha drinkers. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that one,” says Iron, over the phone in a call with Harris-White from Seattle. “That’s cool.”
For those who have listened to their music (especially on “awE naturalE,” their full-length debut that was released on Sub Pop Records last year), with their Afro-futuristic sounds captured in very brief compositions, their music may be reminiscent of the work created by that fellow West Coast eccentric, Georgia Anne Muldrow.
“I mean, we’ve been compared to Georgia a lot of the time, and we’re actually, like, really, really, really big fans,” says Iron. The pair even performed with Muldrow at a show in Miami.
“I mean, I’m glad that you can hear that because we’re very inspired by her work, and we really like what she’s doing. That’s quite the compliment.”
The two ladies originally got together while they were going to different colleges in Seattle, performing at open-mic nights. “We were always just making different kinds of music and just making up stuff, you know,” says Iron. “And, then, we were just like, ‘Let’s see what’s going on. Like, let’s record some stuff and take this down another path.’ And we just decided to form our group.”
The pair has been dropping mix tapes since the late aughts. “We just always, like, put out little projects because we’re always making music and always creating different ideas and different sounds,” says Iron.
They’ve even released what they call “appreciation mixtapes,” with titles like “THEESatisfaction Loves Erykah Badu” and “THEESatisfaction Loves Anita Baker.”
“We really appreciate those artists, you know, and they inspired us to do that,” says Iron, who says they have gotten feedback from a few of the other artists they’ve saluted.
“We haven’t heard from Stevie Wonder,” says Iron, laughing. “That would be awesome.”
As for how they create their music, they admit it’s mostly inspired from the music of their youth.
“We pull from everything,” says Harris-White. “I remember, growing up, I listened to a lot of gospel and gangsta rap, and Stas grew up listening to a lot of funk and technotronic dance music and things like that. And, then, when we met each other, we were listening to a lot of neo-soul and jazz and ’90s hip-hop, like A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets and things like that. So, I think for this first album, that’s all in there.”
They also insist on letting the inspiration come to them.
“We let ourselves be very open when writing or when composing or producing or anything,” says Iron. “Like, we allow ourselves to be very open to feeling whatever there is to be felt.”
The ladies are currently out on the road with former Digable Planets member (and fellow Seattle resident/Sub Pop label mate) Ishmael Butler, who now headlines the alt-hip-hop collective Shabazz Palaces. Considering who Iron and Harris-White are, they hope that audiences are as open-minded as the pair is musically.
“Well, growing up, me and Kat, black queer women – I mean, we recognize we were queer at very young ages,” says Iron. “I mean, we definitely related to artists like Sun-Ra, OutKast, Erykah Badu – people who aren’t necessarily understood first. But then you grow to know that they’re humans and they’re people as well.”
Mostly, THEESatisfaction are enjoying their time on the road, meeting with fellow black weirdos and seeing if their new friends have got what it takes to be nominated for the “Black Weirdo of the Week” section on their website.
“We just recognize and try to relate to other people,” says Iron. “I mean, there are black weirdos all over the planet – and we’re trying to connect with all of them.”