It's hard to carve out a niche in the overcrowded music world, but THEESatisfaction has managed to craft its own distinct spot in the soundscape. The duo of Stasia "Stas" Irons and Catherine "Cat" Harris-White seamlessly blend rap and electronic R&B into an experimental cocktail that goes down smooth. In the landscape of the Seattle hip-hop scene, they're Shabazz Palaces's sonic soul sisters; still providing a trippy audio exploration, but offering a less spacey, more natural counterpoint that feels slightly more grounded in the terra firma of our planet. THEESatisfaction's sophomore Sub Pop LP EarthEE arrives today and further progresses the group's already progressive sound. The duo celebrates EarthEE this Thursday, February 26 with a record release show at Neumos featuring Gifted Gab and DJ Mursi Lane.
For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we chatted with Cat and Stas about EarthEE, dream collaborations, and baths.
What was the flow of the creative process for EarthEE? Were there things you were dead set on hitting thematically or stylistically, or was a more of a free form endeavor?
Stas: Naturally, what we try to do when we record anything is just go in there with an open mind. But, particularly with a second album, you kinda have to figure out if you want it to relate to the first album in any way or do you want it to be completely different. And I know we were listening to a lot of different things than we were on AwE NaturalE, but we wanted EarthEE to be related; maybe like a cousin or a younger brother/sister to Awe NaturalE.
What are your own favorite tracks on EarthEE?
Cat: I think it changes every other day or week. Some songs will stick with me and it will be my favorite song for the whole month, since we’ve had it (finished) for so long. I really like “Recognition” right now. “Nature's Candy” is one of my favorite songs, and (I love) how that hits, because that was a collaborative beat that Stas and I both worked on. And we really tried some different things within that song; taking it to different levels and playing with different kinds of sounds and ideas. What do you think, Stas?
Stas: I really like “No GMO,” because of how vibrant it sounds with Tay (Taylor Brown) playing the funky ass chords at the beginning. It really takes you immediately off the ground. I'm digging that one.
Yeah, I think that's my favorite as well.
Do you have any preshow or post-show routines?
Stas: Yeah. (Both laugh) I like to not have anything planned that day except the show. Just relax at home, maybe light some incense or take a bath. Have some inspirational music playing, I love playing Chaka Khan or D’Angelo before a show. Cat, what do you be doing?
Cat: Yeah, similar. Before a show just like stretching, warm-ups, just chill vibes, because we want to give it our all at that night and we know that we're going to. And then, post-show its kinda of the same thing. It’s like up and down a roller coaster, because I’ll go home and take a bath. I'll relax, I'll sleep super hard, and eat really good food. (Laughs)
Beyond THEESatisfaciton, you both keep busy with the Black Constellation artist collective and Black Weirdo and its community and parties. How would you assess the current state of those projects?
Cat: I feel like they are constantly changing and evolving. I mean Black Constellation is with Shabazz (Palaces), Erik Blood, and all these other great folks, we kinda of have this ongoing communication, but it's like we are all so distant and close to each other. We just kinda of develop things in different ways. So that’s interesting.
In terms of Black Wierdo, that’s such a larger community that involves so many different folks. It's interesting watching that work, ‘cause it’s more of an inspiration based community with freedom parties, I guess. (Laughs) Like when you’re really stressed out, you can go to a Black Weirdo party and kind of release all your fears and any stress you've been holding on to.
Are there any up-an-coming or overlooked local acts that you think people should check out?
Cat: It's like a revolving community. And I feel like they’re starting to get shine, so we don't keep saying the same people. (Laughs) But Gifted Gab, she's opening up for us. She's been getting a lot of shine. Always OC Notes. Chocolate Chuck. This new cat, Astro King Phoenix—who actually works with OC—he does some cool stuff. Oh, Khris P, he’s a producer. He's dope dope dope dope dope. He produces for thing group I'll Fight You.
Do you have any favorite concerts you've seen over the past year or so?
Stras: Cat, you’ve been to hella concerts. (Laughs)
Cat: My last year was crazy chock-full of concerts. I'll give you my top three. I would say Herbie Hancock, I saw him perform at the Oregon Symphony, Bootsy Collins, who I saw perform at Bumbershoot. He was freaking killer. And then Stevie Wonder, with the Songs in the Key of Life tour. That was like four hours of magical insanity.
Now that EarthEE is out there, what are your goals going forward?
Stas: A personal goal is to touch more places on tour. I know we're going back to Europe, and we went to China last year, but I would love to get into Africa, more into Eastern Europe, more Asian countries. And also Hawaii. I've never been to Hawaii.
Cat: I would say the same thing. That, and doing more dream shows and more dream collaborations. Like working with Michelle Ndegeocello has been a dream. Working with Shabazz has been a dream. But we’d like to continue: to work with Erykah Badu, work with D'Angelo, work with Prince, work with Herbie Hancock, and people we really look up to. And just to keep evolving as a group.
THEESatisfaction: EarthEE Album Release Show
Feb 26 at 9, Neumos, $12