THEESatisfaction on EarthEE's NYC Connection, Broad City Love & Sleater-Kinney
Stasia "Stas" Irons and Catherine "Cat" Harris-White of THEESatisfaction
Photo by King Texas, courtesy of Sub Pop
When the title track from their latest release, EarthEE, dropped last month, one of THEESatisfaction's biggest fans immediately hit social media and freaked out in a fit of joy. That in itself isn't a huge deal — fans get excited and break out the affectionate hashtags like nobody's business when there's a new song to get riled up about, whatever — but this fan was a pretty damn famous one. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson of Broad City have had the alterna-soul and new r&b act on blast ever since both duos were involved with a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in the city a few months ago. THEESatisfaction were doing a DJ set, Glazer and Jacobson were speaking, and Stasia "Stas" Irons and Catherine "Cat" Harris-White felt an immediate kinship with the funny gals. They reached out on Twitter, and boom: Social media was used for good for a change.
"We were like, 'We just wanna smoke out with Abbi and Ilana!' " laughs Cat, recalling their early correspondence. "They were just like, 'Yeah! We love you guys!' We were like, 'What?!' Turns out we had been fans of each other for a while, and then we met and it was just super dope. Those ladies are killing it. It's a nice friendship to hold."
Hopefully, the Broad City broads will make an appearance at Santos Party House on March 6, at which time they can lose their minds to the complex, intergalactic groove of "EarthEE" in person.
In terms of context, inspiration, and execution, EarthEE is markedly different from THEESatisfaction's 2012 debut, awE naturalE, though it still features smooth, inventive jams that incorporate spoken-word, hip-hop, electronic dance music, and soul in some cosmic combination. "With songwriting, we just wanted to be free with it and not necessarily get locked into verse, chorus, verse, chorus, you know," says Stas. "We have a lot of chants and a lot of meditative ways of writing songs for this record."
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EarthEE is the product of a duo that's now split between two cities, with Stas a full-time Brooklyn resident (she's been here for about two years now) and Cat holding it down in Seattle, the city THEESatisfaction first called home. The Brooklyn connection had long since been established for Stas and Cat — of their hugely successful Black Weirdo parties, the first one they threw was in Brooklyn in 2012 — but EarthEE is the first definitively New York–inspired output from them. In particular, the beats and exclamations Stas encountered on New York City's streets left an imprint on her contributions to EarthEE.
"Writing on the train a lot, I was thinking of a lot of different sounds and conversations and things," says Stas. "I know when we did 'Post Black, Anyway,' after it was finished, we were listening to it separately, and I was writing on the train [while listening]. I cut off and I heard a saxophone player when the song was on, and I was like, 'Yo, we need to put a sax player on this song!' The sounds and sights of New York influenced the record."
And while Stas and Cat welcomed the city's embrace on EarthEE, they also extended themselves further into the benevolent clutches of collaboration. Sub Pop labelmates Shabazz Palaces make a number of cameos on EarthEE, namely on the ethereal "Recognition," and Taylor Brown and Meshell Ndegeocello lend their talents to tracks as well. They've also added to their live setup: A full band, Columbia Nights, will be joining them at Santos Party House, as will DJ Mursi Layne, who's now a regular fixture in the THEESatisfaction stage experience.
"It gives us more time to improvise and go up there and not have the show so fixed," says Stas of the new arrangement. "It's been a lot easier and more fun. We're definitely trying new things out and figuring out how we want to continue on with building our band."
Following their release show in NYC, Stas and Cat will be heading to South by Southwest and then out on a twenty-date run with Sleater-Kinney. They make for ideal road buddies, even if Sleater-Kinney's roaring punk and the Zen-trified verses of THEESatisfaction sound like unlikely bedfellows to the untrained ear.
"We're all pretty much supportive of women in the arts and stuff like that, and pretty bold in the way we do it," says Cat, who's thrilled to be touring with Corin, Carrie, and Janet. "I think we have similar vibes. I feel like a lot of their fans were like, 'Oh my goodness, when are you going on tour with Sleater-Kinney?!' before any of this stuff. It's been an interesting thing. We have this energy, just wanting to rock out, so I think it'll fit well."
The only thing that could make a THEESatisfaction/Sleater-Kinney gig better would be if Abbi and Ilana were to somehow come galloping in from the wings while dancing their faces off during both sets. But hey: Given the amount of love they've got for each other and the excitement they generate with the drop of each new track, it could happen.
THEESatisfaction will celebrate the release of EarthEE at Santos Party House with Moruf on March 6. Tickets available here.
See also: Ten Steps To Shabazz Palaces: Tracing Ishmael Butler's Path Between Digable Planets And The Present Six Sleater-Kinney Songs to Hear If You Think You Don't Like Sleater-Kinney The 50 Most NYC Albums Ever
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