Queens On QueenS: An Intimate Conversation With THEESatisfaction
The hottest things in any room they enter, Sub Pop signees THEESatisfaction stopped by to bright up the Okayplayer office recently while in Brooklyn shooting a short film directed by dream hampton to accompany the awE-inspiring groove of the song called “QueenS,” the first single from their awE NaturalE LP (out now). Rappers/singers/orators/girlfriends Stas & Cat chopped it up with OKP about topics ranging from the all-female shoot to their creative process and the influence of Parliament, The Slits and E.S.G. and their Seattle roots from Starbucks to Shabazz Palaces. Read on for the full experiencE.
Okayplayer: So you just came from the [“QueenS” video] shoot with dream hampton, correct? How was it?
Cat: It was amazing. dream’s real cool people and everybody was there. It was just really cool. We did a casting of like 20 girls. We asked some of our homegirls to be in it and people travelled from Toronto/L.A./Philly/Seattle to come out. And then there were some local girls too.
OKP: I’m assuming you guys hooked up with dream through Ishmael [of Shabazz Palaces] or how did that come about?
C: Yeah, we first met dream when we did a show with Shabazz at the Planetarium a couple of years ago. When was that?
C: Yeah, the fall of 2010. So that’s when we first met. But then we kept in contact ever since.
OKP: So let me rewind a little bit… Since the Shabazz Palaces cameo people–at least the people in my world are kind of talking about you as new artists. But you guys have been doing your thing in Seattle for a while now, right?
C: Yeah, since 2008.
OKP: So tell us how you guys linked up, give me the backstory of THEESatisfaction.
S: We met in college in 2006 or 2005 and started dating and exchanging music. We both have kind of similar-accenting tastes in music. She was more into jazz and funk and house and I was more into old school hip-hop and soul and gospel, so we would exchange music. She was in several bands and groups. We were in a group together that was like a six-piece hip-hop act. [Laughs]
C: Right. 3 vocalists – it was ridiculous.
OKP: What was the name of that group?
S: It was called Question. We didn’t record anything. We were just a cover band.
S: That was just for fun, during college. And then after that we just started doing our own thing and got involved with making beats on Reason and other computer programs, beat machines and stuff. We got a couple of open mic shows and then shows started coming in more and more when people started hearing about us and we got opportunities to do our thing.
C: Yeah, we would just hit up all the people we knew and send them emails. We had shows before we even came out with our first mixtape. We would just be like: “Do you like this song? Do you not like this? I don’t know?” And we just kept getting shows and kept working at it until it became all we did. We were thinking about it when we were at work. We were fucking off at work and making songs instead.
OKP: Where were you working?
S: We worked at Starbucks at first and then started working at Costco.
OKP: And you were both working at the same place?
S & C: Oh yeah. [Laugh]
OKP: So you were really fucking up, then.
C: Yeah, we were not doing NO work. [Laughs]
S: And then we just got involved with all the people that were doing hip-hop in Seattle. There were a bunch of starting-up groups in like 2008-2009. We just got in and did our thing, met some people, hung out and recorded some collaborations and shit. We linked up with Shabazz shortly after that.
OKP: Just through doing live shows and the general Seattle connection?
C: We had a lot of mutual friends. Like one of our good friends, Larry Mizell Jr.–who was the one who was really making sure that we started doing shows and stuff and was really helping us out. When we met Ish and Tendai we had always crossed each other’s paths but never really knew each other but we had a bunch of friends who knew the other people and then one day it all connected.
OKP: And with Larry Mizell Jr., I’m assuming he is related to [famed instrumentalists and producers] the Mizell Brothers…
C: Yeah, those are his dad and uncle. Jam Master Jay was his cousin.
OKP: So did your relationship with Sub Pop come about through that Shabazz Palaces relationship? Or did you get on the Shabazz Palaces record because you were already labelmates?
S: It was all at the same time really. Cause we have the same manager and he had a relationship with Sub Pop. And we also had a relationship with Sub Pop before we met our manager and Shabazz. We were involved in this MTV…
C: …docudrama. [Laughs]
S: Sub Pop was a label that was involved in it too. But yeah, I mean when it all came down, it just all worked out really well.
OKP: So what’s your experience with Sub Pop been like? Not that they’re not doing other hip-hop stuff but they – and Seattle – have such a brand for grunge and all this other stuff. What’s their attitude towards what you guys do been like?