SATE says her musical career began while “rolling around in the womb.” Her mother, Salome Bey, was known as “Canada’s First Lady of Blues.” Her uncle, aunt, and cousins were also all singers or musicians. Maybe it’s this family legacy that constructs at least a portion of the confidence SATE exudes when she’s talking about her work. It’s in her blood. But the rest of that confidence? That’s all her.
Over a drink in Williamsburg–she drinks gin with a sidecar of lemon juice–SATE and I talked about her spirit animals, connection with her fans (she replies personally to each Facebook comment) and being bold for other women.
What did you listen to when you were younger being from such a musical house? Has it evolved as you’ve gotten older?
I think it's all actually informed what I do now. I really listen to anything and everything that moves me. But I definitely gravitated towards more passionate, edgy, energetic, raw, soulful stuff. Soul, excluding the genre and including the genre.
Your mother, Salome Bey, was a well known singer. How was growing up around that kind of a figure?
She was definitely nurturing. She had a huge understanding of music and I watched her a lot. We had lots of records, I sat by her while she wrote songs, did plays, and at club shows. Wherever else that I could be there, I was there watching.
You have three digital EPs, Red, Black, Blue, and one full length album created from those EPs. How did that happen?
They were named after the three colors of my totem animals: the red robin, the black panther, and the blue butterfly. They were exclusively for the pledgers. I did a crowdfunding campaign through PledgeMusic and I told all of the pledgers, “It's a journey, let’s make this album together.” If people are buying into it, and I’m making a body of work. Why not? When you actually get a chance to be on an eye-to-eye level with somebody who's supporting and loving what you do, that totally boosts me for creating more. We’re human beings and we connect through energy. That human connection is the beauty of this industry right now.
When did you start calling your fans warriors?
Just recently. I have a song called "Warrior” and that song, in particular, I wrote for myself, but also for people to find the spark and passion inside to do the things they really love to do. I was thinking of things to call people. Fans? Whatever. Warriors? It's like fire, passion. I just put up on my Instagram that I’m a “passion pusher.”
Your song, "What Did I Do,” begins soft but ends up very unexpected and chaotic. The music video really depicts that.
Actually, it's weird coming to New York. There are a lot of people that are dealing with demons and with things on a daily basis. I’ve been observing that a lot, I've always seen it but it's actually hitting me in a different way this time around. So the song is asking: How do we speak those demons out of us? What are the questions we ask? What are the things we're all dealing with? And to ask, "What did I do that's so bad to be dealing with this?"
Aside from my totem animals, the subject matters of the album are my relationships with my mother, sister, and daughter. That particular song was about my sister and I being estranged for a while. That was my question to her, to myself while I was in that, "What the fuck did I do? Where are you?" It expands beyond that, beyond sister bond, or a lack thereof. Just the why.
Spirit animals, tell me more about that. Have you always had them?
They are animals that swirl around me. I gravitate towards them. I get happy in the spring when I see robins. I mean really happy. Maybe a few years ago I was thinking about butterflies and how they made me happy and I started thinking, that goes pretty far back. Panthers–that was my first tattoo ever and I really loved the mystery of the black panther and the uniqueness of it. It can either be a jaguar or leopard, it's just black. they actually have spots and it depends if they have leopard spots or jaguar spots.
In making this album, I love concepts and being creative and being just really cerebral. I had to bring it down. My manager was like, “You gotta bring it down.” When I was researching them and bringing it all together, the energy going through all of them was rebirth and embracing all aspects of self and letting go of a lot of stuff. I think that's definitely what I needed to make this music and to move on to another stage of my life.
SATE, isn’t your real name, did you officially change it?
This is my artist name. It’s about evolution, letting go, reflecting, growth, rebirth. It was time for newness. I won't say it's an alter ego but I guess it's something I can put on and take off.
It’s very simple but definitely a statement.
Exactly, it’s to satiate, to satisfy and however you want to be satisfied. There are so many ways and I’m all about so many ways.
The first time I heard your music, I think it was the “Know My Name” music video, I thought it was a little abrasive at first, but then the more you listen the more satisfying, the juicier it is.
I like that! Juicy. Alright. I'll take it.
I hate asking this question but I feel like it still needs to be addressed. What is it like being a woman in this industry? especially the rock and roll scene?
It's challenging. I feel like our voices don't want to be heard or certain people think there only needs to be one per 20 guys. You know? Because Lord knows you don't want a woman to speak up for herself or speak too loudly or aggressively like she doesn't have that same story or frustrations or same voice. It's actually not the same voice, it's how we say it. It's our voice. We run the gamut of the stories we tell and we should be able to tell them however we want to tell them and get just as much exposure telling them. Because it empowers other women to be able to speak their stories with their voices.
that’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you. Not only your sound is refreshing, but the empowering way that you do it.
I get on stage and I like to see how much more free I can be. I literally like to spread my legs and get low. That's what I do. I like it, it feels powerful and sexy to me. I’ve had so many women go, “I would love to do what you do.” It's just for us to continue in our own boldness whoever we are whatever we’re doing and to continue doing that so it's a norm so it's not, "I would love to do that.” It's more like, "Here we are, this is how we do it, this is what we do.”
In a lot of your music, you’re still talking about your demons, negative experiences, relationships but it's in this powering positive way that's still talking about it.
For me, it's an honest place to be and say, “I don't know what I'm going to do if you try to crack me. I don't know if you can handle my pain or anger or my sorrow. So just like give me space. Or else.” That’s life.
Yep. That's heavy.
Let’s drink. Cheers!