interview: sate speaks on her inner warrior and why she will continue to fight for her voice to be heard
By Sound Check
May 26, 2016
Hailing from Toronto, CA, blues-rock singer SATE is busy preparing for the release of her forthcoming album, RedBlack&Blue, out next month. SATE (formerly known as Saidah Baba Talibah) is known for her impassioned spirit, unapologetically fierce sexuality and high energy performances. On August 27th, the phenomenal funkstress will be taking to the AFROPUNK Fest stage to rock the crowds. AFROPUNK.com speaks to SATE about her musical journey.
By Ayara Pommells, AFROPUNK contributor
AP: Did you always know that you wanted to be a musician – if so, how?
SATE: Yeah, I did. The rush and joy is addictive. Singing and performing is life-giving. The conversation between me and the audience is something I could never imagine in any other profession, plus much of my family (my uncle Andy Bey and cousins Aisha de Haas and Darius de Haas) are incredible singer/performers who’ve nurtured, supported and inspired me to be a musician.
AP: Besides Bessie Smith, who inspired “Warrior”, which other female artists would you say were/are heavily influential to your sound?
SATE: The blues woman and the spirit of the blues woman heavily influenced me and my sound, and that all started with my mother, Salome Bey. She introduced me to Ma Rainey, Big Mama Thornton, Ethel Waters and Billie Holiday. I then found Tina Turner, Betty Davis, Chaka Khan, LaBelle, Minnie Riperton, and recently Lucille Bogan. And there are so many contemporary female artists that inspire me as well, like Nikki Hill, Tamar-kali, Kayla from Bleed The Pigs, Skin from Skunk Anansie, Deap Vally, Dorothy, Juliette and The Licks, Res, etc.;
AP: Do you feel that black, female rock artists are overlooked or even perhaps seen as a little intimidating?
SATE: Yes and yes. There’s an expectation for women to be soft, period. And then as black people, we’re overlooked in the rock world, cause it’s still a white boys club. So I’ve got two strikes against me. I mean, I turn on rock radio and hear people like Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats singing “Son Of A Bitch,” and put mine or a black woman’s voice on that and it’s a soul song and it’s not played on soul stations because it doesn’t fit, and it’s just too aggressive. I sound like a broken record when I say, rock & roll started with black people. This is part of me. Why am I fighting to belong — for fuck’s sake?
AP: “Know My Name” is a pre-fight mantra. What is it about day-to-day life that keeps you prepared for war/to fight?
SATE: Oh god, yeah, “Know My Name” is a pre-fight mantra. A warning. I’m a mama bear to my life, my music, and based on what life has dished out and continues to dish out, based on my life goal of reaching the world with my music regardless of who gets in my way, I’d say THAT’S what keep me ready to fight. It’s my drive, it’s me walking into and claiming what is rightfully mine.
AP: Azealia Banks was recently suspended from Twitter after going on a “racially insensitive rant.” Although many agree her tirade was unwarranted, do you feel strong black women are often silenced even when expressing valid points/opinions?
SATE: Absolutely, as a black woman, I find that I have to check myself before I say something for fear of being perceived as angry or too strong and fear of the backlash that may ensue. Yeah, there’s support (depending on what you say), but then there are the people that don’t agree and they become the idiots behind their computers hurling names at you or nasty ways that they want to tear apart your spirit, simply for stating your opinion. I am in no way condoning what Azealia said, but the backlash and the way in which black women are treated as a result of speaking up is fucking bottom of the barrel.
AP: Do you ever feel as though you’re unable to express yourself as freely as you’d like?
SATE: Absolutely, as I stated before, I feel like I have to monitor or prepare myself for a possible battle or even being labeled an angry black woman, simply because I raise my voice to issues that I think EVERYBODY no matter color or gender, religion should be passionate about. I speak when there’s injustice, and there’s a lot of it going around.
AP: You perform often. What do you like to do/watch/read when you have some downtime?
SATE: When I have the time, I love to create collages in my journal from the many magazines that I collect. I’m an avid movie watcher, in the theaters and on Netflix. I have a soft spot for romantic comedies. I love working out and pushing myself to be strong.
AP: Tell us one thing our readers don’t know about you that might surprise them?
SATE: I love fonts like I can spend hours looking at different fonts.
AP: What was the last album you purchased?
SATE: A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
AP: Canada’s music scene is really taking over right now in pretty much every genre. What is it about the spirit of the Canadian scene that is so infectious?
SATE: You know, I can’t speak for all of Canada, but I can speak for Toronto. There are a few things, like, we’re the most diverse city in the world, and we’re still young, we have a young spirit. The youthful spirit makes us adventurous, and the diversity adds unique elements to the music. I’d say that’s what makes Toronto’s spirit infectious.
AP: What are you most looking forward to at AFROPUNK Fest?
SATE: Kidding me? The super jam between Fishbone, Living Colour and Bad Brains — witnessing history with my own eyes! And Skunk Anansie (who I haven’t seen since they were in Toronto) and Benjamin Booker, cause he’s fucking wicked – seen him a couple times. And really, I’m looking forward to connecting with all of them and making new friends in the audience.
AP: What else can we expect from SATE over the remainder of 2016?
SATE: Well, my album, RedBlack&Blue, comes out June 10th. You’ll be able to pre-order it on iTunes May 27th, but if you want a physical copy, I’ll be selling those at shows or on my website (statofsate.com). I’m also doing a fair bit of traveling this year, throughout Canada, the States, and Europe. It’s just beginning. Website – http://stateofsate.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/StateOfSate
Instagram – http://instagram.com/stateofsate
*Ayara Pommells is Owner of UK website Rawroots.com and a music writer for Soultrain.com & AFROPUNK.com and editor for Shemovement.com . Follow @YahYahNah.
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