SATE Talks Being at Home on Stage, Wolf Symbolism

Post Author: Meredith Schneider

Imagine this: A goddess rocking a close cut and feathers in her hair, riding into the room on a panther. She has gorgeous, vibrant butterfly wings attached to her back. Guitars and amps are strapped to the back of the panther as well (this is a large panther–roll with us on this one), and there is loud, crashing noise surrounding her. Big noise.

This is a statement. This is how SATE would introduce herself to you.

SATE is a real force to be reckoned with. And we don’t take that cliche lightly. The woman is an absolute badass (see: review of her “Feel” music video). She’s kind, she’s smart, she’s funny, and her musical roots have always been entirely too strong to deny. When you’re a natural, everything just sort of clicks for you. SATE is a natural.

And she’s also really charming on the phone.

We sat down to speak with her right after we saw her music video for “Feel”, because we were drawn to everything she represents. Get a look into her life, her love of the art, and her message right here!

What’s going on right now? Where are you calling from?

I’m calling from Toronto. I’m calling from… I guess we call it The Six now?

How do you think being from Toronto that has aided in shaping who you are and how you live your life?

Well, growing up in Toronto, it’s really very diverse. Apparently it’s the most diverse city in the world. It’s food and music and language–having access to all those things and really just being immersed in a lot of it. Having the freedom to really sit back and listen, and feel how that shifts you, how that changes you, how that affects you. I think that’s Toronto.

There’s a stereotype that all people from Canada are really, really nice. Do you think that’s true?

People are polite in Canada. There are lots of undercurrents of bullshit that are not very nice. There is a lot of passive aggressive shit that goes on. I guess that’s what makes people very nice.

People say that people in New York are assholes. But–quite frankly–when I go to New York, I have the best time and people are really nice. It’s real. I’ve never actually come across anyone in New York that isn’t nice and real. There’s a lot of second guessing sometimes, I agree with that sentiment. But, that’s all over the world.

And that’s my diplomatic side.

We know that you have a pretty extensive musical background. Was there a moment that you realized it was what you wanted to pursue?

It’s been in the family. There are so many of us, and it was just kind of what I fell into. I didn’t think to really do anything else. I love dancing. I grew up dancing for a very long time. Singing gives me a chance to incorporate all of the things that I love. The stage is my home.

photo by Che Kothari
photo by Che Kothari

What’s your favorite part about performing live?

The exchange of energy between me and the audience, as well as me and my band. It’s really a spiritual, freeing experience. Anything goes. Anything can happen if you really let it happen and you really let it go. You could just create magic and be witness to that.

You just got back from tour in mid-May. Any crazy stories?

YES! Yeah, a lot of them. There are a lot of crazy stories, but one of the things that happened was we kept coming across the word–or the spirit of–the wolf. We played a place in Montreal that was called Le loup Garou, which is “The Werewolf” in French. The next day, we stayed on Wolf Road. When we played New York, our sound guy’s name was Wolf. Where we parked our car was right in front of a place called that had “wolf” in its name. The last place we played in Cleveland, the owner of the bar had just lost her dog and it was half wolf. It was a little crazy.

We looked into it. It means “listening to your intuition” and sometimes going solo.

How would you describe your music?

I would say it is bluesy, raunchy soul with a hint of dirty rock ‘n roll.

Do you rhyme everything when you talk?

I like to. 

What made you choose to do a PledgeMusic campaign with your latest work?

I felt that PledgeMusic was the best vehicle because they focus on music. They’re really hands on. I just liked the model. I like the interactions. Every outlet [like IndieGoGo] is great, but I really like Pledge because it’s just all about music. They’re fucking warriors, too. They’re amazing.

I noticed that through PledgeMusic, you had your backers vote on songs to put on the album. Did that make you nervous at all?

No, no! Not nervous at all, actually. It was something I brainstormed with the Pledge guys and I thought it was an incredible idea. Why not? It makes so much sense. If I’m going to put the music out there to people that are believing in me by giving to my campaign, why would I then not ask them what their opinion is as to how we shape and form this? I wanted to put my best foot forward so that they’d be happy with it and they’d champion it just as much as I have. I put out all the music that I loved. So it was just a matter of narrowing it down.

I feel like I’m more of a winner because I had their input.

I can’t make decisions to save my life, so I’d probably do that too.

Me neither. Are you a Libra?

Nope, but I’m an Aries and we’re supposed to work well as friends.

New buddies! We can definitely be friends.

The music video for “Feel” is so empowering. How did the idea for it come to be?

It was really a collaboration with Ramon Charles. He’s an incredible editor and these are the styles of videos that he does where he takes footage and creates an art piece. I almost kind of left it in his hands. I had visual concepts of movement, dancing, and movement as in moving forward. Shaking up foundation, fighting, and feeling. All-encompassing feeling. The thesis behind the song was about being–whether you listen to your intuition or not–and what happens. Where does that take you and how do you deal with it?

What do you hope that you fans–and people who see the video in general–take from it?

I hope that they feel something. I hope that they see that not much has changed. We have a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of humanity in the video and I want them to look at what entertainment is versus reality. I want them to have conversations and question things. Let’s change shit, let’s change the world.

I was really moved by what Ramon created from the ideas and even just the song that I put forth to him. Fuck yeah.

I’m not sure if a lot of people would know–only my family would know–but there’s footage in the video of my mother, my uncle, and my aunt singing in Paris. It’s just a little clip in there, and you’d have to be looking for it.

You are playing Afropunk in Brooklyn in August. What are you most looking forward to about that?

I am so looking forward to playing with Fishbone and Living Color again. Or just being there to watch them. I’m also looking forward to this super jam made up of members from each band. That’s inspiration for what I do. It’s black people in rock, and it’s rad.

Who is your favorite superhero, and why?

Black Panther. He kicks ass. He’s only one of them, actually. I actually have three favorites for you. Black Panther, Martha Washington is another one, and Tank Girl.

What’s up next?

I just had the official/unofficial CD release part at North by NortheastHeading back down to New York and doing a few shows there. I’m going to Windsor. I’m going overseas in the fall as well, doing tours in Europe. I’m going to be busy! It will be hella fun.

Keep the fire burning hot.


July 1 – Les Premiers Vendredis (Montreal)
July 27 – Afropunk’s Girrrl Riot @ Lincoln Center (New York)
August 27 – Afropunk Festival (Brooklyn, NY)
October 12 – Chabada (Angers, France)
October 22 – Le Fuzz’yon (La Roche Sur Yon, France)

RedBlack&Blue is available now.