THEESatisfaction Talk 'EarthEE,' Working with Meshell Ndegeocello

THEESatisfaction Talk 'EarthEE,' Working with Meshell Ndegeocello
THEESatisfaction have always defied easy categorization, even on their acclaimed Sub Pop debut album AwE NaturalE. The R&B/neo-soul/hip-hop duo composed of Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White — commonly referred to as Stas and Cat — have since decided to befuddle expectations and conventional genres even more for their upcoming sophomore release EarthEE, out February 24 via Sub Pop.

With Cat splitting her time between Seattle and L.A., and Stas now based out of Brooklyn, THEESat (as they affectionately refer to themselves) embraced a more collaborative spirit, both within the band and with outsiders. Whereas Stas took care of the bulk of production for the project in the past, Cat flexed her production muscles on this new release, such as on album highlight "Post Black, Anyways."

"We became better musicians and writers, learning how to use the equipment and software that we have," Stas tells Exclaim! "[Recording EarthEE] was just more freeform, a lot more jamming, we were more focused on what we wanted it to sound like, and it was a different experience."

There are some constants on both albums, though, including contributions from labelmates and longtime collaborators Shabazz Palaces — no strangers themselves to genre-bending hip-hop, as attested by last year's standout release Lese Majesty — and a more assertive presence by "secret THEESat member" Erik Blood, the Seattle-based musician and producer who was also instrumental in many Shabazz Palaces efforts. Both Stas and Cat release music independently of THEESatisfaction — Stas under her Stas the Boss moniker and Cat as Sassy Black — which allows them "to be super creative all the time, and then really start honing in what the THEESatisfaction sound is," Cat says

The two also operate a series of popular parties entitled Black Weirdo, which have attracted a whole new subset of fans, including legendary soul and funk singer/rapper Meshell Ndegeocello, who appears on two of EarthEE's tracks.

"I don't think we could even imagine that she would reach out to us. It was just really magical, and the work she did, was so... it just sounded like us and felt like us, without us actually having met yet. It was really special to collaborate with her," Cat says.

EarthEE's first single, the brilliant "Recognition," was an odd choice, given that it isn't necessarily representative of the album as a whole. That was the point, Cat says: "It is kind of a standout, and that's why we decided to lead with this one, and to see how people respond to the next singles that we have."

Their next single will be the album's title track, which features Shabazz Palaces, Erik Blood and fellow Sub Pop signee Porter Ray, whose debut album will also be released later this year.

Though they have no firm tour plans outside a couple of album launch parties, Canada is definitely on their radar. "We go to Toronto all the time," Cat says, "and we've been to Alberta twice, so we know the rest of Canada's like 'What the hell is going on with you guys?' We're definitely going to make it happen."

THEESatisfaction have a pile of North American tour dates coming up, including several opening for Sleater-Kinney. You can see their schedule here.