Catherine “Cat” Harris-White, also known as SassyBlack, is a woman on a mission. She’s out to spread her incomprehensibly original sounds as far and wide across the globe as she can. She first accomplished this with her former group, THEESatisfaction, where she recorded with famed Seattle label Sub Pop Records, and even toured with Pacific Northwest legends and Sub Pop Records label mates Sleater-Kinney. But now SassyBlack is solo and out with an incredibly hot record New Black Swing. It’s safe to guess that SassyBlack set out to write some sexy love songs, and she hit the mark with this album. New Black Swing is a collection of love songs, and although they have a sound that could, at times, be pulled straight from the ’90s, the lyrics and feel have a modern, psychedelic edge that makes them irresistible.
“I’m a naturally psychedelic and trippy person, so my music is going to sound like this regardless. I mean, I do smoke and vape, so I’m sure it has some kind of impact.”
It’s easy to imagine these tracks as background music to a love scene in any modern show chronicling this new era of relationships. We envision a romantic comedy, because while these songs are sexy, they don’t take themselves too seriously—they’re songs to swipe right to. CULTURE had the privilege to speak with SassyBlack, and she let us know all about her music, the concept behind her album and of course, cannabis.
How did your solo project, SassyBlack, come to be?
[THEESatisfaction] mutually split last year. I’ve been working on solo music. I’ve been a regularly performing musician for the past 13 years, and I went to school for music. And I’ve been thinking about doing a solo record for a long time, and it was just time.
I love the name SassyBlack! How long have you been using that as your solo moniker, and what was your inspiration for it?
I started using that in 2012-2013, something like that. But I was using it as my DJ name, and I wasn’t really sure what my solo name would be. So now I’m doing my thing, and I
was just like, “This works for me, this is the best name.” So I think I really started owning it in 2012. It means a lot to me; it’s like a sci-fi, blaxploitation, warrior name. Like Storm or like Rogue or Foxy Brown. It has a certain aesthetic to it; it gives you an idea of who I am quickly.
What were some of SassyBlack’s influences for New Black Swing?
SassyBlack is all of the artistic and creative things and designs and plans I’ve been working on my entire life. SassyBlack gives me the opportunity to explore all those different sides of myself. This is my second album and my seventh release, and this project is based off of music I’ve been listening to my whole life. It’s a genre of music called New Jack Swing, and it’s music that a lot of people are familiar with, but don’t even realize they’re familiar with.
Has cannabis affected this project at all, like your creative process, or your willingness to experiment with sounds?
I’m a naturally psychedelic and trippy person, so my music is going to sound like this regardless. I mean, I do smoke and vape, so I’m sure it has some kind of impact. I don’t really let anything outside of what I do heavily impact things. Of course if there’s something in my system, it’s going to impact something. I was mostly vaping, and not smoking during this time, because when I’m performing it’s better for my voice, and it’s a different kind of high, you know? And like other records I’ve been like, “Let’s try an edible record,”—and those records don’t exist, they’re still in demo mode. So this is a very vapey record. Maybe that’s what makes it more airy and not as dense, like my records can be.
See SassyBlack Live
Sept. 6 @ Holocene in Portland