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Startin' Something


A music duo thrilled to mix business and pleasure.

Photography by David Belisle

If being in a band with your significant other doesn't make apparent your commitment, matching tattoos should do the trick. The members of funk-infused hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction, Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White, started dating in 2006 (they got together after a series of chance encounters in Seattle's open-mic scene) and eventually took their relationship to the next logical step, getting Thriller tats in a dripping-blood font on the inside of each of their left arms.

"We've always had a love for Michael Jackson in common," says Harris-White, "Thriller, to be specific. Everything about that album means a lot to us. There are a couple of key artists: Michael, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan... That was the thing that really connected us -- that we could talk about music."

They can certainly make it as well. The duo's put out six mixtapes since forming in 2008, but this month will see the release of their first proper studio album, awE naturalE. It's a melodic and thoughtful collection of songs that ranges from glitchy, dance-infused numbers to songs that are almost spoken word. Harder-edged cuts show off the ladies' refined ability to spit lines, like in the driving last minute of the stand-out track, "Earthseed." It's a sound that took time to polish.

"When we first started recording and making music, all we had was a laptop, microphone, and mixer -- we didn't know how to do it," says Irons. "As we released each tape, we learned more about the equipment and we got access to studios. With this release, we did it in a studio and we know our equipment a lot better. It's sort of a peak."

Despite the indie pedigree of their record label, Sub Pop, and the following you might imagine a pair of black lesbians would pick up along their way, the duo says there's no such thing as a stereotypical fan of THEESatisfaction.

"I'm always surprised that anyone likes my music," says Irons. "We were in a grocery store recently, and there was an elderly white woman who came up to us to say she really liked our songs."

awE naturalE comes out March 27.

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