Published Jun 22, 2017Though many musicians surround themselves with entourages of yes men, that holds no appeal for Cat Harris-White. The rising Seattle singer-songwriter — who got her start as half of the R&B/hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction before striking out on her own as SassyBlack— is indie in every sense. She not only writes, performs and produces all the songs on her latest album New Black Swing (out now, independently of course) but books her own gigs and manages herself.
"Someone recently told me 'A manager is good, they get to buffer your rejection.' And I was like 'Yeah, but I like reality,'" she tells Exclaim! "We face so much rejection as indie artists that sometimes you want to give up. But a lot of people face that at this point in their career, and it's about pushing through and persevering. And if someone's trying to hide that from you, well that's just not my jam."
Sophomore LP New Black Swing arrives only a year after her acclaimed debut, No More Weak Dates. Many of those new, heavily '90s-influenced bedroom jams are just as laudably assertive as her career approach, like when she sings "I ain't a ho / I know what I like / And I like taking control," on the slinky, seductive "What We Gonna Do." On "Satisfied," meanwhile, she sings empowering romantic lines like: "I'll share my world view, and encourage you to have your own world too," over minimalist chimes and crisp percussion.
In context, those lines imbue intimacy and adoration, but they also work on their own as rallying cries for young independent women like Harris-White. "The album is about a more mature love than I've ever sung about before. And it's also about maturing self love, and having the confidence to say those words," she explains.
She hopes to empower and inspire listeners in the same way that she was by Queen Latifah, TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and other New Jack-era divas as a young girl. She's also well aware that those themes, and the LP's throwback instrumentation, run counter to much of what dominates the singles charts these days. "Inspirational music isn't popping right now," she says, adding that this LP marks yet another opportunity for her to strike a bold, distinctive stance. "Everyone wants to get high or faded now, which is also okay. But I think we can have some inspirational lyrics too."