Sateen is a pop music duo comprised of Exquisite (production/ guitar) and Miss Queen (vocals). They are a "high femme high glam" lipstick lesbian couple, one trans and one cis woman, respectively. Sateen makes energetic dance music, with disco and house leanings. They emerged from from the NYC queer underground nightlife scene and became notorious for their unique take on drag. In documenting their club appearances and performances, they have amassed a significant following on their Instagram @sateenmusic. Their work centers around trans activism and a celebration of love and life. Their latest release, the eponymous EP, "Sateen", follows their last full length album, entitled "Greatest Hits".
How would you describe Sateen the band?
Sateen is a pop duo consisting of of high-glam lipstick lesbians (one trans and one cis woman) Exquisite and Miss Queen. We make fun disco-tinged dance songs about femme-empowerment and freeing your mind from the chains of society.
What can you tell us about the new Sateen EP? What ideas are you exploring?
The Sateen EP is a body of work that we have been writing and recording for the past year. Some of the songs are even older than that. This year has been a year of great positive change in both of our lives, and the music reflects that. Exquisite came out as a Trans Woman and began her journey on HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and Miss Queen came into her own as a pansexual queer woman. 2017 was also the year that we both began to move away from the nightlife world and really focus on our music. This isn't our first time at the rodeo, we are living our truths and we are confident. The result is six pop songs spanning disco, house, funk and r&b that are meant to empower the listener.
Could you please talk about how the Sateen EP came together?
From day one, we have been completely independent of help from the "industry". So everything we do is completely our conception, our inspirations, and our voices, for better or worse. This EP is no different. We are always working on new music. Exquisite makes the tracks and does all of the production and Miss Queen does all of the vocals. The melody and lyrics are a complete collaboration. When we get into the mode of writing, we finish each others verses. We work out of our home and we record in a closet in our living room. This past year, through all of our life changes and personal growth, we have been writing and recording. One day we realized that we had an EP of music that worked together and just felt right, sort of by accident.
Has your song writing/recording process changed over the years?
We have been working, living, and loving together for over 4 years. Over those years we have really grown together in so many ways. In the beginning, Miss Queen was very bossy and would try to dictate all aspects of production. Over time, she realized that our best work is the stuff that is completely collaborative and she began to let go. It took a lot of work but at this point, we have a trust in one another that allows writing and recording to be fun and instinctive. It just keeps getting better.
What kind of impact do you want your music to have on the world? More specifically in regards to acknowledging and supporting trans people in music?
Simply put, we want our music to have a positive impact on the world, especially as it pertains to trans people. Presenting as two flamboyant drag queens has always made being taken serious a struggle. Now that Exquisite is out as trans and we are presenting as a lesbian couple, that struggle has only been amplified. In the music world, we are often demeaned for our appearance. People always want to tell us what to do, or more often, what we are doing wrong. We hope that by sticking to our guns and clinging to a message of female empowerment and trans equality, we can open doors to a new, young generation of artists that identify similarly. Hopefully that door can be pushed open even further, or, for that matter lost altogether. We would love it if our impact allows all sorts of gender non-conforming individuals, or people with alternate sexual preferences, to flourish in the music industry.
What/who are your musical influences?
We are inspired by disco and soul legends like Sister Sledge, Donna Summer, Evelyn Champagne King, Teena Marie (The Ivory Queen of Soul), Loleatta Holloway, Chaka Khan and Deneice Williams. The House Divas of the 90's are also a HUGE influence. Cece Peniston, Dajae, Ultra Naté, Crystal Waters, to name a few. Martha Wash, whose career spanned disco and house is an absolute favorite. And, Of course Deee-Lite is a major inspiration.
Can you describe your personal style? How important is fashion to you?
We are glam 40's showgirls who time traveled to 2017 and became obsessed with fashion from the 90s and the aughts. Fashion is a very important aspect of what we do as Sateen and how we express ourselves. We get a thrill hunting down vintage Dior, Dolce and Westwood at the local thrift stores. To us, lingerie is most definitely an outfit. The more rhinestones, the better. Our style has become a synthesis of equal parts Glamour and Camp. So we are very Glamp.
What and/or who influences your style?
Our sister Amanda Lepore is a big influence on our style. She is a trans icon and the most glamorous woman we know. Most people don't know that she rhinestones most of her looks and we aspire to own as many sparkly things as she does. We both gravitate towards high high femme fashion like 90s and 2000's Galliano Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, and we have a special place in our hearts for Anna Sui. As a trans woman, Exquisite finds fashion and personal style to be gender affirming and a necessary part of survival. We both feel our best in perfect hair, beautiful makeup and sexy clothing.
What are your plans for the future? Will you be touring the EP?
Right now, we are focusing on getting through the next month. Pretty much immediately following the release of this EP, Exquisite is having FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery). It is a huge deal because she will be recovering until some time in December. We would love to play shows and make appearances in support of the record, but for now this is more important. Every trans person should have access to gender affirming surgeries, but in this country and many other parts of the world, that is unfortunately not the case. Our insurance does not cover this costly procedure and we have to pay for it 100% out of pocket. It was incredibly difficult to amass the funds to allow her to get FFS, and now we have to worry about surviving without being able to work! We were lucky enough to get a lot of help from our fans via crowd-funding. We will be spending a ton of time this winter making shirts and tote bags to reward all of the amazingly generous donations that we received. But after she recovers and we handle our obligations to our supporters, we will be out there spreading the gospel of Sateen again. Definitely watch out for a Sateen gig in a city near you some time in 2018!