David Belisle

"WHEN WE MET it was kind of magical," remembers Stas. "Cat was singing a song—she was actually singing about me."

It was at an open mic in 2008. Before Stas and Cat knew each other. Before they became THEESatisfaction, collaborated with Shabazz Palaces, and signed with Sub Pop. And, of course, before they set sail toward the edges of afro-futuristic space.

The on-campus open mic, Retro Revolutionary Poets, was both Cat and Stas' primary artistic outlet. Studying jazz vocals at the University of Washington, Cat (AKA Catherine Harris-White) often hosted and improvised with the house band. Stas (AKA Stasia Irons) performed her rap and poetry solo. Over the weeks, Cat found herself inspired and wrote a song about Stas.

"She didn't know it was about her 'til later," Cat says. "It wasn't like, 'This is for you, Stasia,' and then pointing at her in the crowd." Nonetheless, she sang it. They spoke soon after.

"When we met in college we became immediate friends," says Stas. "We just wanted to chill and spend a lot of time together. Cat was already working at Starbucks and I got a job there."

After Starbucks, the two went on to Costco. "We were not focused," Cat says, cracking up. "I mean we worked. We were getting people's lattes and such, and helping load people's cars at Costco. We did our jobs. But we definitely dreamed about something else—about doing music."

Both on record and on stage, the two fit together almost preternaturally. Cat's richly textured and tonal jazz croons provide both counterpoint and complement to Stas' smoky, rhythmic, slick yet forceful rhymes. They make the beats together, reflecting these same forces—backgrounds in jazz and hiphop, swirling with modern production and connectivity. After six online mixtapes and an appearance on Shabazz Palaces' marvelous Black Up, THEESatisfaction signed with Sub Pop, who released awE naturalE earlier this year. It is innovative, stirring, funky, and fat free.

"Everything has changed dramatically," says Stas of how THEESatisfaction has affected their lives. But like the music, Stas remains confident and cool. "It isn't overwhelming," she says. "It's just different."