Satin Beige on Heritage & Cello-Infused RnB

Satin Beige caught our eyes and ears at this month's BBC Introducing Live in London with her combination of RnB, soul and... wait... the cello? You heard right. This year has seen so many original sounds come forward out of the underground, so we caught up with Satin Beige about how she makes hers!

Q1: Your acoustic cello performance at BBC Introducing Live was really refreshing. It’s so rare to see modern pop and R’n’B artists using instruments like that. What inspired you to implement the cello into your songs?

A1: Aww thanks! Well I grew up playing cello. When I started writing songs people kept telling me I should use cello instead of guitar. At first I didn’t think it could be done for the kind of music that I wanted to write, and then by chance I saw a few other people doing different things with the cello, and a singer songwriter cellist called Ayanna Witter-Johnson who is amazing. It wasn’t the kind of stuff I wanted to write, but it changed my perspective on the possibility of using the cello to write R’n’B, so I sat down one afternoon with my cello and gave it a go and it worked!!!

Q2: Your newest song Being Me obviously has a deeper message behind it about heritage and expectations of you. What can you tell us about this song?

A2: It’s probably easier just to go and listen to it haha! It’s really just my thoughts and experiences relating to being “mixed race”, and my answer to all the people who ask me “where are you from?”. I kind of hope the message people take from it is that all these definitions of “black”,”white”, “latino” etc are kind of arbitrary and out-dated. Putting people into boxes like that doesn’t really work. That makes it sound really serious, but it’s not – it’s fun, carnival vibes!

It’s really a celebration song! I’m celebrating my heritage. I’m celebrating not being defined by the colour of my skin. I’m celebrating just being me!

Q3: Does the cello play a big part in your writing process, given the amount of old-school soul in your music? How do you approach writing a new song? 

A3: I think the instrument you write on definitely influences the song you write. There is more jazz in the songs I write using the cello I think. If I write on the cello and that song ends up on guitar that’s different again, and the same for the other way round. Sometimes I don’t use instruments at all when I’m writing!

There are so many ways to write a song. I don’t really think about it. I just have an idea or a thought or a feeling or a story that kind of compels me to follow it and see where it takes me. A lot of the time it feels like the song already exists somewhere in my head or heart and I’m just trying to uncover it, or put it together like a jigsaw.

Q4: These days it can be difficult to describe new music, with all the new, eclectic sounds on show. But if you had to describe your genre and music in three words, what would they be?

Tricky. I’ll go with…R’n’B, Pop & Soul!

Q5: How did you find BBC Introducing Live? Did you see any other artists that caught your interest?

A5: It was amazing! I’ve made some amazing new friends. I didn’t get to be there as long as I would have liked to this year because my mum was in hospital at the time but I’m definitely going back next year.

Q6: What’s the future plans for releasing new music? Aside from the new single, what else is on the horizon?

A6: Being Me is available now and I’ll be releasing singles all through next year leading up to a full album release in the second half of the year! Expect another single release by February/March! In the mean time I’m gigging and I’m messing around with covers on my cello that should keep you entertained on Instagram until the next single drops!

Q7: Would you ever consider recording fully acoustic & cello-ified versions of your songs?

A7: Yeah definitely! I used to think people wouldn’t be interested in listening to recordings like that but the feedback I’m getting suggest otherwise! Watch this space!

You heard it folks, new stuff on the way soon. If you’re like us, and you love new exciting styles of music, give Satin Beige a listen. Or better yet, go to one of her shows and soak in all the cello vibes you’ll ever need.

Follow Satin Beige here!

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