Artist Tribune

SATE on Betty Davis: “Finding her gave me the permission to be bold”

Toronto's resident queen of Rock reflects on the enduring influence of the funk visionary.

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October 1, 2018

On October 2nd, Royal Stompbox teamed up with Aurora to co-host the Toronto premiere of the much anticipated documentary BETTY – THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT.  The film tells how the pioneering Ms Betty Davis, singularly rose to become one of the most influential and fearless artists of the funk era

Shit, so where do I start?

I’ll start with who I am. My name is SATE and I’ve been performing all of my life, born into a family of badasses, truly. Onstage I love to spread my legs and gyrate, I growl and I snarl and I’ll kick my legs if I feel it. I’ve always and always will resonate with a wild, raw, no fucks given fearless attitude, emotion and energy in music, something that moves my body or my spirit.

How did I find her? I was reading an article about Betty Davis when Light In The Attic Records reissued her music and I was like, “who the fuck is this!?” went to the record store and bought it. I listened to her album with a snarl on my face for the entire album and I said, “This is me! This is how I want my music to be. I want my music to be this nasty!!!” When I found Betty, she created a space for me where blues, funk and rock intersected and made sense. I knew what I heard in my head with my own music, but I couldn’t translate it until I heard her — then everything made sense.

She’s a blueswoman. Blues women are self empowered. They own their sexuality, their bodies. They’re truth tellers and fearless. Blues is the foundation of all pop music, but unlike pop, it’s primal, it’s wild and untamed. It comes from pain, it’s survival music. It’s ancestral. It’s black music. And Betty is all that to me.

Betty Davis made music that said fuck you to the patriarchy before the hashtag. She also made music that said fuck you to what a respectable black womxn should say, want, be or act. She is black girl magic, no fucks given, owning her sexuality. She is blues, funk, rock & roll, punk. She is hella feminist and hella black & proud. The irony about celebrating her, is that the confines black womxn were put in when she was making music around marketability, relevance, respectability and probably even genre, still exist for the many black womxn that exist outside of that box.

Finding her gave me the permission to be bold, brash, raunchy, raw, aggressive, hard, soft, sexy, free, all of that while being a black womxn in control of my narrative, in control of my pleasure and my sexuality on and offstage. She gave me permission to express myself fully, with every aspect of what it means to be human, cracks flaws and all. The existence of Betty reminds me that we have to continue to recognize, to support and hold these strong, fearless black womxn up. Because they are the ones being thrown all the bullshit life has to offer; because they are not supposed to exist; they’re not supposed to resist and they’re most definitely not supposed to persist. But we’re still here, and I don’t plan on taming the wild, raunchy or free in me anytime soon.

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