[EXCLUSIVE] In Conversation With NY’s Fav Drag-Music Duo Sateen And Exquisite
Sateen and Exquisite are pretty much your average married couple, except for that they’re also a well-known drag show duo. And they make sweet electronic music together. The New York-based producer and vocalist are busy recording a new album, planning music video shoots, and hosting the city’s hottest party, but the ladies behind “Treat Yaself” made some time to let us in on the secrets to their success, marriage, and drag nightlife scene.
See an exclusive spread of Sateen and Exqusite, shot by Amber Asaly, below.
When did you move to New York?
Sateen: I’m from Florida, and Exquisite is from New Jersey. I’ve been here since 2009.
Exquisite: I went to SVA, back in 2005, for a fine arts degree.
What are your feelings on art school?
Exquisite: It was both really good and really bad, but I guess that’s maybe the common fine arts thing. Part of it is really inspiring, but you also get really jaded and weird. For me, at that time, it was the whole post-Bush moment. It was the worst possible time to be graduating from art school. Everything worked out for me. It seemed like a good thing when I started, and the time I was done, galleries were starting to close, and New York was probably not a great place to be an artist. But it was a good changing of the establishment towards more DIY spaces. I don’t regret it.
What about you, Sateen, did you go to college?
Sateen: I went to Parsons for one year, where you mostly take foundation classes. I love this, it’s fun, but I can’t focus, I want to play music, and was like a folk-y girl, and went to all these open mics, and taught myself how to perform. And I guess that’s what led me to meeting Blake, since that’s what I’ve done ever since.
Can you tell us how you guys met?
Sateen: We met on OKCupid. I had just gotten out of a longterm relationship, and I wasn’t looking to date or hook up, but I was looking to collaborate with someone, and wanted to do something new, and more electro, and just more fun. So I made an OKCupid profile, being like, “message me if you’re a producer, this is what I’m trying to do.” He was the first person to message me. We started working on music together, became really close over the next few months, and then… got married [laughing].
That’s amazing. Where’d you get married? What did you wear?
Sateen: At City Hall, like in the Sex and the City movie, at the end, where she actually marries Big. Then we had a party at our house. It was chill. We made all the food. For the courthouse, I wore these pink 80s YSL silk pants with a matching silk halter top. And then for the party, I wore a really tight, gingham dress that pushed my tits all the way up. Sophia Loren-drama.
Exquisite: She wears the dress in our first music video, for ‘Fancy.’ We filmed it like 2 years ago, while we were in France. Basically we went on a road trip to Normandy, while I was driving, in drag, and Sateen wore her wedding dress.
What’s your advice for couples who work together?
Exquisite: I think you really have to commit to it. You have to be like, “we’re going to really embrace each other.” For some people, being independent can really work, but for us, it’s the opposite, and if the other person feels uncomfortable, then we’re like okay, let’s do something else.
Sateen: Constant communication, and the ability to let go of your own ego. Two heads are better than one, always, you know, and a lot of creative people are couples. There’s really something magical can happen when you get rid of your own ego.
What are your signs?
Sateen: We’re both Virgos.
So how has your process changed since making things together?
Sateen: We try to listen to the same things, so if we’re inspired by the same things — Exquisite produces all of our music, so she creates the drums, and creates the beat — then we’ll sit down, and be like, ok, what is happening here?
Exquisite: We mostly try to establish a lot of dialogue. If we talk about something, or work on it long enough, then something’ll eventually just pop out. Like an egg.
When are you looking to release music?
Exquisite: We want to try to get something out during the summer. We’re shooting for a music video, and we’re hoping to drop content July and August. We’re filming the music video in mid-May, for a song called “Karma’s Gonna Get Ya.”
Sateen: We’re working with Mike and Katy, our friends that did our video, “Treat Yaself.” We’re basically going for a super sleek early 2000s dancing-in-a-cube, monochrome, “Say My Name”-ish kind of story. We’re so excited, because we’ve never done anything in a proper studio.”
Would you guys mind making your work elsewhere?
Exquisite: Not at all. We want to get out of New York. It’s definitely good for us, and been great to us. It’s time for us to expand, and explore for sure. We always fantasize about Los Angeles.
Yeah, what’s the drag nightlife scene like in Los Angeles?
Sateen: New York is probably the only place that we know of, that has regular, or over-the-top drag parties multiple nights a week.
Where’s your favorite spot to go out in New York?
Sateen: We do a party at the Jane Hotel on Tuesdays. It’s so much fun. It’s basically go-go boys, but all the people from [Ru Paul’s] Drag Race do performances every week. We love to go out, and we love the scene, but it can take a lot away from what you’re trying to actually do creatively. You do a look, but it’s so disposable, you know? Like maybe you take a photograph, but aside from that, you probably don’t remember.
Exquisite: We really want our music to be positive. And the energy is really hard to cultivate in nightlife spacetimes. It’s crazy how young people are in those place, and how easy it is to get into scary shit.
Sateen: Yeah, and we don’t really do drugs, so that can be tough to navigate in certain situations. We’re just not trying to be sucked into a black hole of nightlife.
Check out these awesome photos of the duo, taken by Amber Asaly, below.
Photography by Amber Asaly