Black Satellite is a rock duo from New York City and is made up of Larissa Vale and Kyle Hawken. Shortly after releasing their first single “Valkyrie” from their full-length album, “Endless,” Black Satellite was requested as support for Starset at NYC’s Gramercy Theatre on the strength of their debut.
This duo recently finished writing and recording their sophomore album, “Aftermath,” which was mixed by the veteran producer Ben Grosse (Marilyn Manson, Breaking Benjamin, Filter)
Their newest single is called “Void” and it is the first taste of their upcoming brand new collection.
Connect With Black Satellite Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Black Satellite in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. Given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you? How have you adjusted to these times? What has changed about your life?
Since Covid hit we’ve been staying with family in Pennsylvania. We found that it was much more comfortable than sheltering in NYC. A typical day would be doing some house projects and enjoying a documentary or TV show in the evening. Of course, we are always thinking outside-the-box, creating new content and handling any band-related duties.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now? What has that been like for you watching that unfold?
The most challenging thing in the beginning was not being able to return home for several months. In early March we were doing pre-production for our Spring tour and had flown in our crew to a studio our management owns near Austin. When we heard that everything had be postponed, we never returned to the city. We drove straight to Pennsylvania, where we’ve been the entire time. There were so many uncertainties in the early days of the virus and we weren’t sure if it was safe or even smart to return home. Unfortunately, NYC is still in a weird spot and we think we’ll likely be in Pennsylvania throughout the rest of this year. It’s been challenging because NYC is very dear to us and is our favorite place to be.
How have you been able to use social media during these unprecedented times? Are you finding that you use it even more now to stay connected to fans and other musicians? Have you changed the way that you utilize it these days?
We utilize social media quite a bit. It definitely helped us knowing we have a community out there ready to support us during these crazy times and are looking forward to when everything starts back up again. We’ve definitely had more time to answer DMs from fans and engage in more lengthy and meaningful discussions which has been a really cool experience. Since we aren’t able to rehearse with our band, we have weekly FaceTime chats together. These usually last several hours and really helps us feel connected while apart, as well as being super entertaining!
What has it been like having to reschedule all your shows this year? Are there shows getting scheduled for 2021 that you’re already looking forward to or are you waiting to start making future tour plans?
It was very disheartening at first. We were just finishing up pre-pro and were literally about to head out on the road for a 6 week run. Initially, we had no idea if the shows were going to be rescheduled or flat-out cancelled. We’re happy to say that our tour has officially been rescheduled for Spring 2021. We had also been booked on another tour that was supposed to happen this fall, that had yet to be announced. This will also be moving to 2021. We seriously cannot wait to finally be able to tour and get back out there!
Since we are all really missing live music, can you recall a favorite show of yours from the past? What do you think ultimately makes for a great show for you? What has been a favorite show of yours by another artist?
One of our favorite shows was when we opened for Starset a few years ago at Gramercy Theatre in NYC. The fans were so engaged, and even though we had just released our first single EVER just a couple weeks prior, they were already familiar with it! As soon as I announced the song everyone started screaming…we couldn’t believe it. Near the end of our set the crowd was already clapping along with the music, it was so surreal. So many fans came to hang out with us at the merch booth, waited to take photos with us, and even asked us to sign some autographs. It was the first time we had experienced that much attention at a show and we’ll never forget it for that reason. Especially since we only had one song released at the time. We were like “Oh, people actually care about our band!” It definitely reinforced that we were onto something with Black Satellite.
One of our favorite shows we’ve been to was when we saw Soundgarden in NYC. It was in the middle of January, I think. We waited outside for hours so we could be right up close to the stage. I wanted to wear a cool outfit instead of, you know, a practical winter coat and was probably the coldest I’ve ever been in my entire life. Not too long after, our hands and feet where completely numb. There was a CVS on the corner nearby and Kyle went to see if they had any hand-warmer pouches. They only had two so we had to share and alternate who used them to stay warm…sticking one in each boot. The concert was definitely well worth the wait. Chris sounded incredible! As the show was ending and people were starting to leave, he locked eyes with me and said “Thank you!” That night I made a silent vow that I would play on that same stage one day.
How did you two meet and then decide to form Black Satellite? What was it like coming up with your band name? Was it hard coming up with something that you could both agree on? How does it fit you two and the kind of music that you create now?
We actually met in a music class in high school. Kyle was looking for a singer and asked if I wanted to start a band. I had been looking for a partner for a while as well and naturally agreed. I’d already come up with the name a couple years prior when I was 15. Initially, we threw around a couple of other names, but it was clear from the very beginning we wanted to be called Black Satellite. Sonically, our music is dark, aggressive, and haunting. We think the band name is a great representation of our sound as well as our visual identity.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Void.” What was the inspiration for this track? How does it compare to anything else you have released in the past? How would you say that it prepares listeners for your forthcoming new sophomore album, “Aftermath?”
The inspiration behind Void is allowing yourself to explore the darkest parts of your psyche with an almost morbid curiosity. It’s the sense of relishing in this darkness instead of trying to pull yourself out. “Void” is a good bridge between our debut record, “Endless,” and “Aftermath,” sonically speaking. The new record is much heavier and is more in the vein of hard rock and metal. We think “Void” gives listeners a better idea of this new sound while reminiscing on some of the themes present in “Endless.”
What was it like making “Aftermath?” Did anything surprise you about the making of this collection? Were there any unexpected challenges? What was it like working with your veteran producer, Ben Grosse on this new album?
We were initially surprised with how vulnerable we were on this record. We really tried to break all the rules in terms of songwriting and take some more risks. This freedom allowed us to really push the boundaries and hone in on a more aggressive sound that was uniquely ours.
There are always challenges to overcome when making a record and we certainly weren’t spared this time around. We converted a family home in Pennsylvania into a studio for the duration of the record-making process. We even had to deal with an escaped chicken who took a liking to Kyle for some reason. It would follow him around and refused to leave for days. We had to knock on doors around the neighborhood until we eventually found his owner and returned him. He was definitely a metal-looking chicken, all black with some white spiky looking feathers sticking out from the top of his head…we named him Ricky. This is oddly 100% a true story with photos to prove it!
It was such a dream to work with Ben since he had mixed many of our favorite records. We can admit that we were slightly intimidated at first, but his warm personality and witty humor made us instantly feel super comfortable.
When do you hope to release “Aftermath?” How do you think you will celebrate the release of it?
We are aiming to release Aftermath sometime in 2021. Since everything is still a bit up in the air, we haven’t honed in on an exact release date yet. We put so much of ourselves into this record and are honestly really proud of the body of work we were able to create. We can’t wait to finally share it with you all. Hopefully we will be celebrating the launch by kicking off a new tour and toasting with our creative family.
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US has been going through? How exactly is it inspiring you and your music?
Current events have always had a huge influence on music and culture. We are already experiencing an outflow of new music that is directly drawing on these influential events and movements. We usually draw upon personal experiences in our music and are, naturally, a by-product of the society in which we live. It will be interesting to see how we grow and what unique challenges and experiences we’ll write about in the future.
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song for you, who would it be and why?
It would be incredible to collaborate with Korn on a track. They are one of our favorite artists and it would be really cool to see how Larissa and Jonathan Davis’ voices would compliment each other. It would also be amazing to track a song with Brian Head Welch since we listened to his band Love and Death a ton while making our record.
What would your dream music video look like right now?
We always love making music videos and executing our crazy ideas…which occasionally consists of Kyle putting himself in physical danger or burying Larissa on the side of a mountain. Larissa comes from a background in Film, so our visuals are an integral part of our artistic vision, leading us to always strive to go above and beyond.
It would be an absolute dream to have a music video directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who is easily one of our favorite directors. This would probably never come to fruition, but could you imagine how stunning (and horrifying) those visuals would be?!?
If you could go back in time and tell your younger musician-self something about this industry or how your career was going to progress, what would you say?
Trust your instincts and enjoy the process. We tend to be workaholics with the thought of “how do we outdo ourselves?” on our mind at all times. We haven’t taken any of our successes for granted, but we also don’t typically sit back and pat each other on the back and say good job. That being said, we can’t wait to get back to it and work like never before. We sincerely hope to see all of you out in the world soon and are so thankful to our fans for keeping us going throughout all of the shutdowns!