Satica Nhem, a first-generation Cambodian-American artist, songwriter and poet, released her latest single “Son of a Gun” and her 5-track sophomore EP dear april, ily on August 9th.
Called Sati for short, she mostly writes R&B-influenced pop tunes and attempts to incorporate more alternative influences for her artist project. According to her, if there’s anything that she wants to accomplish with her art, it would be to make it culturally and sonically impactful no matter how large or small.
Originating from Long Beach, CA, Satica wanted to become a musician ever since she was younger. Being the youngest of six siblings, she always had her boombox playing old cassette tapes.
“I have old VHS videos of me singing and mouthing lyrics before I could even read. I don’t think I even made a conscious decision that music was my passion, it just happened.”
Despite producing music in a motley of categories, such as alternative, R&B and pop, Satica would love to dip her fingers in every genre in the future.
“I would love to write show tunes or put together movie scores. I think that would be amazingly fulfilling.”
In terms of writing songs, the singer does not follow any formula—claiming that if she did, it would be following what her ear and body want to perceive.
“Writing a song is more than pen and paper to me,” Satica said. “My mind, body and soul are 1000% connected and will dictate the outcome of the song—in both good and bad ways.
“I try my best to speak truthfully and passionately with every song as I can, and I don’t prefer writing a song where I’m confined to parameters. So, I try to go into every session with an open mind for myself and my collaborators. My most satisfying sessions were the ones that came natural and weren’t forced.”
Satica writes songs because they serve a purpose for her soul, and every single song on dear april, ily was a point in time of her life that represents growth, reflection, and self-love.
“These past few years have been such a transitory and uncomfortable time for me, and it’s beautiful in all its ups & downs. I’m growing and learning every day to love myself so I can love others,” Satica said.
April is her childhood nickname that only her close family and friends call her, so anytime someone dear to her calls her “April,” it keeps her grounded.
“dear april, ily is my old AIM screen name all throughout middle school and high school, so I thought it was fitting to name my sophomore EP this.”
When writing “Son of a Gun”, Satica said that the lyrics “He’s a son of a gun, shooting roses for fun, blowing smoke on my love” are significant and metaphorical. Her collaborator, Sakima, came up with the hook, and it’s a perfect way of implying that there are people in the world who would hurt and kill instead of wanting people to be happy.
“It’s terrifying that there are people out there that truly feel like it is their ‘responsibility’ or ‘duty’ to shame people for wanting the simple things in life, which really is as simple as love and happiness.”
Satica explained how her new single connects with our generation—discussing the injustices and gun violence that are frequently happening.
“You realize guns are a large part of our culture whether or not we take the time to acknowledge it. It’s a problem when it gets into the hands of people who aren’t mentally sound to be carrying a gun,” Satica stated. “It’s kind of crazy that it’s easier to get a gun in America than it is to get a work visa or a green card. I feel like our generation and the future ones, along with the Internet should have the ability to be more socially conscious.”
According to Satica, she is not entirely sure what kind of impact her song will have on society, but at least it’s a conversation she started and that she was able to use her art to be socially forward.
In terms of the production of the song, Satica thinks her producers Mike Derenzo, AObeats and Sakima did a wonderful job knowing when to pull back on the instrumental to let the lyrics shine.
“They knew when to add dynamics to make things come alive. It sounds very melancholic, and the piano elements I think brought a very beautiful but theatrical element.”
For the first time, Satica was able to be vulnerable with her story, her heart and her lyrics. According to her, the whole EP is extremely raw and heavy for her. “I do also have a tendency to incorporate visual and sensory elements in my writing style, so you can imagine exactly what I see in my head.”
With the release of “Son of a Gun,” Satica wants people to imagine themselves in a situation when their lives are at risk—a place where they do not have control.
“Ask yourself, ‘what am I going to do about it?’ What if it was someone very dear to you ended up in that situation, how would you strive for change? I want to use my platform for good and I’m hoping it starts the conversation.”
Satica concluded with advice to aspiring singers: “Humble your ego and take advantage of every opportunity that arises. You know what you can learn from people if you open yourself up.”
Featured Image courtesy of Alex Oh