Matt Benton

A Conversation With Black Satellite

Music Scene Media
Mar 7, 2023
14 min read

By Matt Benton

As the Black Satellite travels from the East Coast to Arizona to start the Double Trouble Live Tour with Oni as Cradle of Filth & Devil Driver co-headline, I was lucky enough to get a moment of their time for a quick interview. Even though I was extremely nervous, having that conversation with lead vocalist Larissa Vale and guitarist Kyle Hawken felt like a conversation with old friends.

Cover Photo Credit: Chris Owyoung

Matt: So we’re actually gonna be posting the interview to our website. And then when y’all come to Dallas, I’m also gonna be photographing and doing concert review and everything else too. So, uh, I guess I just wanted start off by saying, since y’all are from New York, and I’m originally I’m from New York as well. I grew up in Queens and Rockland County. So, how’s New York been, you know, besides, you know, the cold and everything?

Larissa: I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, the same. Um, we’re kind, we’re in East Village, so I, I love our little bubble. Um, I don’t really like travel too much outside of it. I mean, we’re not really home that much to begin with. And then, uh, when we’re home I kind of like, I don’t really feel like, you know, exploring that much. It’s kinda boring.

Matt: See, it’s funny you say that because when I moved here a lot of people were saying the same stuff like, “oh, you’re from New York. I bet you go out to like different bars all the time and explore the city all the time.” And I’m like, no, almost never. Like I know the two places I like to go to. Other than that, like you said, I stay at home, don’t go anywhere.

Larissa: Yeah, that’s exactly what I do.

Matt: Um, so I guess on the topic of that then, I’m kind of interested to see, do y’all think being from New York and the city and everything kind of influenced the sound of the band? Or do you feel like you have your own different sound from a different point of view or just kind of your input on how the sound of the band came about?

Larissa: You know, I don’t know if the scene so much really influenced our sound because, uh, we only like played literally like two local shows until we started touring nationally. Um, you know, uh, I went to Penn State and I finished my senior year of high school in Pennsylvania as well. So that’s where I met Kyle. So I don’t know if it’s like so much influenced by that, you know?

Matt: Okay. Well then I guess on the topic of that then, where would you say the influence came from? So like, growing up, like my dad always had us like listen to like classic heavy metal, like Black Sabbath, Ozzy, all, all like the classic ones. So like, did y’all the similar kind of upbringing or background, or did you just like go on the internet one day and just like, “oh my God, what is this?”

Larissa: So, I actually grew up listening to like a lot of like, uh, nineties industrial rock and like new metal like Korn and Marilyn Manson, Tool, like that kind of thing. Um, and then when I met Kyle, he kind of got me into more of like Alice In Chains, like Ozzy, you know. Um, so our taste of music did overlap a lot, but we were able to kind of, uh, bring our own unique styles.

Matt: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s really cool. Did, was it like an accidental meeting, if you don’t mind me asking when y’all met each other? Or was it like kind of like, oh, he, here’s this person, or did y’all, like, how did that come about?

Larissa: It was a little bit of both. So we went in a music class in high school, it was like a new program, it was called Rock Ensemble. You cover songs, you play them on stage, like in a band setting. So, um, the teacher has like, you know, alright, we’re gonna learn like these 15 songs this semester, or whatever. And, uh, he was trying to start a band and he was like, Hey, heard you sing, like you want be in a band? And I was like, yeah. And then, I mean, it sounds really boring and cliché, but that’s just kinda how did it happen.

Matt: No, I don’t think it’s that cliché though. I mean, like you said, if it works out that way, I mean no way else to do it then that way, I guess. So, I guess on the topic of that too, kind of leading to it as well, was music always like going to be the goal for both of y’all or one of y’all? Or did you kind of like slowly get into it? I know you mentioned the band class and everything, but like, were you always saying, “I’m gonna be a musician, that’s all I wanna do?” Or did it kind of like slowly progress?

Larissa: I mean, we absolutely just wanted to be musicians from the beginning. I don’t remember even having any other dreams when I was growing up. Like literally since like third grade I had like a lyric book and I was like trying to start a band with some of my friends at school. It was like, it’s actually kinda funny. Um, but yeah, I just kinda had like a one track mind. It’s like all I’ve ever wanted to do and all I ever wanted to focus my attention on.

Matt: Oh, nice. Would you say that it’s been like, obviously there’s probably been some hurdles and everything like that. Would you say that it’s been more so on like the good like increase, like you said, wanting to do this from the get-go having that kind of dream start in third grade? Or has it kind of been like a, I guess you can say like a rocky up and down type of deal,

Larissa: But in terms of my inspiration and my dedication towards it, is that what you mean?

Matt: Uh, yeah, kinda like that. And also just, I guess you can also say like the progression of going from wanting to do that in like elementary school, trying to start a band, trying to get it together and then all of a sudden to where you’re at now.

Larissa: I basically, I think the only thing holding me back was like youth and education. Fucking couldn’t wait to get outta school, to go to the city to actually really start, you know, making this a reality and, um, actually doing it. You know? I mean, yeah, it’s one thing to write songs in your bedroom, it’s dream, but it was really exciting, especially in the early days, you know, because like you, the things we’re taking off so quickly. Uh, we were getting picked up in press, our debut album premiered on the Billboard right after that. We were in France and Alternative Press. And it was just like so many little all at once. And we’re like, and you know, and that just kind of gets you the inspiration to just keep going, you know, almost obsessively. So, so it was, it was really exciting and I don’t know, we’re kind of a little nuts. We’re workaholics. I mean, it’s literally like the only thing that we think about.

Matt: I mean, that’s definitely gotta come in handy though, like you said with that type of like, dedication. And it’s been showing, I mean, I’ve been listening to, uh, the newest single nonstop lately. It’s been coming on all my Spotify recommended stuff. It’s on my Release Radar and I’m really digging it. It’s really good and, and it’s been funny too. Um, so my full-time job is I’m a teacher, so when I’m at school and I’m at work or whatever, a lot of my kids are kind of like you’re saying, they come over to me and they’re like, “Mr., when I grow up, I want to be this. I wanna do that.” And like you said, I feel like a lot of them are having that drive and that dedication for it. But it’s one of those things where I don’t think they realize like how much work needs to really go into it. Like you were saying, it’s one thing to just say, I’m gonna do this thing and do like it as a side project, but some of them are dead set serious on it. So, if you had someone come up to you and be like, “Hey, I want to be in a band just like you”, what kind of advice would you give them to start? Or would you offer advice? Would you give more of a mentorship or what kind of words of wisdom would you give them?

Larissa: I mean, I guess you just have to be resilient. Resilience is probably like the most important thing. It’s like, you know, a lot of people are gonna have a lot of opinions, but at the end of the day, you have to trust yourself in your artistic vision. Even, you know, when it comes to the time when you sign with management. Sometimes, you know, your artistic intuition is kind of the most important thing. Some people are gonna have a lot of things that they have to say that, you know, they think is is the best thing for you, but if it’s just not feeling right, it’s just not right. You know what I mean? So you can’t ever lose that part of yourself. And uh, at some point you, you just just kinda go with that feeling, you know?

Matt: Oh yeah, no, a hundred percent. I feel you on that. That’s really good though. I like that. So I think I read somewhere that on the newest song, I believe Luke Holland helped track drums or did he record drums or was it just in the video?

Larissa: Yeah, so Luke Holland tracked drums on our entire sophomore record.

Matt: Oh really? Oh, damn!


So he, he also tracked the drums on Void, which is the first one that came out.

Matt: Oh, really? Was that something that y’all wanted or was that kind of like a management suggestion or was that something from the get-go, you’re like, ” No, we need this, this is the guy for it?”

Larissa: So, management was like super hands off in that whole process. Essentially we’re on like radio silence for like three months, then we just turned in a record. Um, so yeah, that was just, that was totally our, our plan.

Matt: How was it working with them? Was it pretty easygoing? Was it like kind of just like nonstop building off each other? Or what was the experience like, if you don’t mind me asking?

Larissa: It was incredible. I mean, he’s obviously a genius and a prodigy and he’s like, you know what you’re gonna get with me is “I’m gonna come in guns blazing”. And that’s exactly what happened. He tracked all 12 songs in like a day and a half. And uh, honestly, he probably could have done it faster. It was like really cool. We said, “We kind of just want you to be you on this record.” He’s like, “are you sure? Cause like I might go a little nuts and it’s gonna be kinda hard to have someone play these live”, and we’re like, let’s just do this for the record. We’ll worry about that later. Um, so that was really cool just to kinda have like complete like creative freedom and like, some of the roles and like other songs, the record, I mean, they’re just fucking nasty.

Matt: So talking about this new record and everything, on this upcoming tour, are fans going to hear maybe a couple songs or two off this upcoming record?

Larissa: So this is our heaviest set yet. We’re actually only playing songs from the new record. We cut out all the songs endless. We’re definitely bringing the energy.

Matt: Oh, that’s gonna be fun. So in conjunction with the new songs and the new record, is there anything else, like on stage fans should be expecting? Like, are we going crazy, kind of like stage presence? Are you doing any, like, I don’t know, is there any pyro or anything like that gonna be coming out? Or are y’all just gonna go absolute just like ape shit on stage and just give a hundred percent?

Larissa: We’re all like, you know, ready to melt some fucking faces. It’s, it’s gonna be, I think the, the craziest thing. Anyone’s seen it from us so far. So we’re really, like I said, the show is, the first show is in two days. And my god, I’m so excited.

Matt: So, if you guys are interested for it, I don’t know how much Kyle’s gonna be able to answer due to driving or even if you just wanna take care of it. I got some fun questions if you’re down for it.

Larissa: Yeah, sure.

Matt: I know a lot of people have been interested in if you have any pre-show rituals, like, for instance, Stray From the Path always shotgun a Red Bull before they get on stage. Do you have any interesting things or you just like sit in the back cup of tea and as soon as it’s time to go, you just turn it on and go on stage?

Larissa: I mean, I basically just try to find something to eat. Cause I hate performing like hungry, but I don’t wanna be full. So I, I try to like plan it out like right as, as soon as we’re done with soundcheck. And then of course I like do my five minute vocal warmup, but then while I’m doing my vocal warmup, actually Kyle and our bass player will play like Mario Kart. I think they take like a pre-show nap and then it’s like couple round, get back in the zone. So I mean, that’s just kinda thing. It’s very chill, like nothing really crazy, you know. No sacrificing babies or anything.

Matt: Who do you guys pick as your main character in Mario Kart? I’m always picking, uh, Daisy. She’s my go-to. Who are y’all picking?

Larissa: So, I’m dry Bones and Kyle plays Link.

Matt: Awesome! So, next one. Obviously being in a band, you get to travel across the country, all over the world, all over the place. Is there a certain city or a state that y’all have been to and just love being there?

Larissa: It’s interesting thing is, uh, we don’t get a lot of, we don’t get to spend a lot of time like in the city itself, basically. We just remember what the parking lot looks like and what the venue looks like, you know, and maybe if there’s like some kind of cool restaurant down the street. Um, but I guess the venue we’ve played the most is probably Machine Shop and they’re like a second family for us at this point. I think we played there four times within the span of a year, so it’s like, “Oh my God, you guys were back again.”

Mat: Okay, easy one; favorite gas station to stop at.

Larissa: Buc-ee’s. Kyle just said Buc-ee’s. Hands down.

Matt: I’m happy you said that because when I moved here initially all my students and friends were like, you gotta go to Buc-ee’s. It’s the greatest thing ever. And I’m like, it’s just a gas station, it can’t be that great. But I went and I definitely spend too much money every time I go.

Larissa: Buc-ee’s is, its like own fucking planet, you know, everyone, they’re super happy and you’re like, God, what’s going on? Like, but it’s, it’s such a vibe, you know. I mean that’s basically best case scenario on the road. You wake up, you look out the window and you’re like, fuck yeah, we’re Buc-ee’s!

Matt: This leads me to my next one, and it might be from Buc-ee’s or it might be from another place. Do you guys have a favorite tour snack or drink?

Larissa: God, I dunno. What do you think Kyle? I’m kinda boring. I mean, yeah, he’s saying I just drink coffee. I mean, yeah, we, we are just kinda coffee all like, we actually have our own Back Satellite coffee too that’s roasted our hometown.

Matt: Is there anything, when y’all leave for a tour, you have to have?

Larissa: I’ll answer this one for Kyle. So, we were on tour last year and I don’t even remember where. I think it was some town called Beaver. I don’t even fucking remember what state it’s in, but basically it was like, I don’t even know what time, but the middle of the night, maybe like four or five in the morning. We were starving to death, but we had just driven all fucking night and everything was closed. So we go to this like really shitty like gas station truck stuff deal, like all the merch there said like, “I love Beaver” and we’re all just kind of making fun of it. And then there is this little coin slot machine thing with the like toys that come out of it. You know, you stick a quarter in, you turn the knob and there were all these like different colored little like plastic hedgehogs in there, like tiny little ones. So, I don’t know, we were just delirious and bored at this point. Kyle puts a quarter in gets one, he gets this tiny little pink hedgehog, he decides to call it Larry and then proceeds to photograph it. Like every venue we go to, every weird gas station we end up at. It’s just become like a tour thing. We just kind of bring Larry out on the road with us. So, definitely check our Instagram stories for an appearance soon. And for me we were like, we ended up at some mall and some tour and I had nothing to do, so I was like, oh, I’m just gonna spend money in Hot Topic for no reason and found this little cat, like a little green one. O was like, “Oh, this seems like a cool little friend to have in my bunk.”

Matt: That’s awesome. All right, so I got two more for you. All right. This one is, if you had the opportunity to either be featured on or have someone feature on one of your songs, who would it be? And it could be anyone you can think of any genre, any singer at any time period, a alive or dead.

Larissa: Oh God, this is really hard. Uh, there’s probably like, I don’t know if there’s a better answer, but the answer on on top of my head right now would be like probably Jonathan Davis. I am just curious to see what we would sound like together.

Matt: All right, on the last one, especially since y’all are driving, I won’t take up too much more of your time. Um, I’m a pulling a “Sean Evans” from Hot Ones and going to ask you to let the people know what’s going on.

Larissa: Well, as you know, we just dropped our newest single “Void” from our upcoming sophomore record “Aftermath” available on all platforms. Check out the music video. My background is actually in cinematography. I studied in college, so we are so hands on in our videos and we’re able to kinda create this really cool alien universe. So, please check out the video. We really put so much of our time, energy, and sweat into it. And, of course come see us on the super epic fucking run that we have with Cradle of Filth and Devil Driver, it’s gonna be our heaviest set yet. And uh, we really hope to see you guys there.

Matt: Thank you so much!

Larissa: Well, thank you so much for having me.

Matt: Absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time. I can’t wait to see y’all on the 22nd when you come here in Dallas. I’ll be sure to hit you guys up in case you need any me to drop off anything!

Larissa: It’s one of our favorite venues. We’re looking forward to it.

Matt: Awesome. All right, well thank you so much. Safe drive, guys.

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