Anna Gevorkian and Shaunt Sulahian were “in a tough place mentally” when the two musicians wrote their new song, “Empath.” Drums crash into electric guitars with a pummeling Black Sabbath quake, pinches of Halestorm and Muse seeping into the arrangement. “Writing about it sort of eased the pain of what we were going through and gave us an outlet which felt incredibly therapeutic.”
You’ve danced with death for too long / You’re on the run from yourself, sings Gevorkian of her emotional and mental strain. What’s there to show for this pain? / Blood flowing straight to your brain.
“We’d love fans to understand that if they’re going through a tough time, they have the power to be proactive when it comes to asking for help,” the duo, known as Satellite Citi, tells American Songwriter. “There are ways to cope with a plethora of mental illnesses, but taking the first step to seek help is essential. Also, speaking about what they’re going through is equally important, and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.”
I heard death call your name / Why can’t you loosen the grip / I fear it’s you to blame, they continue to unknot their psychological states of being. What have you done to yourself? / I see your point of view / A silhouette of suspense / There’s nothing left to do / But break the walls off your fence.
Los Angeles natives, Gevorkian and Sulahian find themselves immensely empowered through their songwriting. “Crafting a melody, writing a riff, or just the sheer power that comes from jamming together is pretty magical,” they add. “Taking our dozens of musical influences and crafting something from that world while still trying to make things sound unique is a challenge we hold ourselves to, and taking on the challenge itself is one of the most rewarding/fulfilling parts of songwriting.”
Gevorkian’s fascination with music began when she observed her older sister playing guitar. “She really wanted me to learn drums so we could play together,” she shares. “Her motivation inspired me, as well as the musical mentors I met along the way.” Similarly, Sulahian was inspired by his family, once they realized “how much I enjoyed [music] at a young age.”
Together, the alt-rock duo shatter expectations. As they ready their debut record, Fear Tactics, out this fall, they offer up a few bits of songwriting advice. “Write from the heart. Listen to all genres of music, try to find something enjoyable in each one, and try to take those influences and craft something unique.”
Satellite Citi have also released a stripped version of “Empath” with an accompanying video (by Michelle Shiers). The clip flips between a seated musical performance and photos depicting their family and friends who’ve also struggled with mental health. “We thought it was important to create a symbolic visual representation in our video, as the world is slowly crawling out of one of the darkest periods in modern history, and there’s a responsibility that individuals have to be proactive and seek help when they are in a bad mental state. We want to join the fight to end the stigma surrounding various mental illnesses that affect so many people.”