Satica Nhem said she’s been “shaking up what’s comfortable” lately, after making the big, big move from Long Beach to the Big Apple.

For the singer-songwriter, Cambodian-American, Long Beach native, she first worried that leaving the LA area for a new East Coast chapter would stifle her creative process or her sense of self (she is after all, the one who wrote that hauntingly beautiful ballad-bop: Ode to LBC).

Luckily, she says her move has done just the opposite.

On Friday, her new single “Show Up” with Luc de la Croixx dropped—and she recorded it in her Brooklyn apartment. It’s her first release in two years and it’s got some funky groove work that your ears won’t want to miss out on. Show up and give it a listen here.

In recent months, she says she’s been making connections and finding inspiration on the streets of Dumbo, Brooklyn and all over that Apple.

When I spoke to Satica recently, I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat behind the phone when she told me she’d picked up my absolute favorite pastime: Walking around, dissociating while listening to music. Well, she put it in more positive terms.

“I have more opportunities to just be on my feet and I have a destination and I’m getting lost in my headphones,” she said. “Versus like in LA or Long Beach … I’m driving in my car listening to music but there’s a different feeling when you’re moving your whole body.”

She’s been stacking playlists as she makes her way around the city by foot or by subway—a dramatic departure from car-centric-here. Lately, she said she’s been craving music that has movement and songs that don’t necessarily involve a lot of heady lyrics or intense themes.

Satica in front of Poly Burger. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

“When I was in LA, I was in a different headspace. There, it was more like I just wanted to capture emotions or have things be super wordy. Whereas this, it’s more like I’m trusting my intuitions. I want to make music where I can walk and detach myself from my brain.”

Before the move, she’d often write songs in her car, the shower or in the studio, on the spot, with others. But this sort of soundtracking of the movement of her daily life is already starting to alter the songs she’s writing in her head.

“I want to be in the moment, like, this is the soundtrack to all the things I’m observing,” she said. “I think I’m in a different era of maturity in my life. I can kind of forget about all the heavy stuff—if that makes sense.”

Here’s what’s been in Satica’s headphones lately and long before lately:

Q: Can you pinpoint the moment you realized that you wanted to be a musician? What memory springs to mind? 

A: I don’t have a particular moment “aha moment,” I have always been the hairbrush singing kid. I just remember singing as a child and being like, “This is it … This is what I’m meant to do forever.” Since then, I’ve dedicated my whole life around my art.

Q: If you had to pick a handful of albums that inspired you to start making music, what would they be?

A: Christina Aguilera – Self-titled album, Kanye West – “The College Dropout,” Tamia – “More”

Q: Favorite new artist? 


Q: Can you recall what was in your very first pile of CDs? 

A: I listened to all the CDs that my brother/sisters would buy, these are the ones I can recall:

  • Christina Aguilera- Self-titled album
  • Kanye West – “The College Dropout”
  • Sean Paul – “Dutty Rock”
  • Craig David – “Born to Do it”
  • Destiny’s Child – “The Writing’s On The Wall”
  • Blaque – “Blaque”

Q: Do you collect records or tapes at all? If so, what are the staples of your collection? 

A: Currently, I do have a small collection of records. My staples are Frank Ocean’s “Dear April,” The Temptations, The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”

Q: What records, tracks or artists are YOU into this week? 

A: This week I’ve been listening to a lot of Kid Cudi. I have “Willing To Trust” on repeat. I just found this song called “Living Room Waltz” by YTK that I’m obsessed with. And “Honeydew” by Isaia Huron. I also recently found this duo called DRAMA that I’m really inspired by.

Q: Who is your ultimate vocal inspiration? 

A: Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson

Q: What genre/era have you been digging into and learning about lately? 

A: I’ve honestly been leaning towards more funk and dance records, things that don’t make me think too much and I can move to and get things done. However, I still love my mellow songwriting centric songs when I’m in my feels like—Lizzy McAlpine or Ryan Beatty.

Q: You recently moved to Brooklyn, and Dumbo specifically. When we spoke, you talked about getting lost in your music as you explore new neighborhoods and sidewalks. During those adventures, what are you listening to? Can you name a few tracks? What’s the vibe? 

A: Here are just a few tracks:

  • “Dark Rain” – DRAMA
  • “Essence” – Miknna
  • “Be Easy” – Odeal, featuring Brazy
  • “Ce Soir” – Duckwrth, featuring Syd
  • “Change Clothes” – JAY-Z, featuring Pharrell

Q: What’s been your fall/October jam so far? 

A: Favorite is a hard one— “NO SZNS” – Jean Dawson and SZA.

Q: Do you miss us—I mean, Long Beach? 

A: Are you kidding? There’s literally no place like LBC. I miss home so much and especially the people but ya girl’s gotta get out of her comfort zone a little bit haha.

Q: So, you’ve got some new music coming out at the end of October, can you talk to us about it? What inspired it?

A: I actually made these next couple records in my Brooklyn apartment which was a huge accomplishment for me. I was worried that with the move, I’d completely lose my network to make music, but it turns out that moving here gave me more space to create.

I haven’t put out music on my own for two years for personal reasons, but I’m finally ready to be seen again and to be able to create it in a completely new environment and good timing with one of my producers staying in Brooklyn for the summer. It just worked out. Again, I wanted to make music to watch life happen and pass in front of you. Just switching up my lifestyle really inspired me to make something light and driving. I was constantly in a state of things happening very quickly in my life, which, at moments, were very overwhelming, so I wanted to make music that helped me move swiftly through those changes instead of slowing them down but make the movement feel natural/seamless and less abrasive.

Q: Now that you’re a New Yorker how do you expect that change might influence your music? What musical direction can fans expect from you going forward? 

A: I’m not sure if I can officially call myself a New Yorker yet, maybe in time but I definitely feel as if I will continue to explore my sounds and different pulses that the city has to offer. As I learn myself in different environments and expose myself to different music scenes, by nature I’m going to evolve. That’s the only thing that I can tell my fans to expect from me is that myself and my music will continue to evolve. What that will sound like, I’m not entirely sure but I’m excited to find out 🙂

We’ve created a playlist based off of Satica’s current and past inspirations. Find it on Spotify here.

The Hi-lo’s Hear to Listen is a series where you’ll be able to find new music recommendations from the most reliable sources: Long Beach music heads. Are you a Long Beach-based musician, DJ, record store worker, band director, choral singer, a person with an obscene record collection or just a local music nerd with good taste? Email me