I met Satica in a quaint café in Chinatown, and as we talk, Ari Lennox’s “Shea Butter Baby” plays softly in the background. We connect over being Cal State Long Beach alumni and first-generation Americans. Though she is outwardly bubbly and receptive, I get the sense she’s also meticulous and strategic.
In a way, the Cambodian American singer has two personalities: Her professional résumé lists credits by both April Nhem and Satica. “My brother wanted to name me April after the Ninja Turtles,” she says, giggling. Though her mom decided on Satica, the cartoon-inspired nickname stuck. The theme of identity is front-and-center on her newest EP, dear april, ily, the title for which comes from her former AIM screen name.
As is true for many Cambodians in eastside Long Beach, Satica’s parents emigrated to escape Pol Pot, whose cruel regime killed an estimated 2 million people. Although her family left the brutality of the Khmer Rouge behind, they still carried invisible scars. “My parents were still struggling with PTSD and a lot of mental issues,” she says. “I just needed an outlet. It made me who I am.”
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