It was early March, and Toese Satele Brewer had yet to settle into his new double-room apartment. His bed lay on the floor disassembled, leaving the room feeling hollow.
Right in the center of his dresser, however, was a makeshift recording studio, consisting of a MacBook, MIDI controller and mixer. It was also one of the few things Brewer, who goes by the stage name of Satele (pronounced sah-tell-lay) bothered to completely construct in his new abode.
That’s because the music producer finds solace and an escape in constructing beats.
Growing up, the Columbus producer struggled to find an identity for himself. He mentioned that despite his tall, athletic frame, he did not find enjoyment in sports like his siblings did.
“This is the only thing that I can actually figure out for myself, and it works for me,” Brewer said. “I don’t have to shoot free throws or anything to make sure that it’s myself.”
In 2010, Brewer’s senior year of high school, he discovered a way of expressing himself in the form of a previously unknown talent: a distinct ear for mixing beats. Upon attending an interactive multimedia career center during high school, the producer found comfort in being surrounded by other artists.
That experience marked the humble beginnings of Brewer’s music career.
Instead of hitting the books, the Columbus native remembered being engrossed in the recording app GarageBand during class at the career center.
“It’s the only thing that felt right to me that I could express myself doing,” Brewer said.
The producer’s boredom with school extended past high school, however. After slugging through three semesters at Columbus State, he said he lost all motivation to work toward a degree.
The music producer felt more purpose in making beats than he ever had in school.
Brewer said he felt that music was his true calling, so he saved up to purchase personal equipment. Part of setting aside cash for gear included saving three to four months of Best Buy paychecks and his tax return for a laptop: a basic, yet essential tool for beat makers.
Just four years into his music career, Brewer came to a decision unavailable to some and unwanted by other local, independently minded musicians of Columbus: He signed on to his first music label.
While receiving a haircut at a local barbershop during the summer of 2014, Brewer was tipped off by his uncle that one of the barbers, Columbus hip-hop pioneer DJ O Sharp, worked as an A&R music scout for locally-owned-and-operated music label Polar Entertainment.
Brewer slipped O Sharp some of his beat tapes, and upon hearing the work of the young producer, a personal and business relationship was born.
“What made me sign is that they had a bigger reach than I had,” Brewer said. “It was moreso they were trying to really help me push my brand and push my sound.”
O Sharp initially pointed out to Brewer that his sound, an even mix of modest electronic sounds and classic boom-bap hip-hop beats, needed to extend to the foundation of old-school rap beats, which is a staple of the Polar Entertainment brand. This included sampling jazz-rap trailblazers such as A Tribe Called Quest.
O Sharp saw that Brewer’s new-age electronic beats — heavy on strings and keyboard — could bridge the gap between modern rap and the roots of the genre.
“I want to be able to break any barriers, create my own lane and help other producers or other artists or other creatives do things with the platform I’m creating for myself,” Brewer said.
Polar Entertainment gave him a boost to do so, providing Brewer with a steady flow of live performances, with a gig at least once every month since October.
“BreakOut,” the intro track to Satele’s third project, “iLife²,” is a beat that Brewer said encapsulates what he defines as “his sound.” The high-pitched hits of staccato keys combined with evocative, yet modern, hiccup noises captures how Brewer is attempting to fuse old with new, jazz with electronica.
The track is the spark that ignites Brewer’s breakout. He is planning to do that with the backing of the release of a new beat tape this upcoming summer.
The Columbus producer has formed a musical identity with help from the old heads at Polar, which has him feeling comfortable with his image moving forward.
Satele will be performing at The Summit for the third installment of The Wicked + Divine, an event that mixes live producer sets with performances from singers, bands and groups. The concert will take place on April 23, with doors opening at 10 p.m. and free admission for ages 18 and up.