Photo courtesy of Craig Wetherby
Every once in a while, an artist comes along and literally steals your soul. Unless you’ve been captured and brainwashed by a religious cult in the past year, chances are you’ve heard the name Santi White, or SANTOGOLD mentioned well over a few times. Not surprising. Her name has been splashed throughout internet land with coverage on a slew of blogs and spots in Fader and I-D magazine. I’m not the first to feature her, nor will I be the last and instinct tells me that she’s about to go off the richter scale!!
This Philly bred, now New York based singer/songwriter is something of a rarity amidst all the music of today. It isn’t everyday that an artist crosses genres and tackles them as swimmingly as Santi White has. From her previous punk band, Stiffed, (now defunct – absolutely loved them) to her recent project Santogold, Santi has worked with a list of noted talent that includes Mark Ronson, Switch, Sinden, the late Disco D, Freq Nasty, Naeem Juman, XXXchange from Spank Rock. She has co-produced with Res, Gza, written lyrics for Lilly Allen and worked with her boyfriend Trouble Andrew. Gasp!! This gal has taken the lead.
Reminiscing my past love for hardcore punk, and Bad Brains is what prompted me to post this video by Santi’s old band, ‘Stiffed.’ A glimpse of her past work and performance style which has a flair similiar to that of H.R. from Bad Brains. Interesting to see how Santi has been able to reinvent herself so successfully.
Stiffed – “A Day With Andrew”
And the ever popular track from Santi’s latest project:
If you’re fiending for more of Santi’s inimitable style and down to earth nature, read on for an interview and keep your eyes peeled for her self-titled album Santogold, slated for a late spring release on Lizard King Records and a tour with MIA and Amanda Blank!! (these hot ladies are sure to make you melt, like cheese) xx
Lovestar: Upon doing a google search for ‘Santogold,’ the first entry I came across is an odd site about a man named Santo Rigatuso, who in the mid-80′s, tried to sell fake gold chains & promote his alien movie, Blood Circus. (ha!) Does the name Santogold have anything to do with that?
Santogold: Santogold was a nickname that I got when I was younger cuz I used to wear these huge gold name earrings. My friend who made it up said she got it off an infomercial for cheap gold, and that was it.
LS: What lead you to make the switch between your last ska-punk band, Stiffed, to Santogold, more dance related music?
SG: Well, Stiffed broke up, and John Hill (the bass player from Stiffed) and I just started writing a bunch of new material that was more dub influenced than the Stiffed songs had been, and using a lot more program drum and synth sounds. And since it wasn’t a band project, we had an opportunity to work with a bunch of different producers who all brought new elements to the table. And some of those tracks are definitely more danceable than Stiffed’s live rock sound, though I would definitely not call Santogold a dance project. This record is still very rock and dub influenced, though we bend and twist those elements all over the place.
LS: You’ve worked with some amazing producers–Mark Ronson, Switch, Sinden, the late Disco D, Naeem Juman, XXXchange from Spank Rock. You’ve co-produced with Res, Gza, written lyrics for Lilly Allen. Who would you like to do a future collaborative project with?
LS: Do your lyrics come from personal experiences or do you keep that separate?
SG: I’m sure they do, even if not always directly.
LS: You seem to have a good sense of sound, twisting it enough to make it interesting and new. What are the most important elements you strive to show through your music?
SG: I’m really interested in rhythm and melody. My delivery is always rhythmic and based largely around the bassline. I also love old grimy analog sounds, which is why I derive much of my style from punk influences. And as far as melody and vocal sound, I like playing with my voice and challenging myself to find new vocal sounds and styles. I also love awkward harmonies.
LS: What are a few things that matter most to you?
SG: Thoughtful lyrics and good sounds
LS: You have dabbled in many things pertaining to music–from writing lyrics, producing, singing. Which do you like best? If you haven’t already attempted, do you forsee Dj’ing as so many often seem to end up doing?
SG: I’m not really interested in DJing, though that was what I first thought would be my relationship to music, before I ever imagined I would be an artist. The first piece of music equipment I bought was a turntable, but I’m way more interested in making music than playing music for people. Especially because I don’t go out much anyway. I like writing for myself and performing best.
LS: When you have some free time to travel, where do you love to relax?
SG: I love Hawaii, and my bed when my room’s clean.
LS: It’s 2am on a Saturday evening, in a city that never sleeps–where are you hangin out?
SG: Probably sitting in my bed working on my computer. I pretty much work until I pass out.
LS: What does the future have in store for Santogold?
SG: God only knows!
Voltaire said, “To enjoy life, we must touch much of it lightly.” Santi White is doing just that.