Sunday, March 09, 2008

Santogold - L.E.S Artistes

Ace song, ace video, directed by Nima Nourizadeh. She seems to split opinion a bit, but I really, really like her stuff. Especially this and Creator, obviously, even if it is incredibly MIA-esqe.

Here's the interview I did with Santi for RWD last year...


Meet Santi White, who used to be in a band called Stiffed, but now goes under the name of Santogold, a punk/ rock/rap act that is nothing like MIA just cause she works with Switch and Diplo and has brown skin, ok? Confused? Let me clear things up…

More often than not, artists tend to leave the spotlight to head behind the boards. Linda Perry, Michelle Escoffery and Cathy Dennis have all ditched pop careers to go and write for the likes of Christina Aguilera, Artful Dodger and Kylie, respectively. In certain cases though, someone behind the scenes steps out to become their own artist. In the case of Santi White, the woman behind the gold-selling debut of Res, who has worked with man-of-the-moment Mark Ronson, the move to pick up the mic was just a matter of time.

“I like doing this because I like to hear how my songs sound the way I envisioned them, rather than through someone else,” says the Philadelphia raised, Brooklyn based singer of her new solo career. Well, we say new, but in fact White first made the move into performing a couple of years ago with punk band Stiffed. Following a split with the band though, she’s now rolling solo under the name of Santogold. “It’s hard to explain and it doesn’t fit into any category that I know of. All I can say is that there’s a lot of dub and a lot of new age, and my roots are punk rock so I think my vocal style can be punk rock too,” she tries to explain of her eccentric sounds. “There’s some electronic stuff in it and some indie rock stuff - I mean it’s everything. I don’t know how to define my music.”

Because of the sonic diversity, and the fact that they are mates, means some have compared Santi to fellow musical magpie, MIA. “Yeah, I don’t get it, but I just let people have fun with it if they want,” grins the 20-something year-old, who lists Lil Wayne as one of the finest rhymers of the last 10 years. “I think the fact that I have worked with Switch and Diplo, and they see bright coloured clothes and brown skin, it’s like ‘Are you M.I.A?’” She’s not mad with her mate though. ”I think she’s great, so it’s cool, but I think once people are familiar with my music, I won’t get it as much.”

Produced by herself, Diplo and UK heads including Sinden, Switch, Radioclit, tracks like the gorgeous, grungey guitar-led are indeed nothing like Maya Arul’s music. And Santi sings far more than she raps, apart from on the excellent where she waxes lyrical about those ‘fakin’ what you wish you had.’
Given her multi-coloured image, music and out-there MySpace, you have to wonder whether this whole project is more than just music? Is Santogold art as well as sound? “I think that art influences music and music influences art, so everything that I do is from an artistic point of view,” decides the girl who rocks everything from vintage T’s to Jeremy Scott separates, and spends time in the studio with dubhead Loefah as well as dancehall don, Don Corleone. “From getting dressed to performing on stage, I don’t think you can really differentiate it.”

Given her conceptual approach, is she concerned about the issues a lot of black artists have when they try and do indie? Apart from a couple of acts like Eminem and Lenny Kravitz, it’s been traditionally hard for people to cross into areas stereotypically considered ‘white’ or ‘black’ music. “No, not really,” Santi shrugs. “It’s a different kind of music, it’s a different time. I think record companies are different nowadays, I think they are finally figuring out that people don’t listen to one type of music. The same audience that buy Lil Wayne, are also interested in Daft Punk, so I haven’t really had that problem so far.”

Now signed to Downtown/ Atlantic records, appearing on the new Spank Rock EP, and having the likes of Stella McCartney using her track on the catwalk, it’s only a matter of time before you hear much, much more about Ms. Santogold. “I’m having fun, so whatever happens, happens. I’m just enjoying the ride right now.”

No comments: