[MUSIC: Interview] Santigold
All That Glitters
By Simone Ziada
Four long years since the release of her debut album, Santi White is finally back with Master Of My Make-Believe – and talking to her it’s obvious that the Philadelphia-born artist is exactly where she wants to be: taking as long as she needs to make the music that she loves, for the fans she loves even more. “I feel really good about [the album], and I especially feel good that it’s finally coming out,” she says. “You know, it’s been a long process and I’m just so glad that it’s out already. It’s actually been done – or mostly done – for a really long time, so I’m so happy that people are finally able to hear it.”
A perfectionist in her own right, the four years between both albums was not intentional; after absorbing herself within the performing and finetuning of each facet of the new record, Santigold found out that time really does fly when you’re having fun. And if you ever get the pleasure to speak with her, you’ll know just how much fun this girl has – she giggled her way through the entire interview.
“Honestly, I toured for the first two years [after the release of 2008’s Santogold], so I took kind of like an extra year more than what most people do to tour, apparently … and I only realised that afterwards. But my manager at the time suggested that I keep touring because the want was there, and I was really grateful to have people that wanted to see the show. I thought that it was really important to build a real fanbase – especially nowadays when people’s tastes are so [individual],” she explains. “People are so trendy in their music taste, so when you have a real fanbase that’s something that can’t be taken away, really… So, I toured for the first two years, and then it took me about a year and a half to make the record, which I don’t think is that long – but I guess from the last release to this release, it does seem long. Now, in the current climate, it seems long.”
Like any good artist, Santi’s music is a true definition of herself, and if Santogold wasn’t a reflection of that, then Master Of My Make-Believe definitely is. Tracks like ‘Big Mouth’ and ‘Go!’, featuring the immaculate vocals from Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O, showed us what to expect from the upcoming album. Or so we thought – listening to Master Of My Make-Believe, it’s evident that there are a number of new influences that have helped shaped the singer as she delves into genres that we never though she would. Yep, she even tries her hand at her version of a ballad. “I didn’t set out saying, ‘Oh, I want to make it sound different.’ But it’s been a while [between records], and I’ve grown as an artist, and, naturally, I’m going to push myself to higher standards – I think that the music evolved ‘cause I’ve evolved. “Maybe I was a little bit more ambitious as well, trying to make songs that sound really big in some ways, like ‘Riot’s Gone’ or ‘God From The Machine’. ‘Riot’s Gone’ is quite a different song for me because it’s my version of a ballad, which I’ve never done before. I guess that I took some different kinds of risks.
“Life’s my biggest inspiration,” she continues. “Just life, and keeping my eyes open and paying attention. As artists, I think that we’re just left with extra sensitivity of everything that goes on around us, and how we process it. Most artists that I’m friends with anyway, we’re just extra sensitive to our environment so, as I’m living, there are things that I see and I notice, and they spark different ideas and lyrics… Just living in the world right now, there’s so much going on, to pay attention to and to write about.”
Known for collaborating with some of the music world’s most exciting artists and producers in the past, the calibre of appearances on this latest record is nothing short of astonishing – Diplo, Switch, Nick Zinner and David Sitek all appear on the album credits. “I’m very particular when it comes [to the people that I work with], because when I do collaborations, I want them to be good. I wouldn’t work with somebody unless I knew they were amazing.”
But what’s a good artist if their live performances don’t perfectly reflect, if not better, their recorded tracks? Well, Santigold wouldn’t know. With sets that get every crowd on the same hyperactive, dance-induced wavelength, Miss White understands what it means to keep her audiences entertained. “They’re high energy, and they’re fun,” she says of her shows. “There’s a lot of dancing and movement and also, visually, there’s a lot to take in. We’ve got costumes and props and dancers and a band… It’s decked out. It’s very visual, and I really try to give a physical presence to the songs.”
Listen to Master Of My Make-Believe and you’ll realise just why Santigold has the following that she does. We can expect Santi and her high-octane live performances heading Down Under very soon…
What: Master Of My Make-Believe is out now through Atlantic Records/Warner Music