Before the launch of Santigold's new album, 'Master of My Make-Believe', we met up with the New York songstress in her hotel room to chat about her favourite things in the world - which she had prepped in advance with a cheat sheet at hand. Tut tut. Having worked with the likes of Diplo, N.E.R.D., and Karen O in the past, the new album from Santi White sees her take on a new direction influenced by the current state of affairs and faces the challenge on how to take your own future in your hands. In celebration of our Santigold Day here with a mixtape from her DJ, Martelo, also check our interview with the talented artist and illustrator of her album cover artwork, Kehinde Wiley.
Can you recommend...
... three new acts?
Ha no, not even with my cheat sheet! I just don't really know that much about new music, I try but everybody I think is new is really from 2010. A$AP Rocky is kind of new, that was on my cheat sheet. I love that Beach House record, I don't even know if they had a new record since then, but I really like them and I can listen to the whole record which says a lot. I like that song 'Empathy' from Crystal Castles, I really like their last record. I like that song 'Slow' by Twin Shadow, that's newer than the Crystal Castles…
What about a fashion label?
Oh, I have a lot of those, do I have to choose one? I love Alexander Wang, I really like Rodarte and I love a lot of Meadham Kirchhoff stuff, sometimes it's like, not quite right, but sometimes it's amazing... I think they've got something really special.
And film? What was the last best film that you saw?
They both have Ryan Gosling which is really weird because he's not my favourite, I mean he's not my not favourite either! He's just doing really good right now, Drive was great, and then that Crazy, Stupid, Love movie with Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, that movie was so good, you should see it! It's like a romantic comedy but… the title is actually really not good enough for the movie, it's so well written and it's really good, give it a chance! I mean, I happen to have seen everything because I'll watch anything, but that one was a surprising winner.
... favourite book?
I can easily name my favourite book ever, and it's 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle' by Haruki Murakami. He's my favourite author, I've read almost every piece of fiction he has ever written and I love him. I'm reading his new book now but I haven't finished yet so I can't tell you if it's good or not.
...Something on Youtube?
Let me check my cheat sheet… Ok, this is a weird one but it's actually really funny, a friend sent it to me, you know how there's always these 'what someone says to someone' or whatever? There's this 'Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls' and the girl is so good. I've seen all the rest and they're not that funny but she's such a good actor and she pretty much nails it, that is the best of all those ones.
...Something to do on a day off?
Nothing, that's the best thing. On a day off, I sit on the couch with my dog and watch movies. And my husband, but sometimes he's not home so it's just me and my dog. But I love just watching movies all day, I don't get to do that very often so it's really fun, mindless.
...A song that everyone should hear?
I don't know… I would just say Tity Boi - (Spend It) - you know "I'm Riding Around and I'm Getting It?", that's a good one haha.
Your music fuses lots of elements from music genres, from punk to dub or whatever, do you go through kind of musical phases, of what you listen to, and if so what are you listening to now?
Yeah, I definitely go through phases. he phases aren't periods of time, they're like today I feel like listening to this, I don't know if that's a phase, I don't like to listen to the same thing all the time. Even if I've been listening to something, some kind of music for like an hour, maybe not because that's short, but three hours, two hours, then I just need to change it. I get bored with things in life, whether is my hair, my clothes… I just have to have a lot of things going on, otherwise I get bored.
Does location affect your songwriting, whether you're back home or traveling?
It does, sometimes it's way easier to write when I'm not at home, sometimes there's too much going on at home, like when you're just trying to do the things you have to do and be available to everybody, whereas if you are in Jamaica, there's just the ocean and you. There's clarity, you can actually hear your thoughts and lyrics come easier. Even L.A. feels like that sometimes because I'm only there to work so it will just be like, a very focused environment.
Did your home affect where your songs came from?
New York in general yes, I mean that's where I live and especially Brooklyn, there's no place like it and every time I go away and come back I feel like myself. There is just something to be said for, well, especially for a person like me, I've said I get bored and I don't like seeing the same thing. In New York from block to block you're getting different things all the time, there's just all kinds of people and all kinds of food and my neighborhood is insane, there's never a dull moment.
I walked outside and my car was stripped a couple of days ago, I couldn't figure out what was missing! I mean the window, the racks… and then my neighbour came out and he was like' damn, I didn't even know that was your car!' You know so, Brooklyn… they picked the lock, popped the trunk, then slowly they unscrewed every rack, it was like pro!
Anyway I love Brooklyn for that type of thing. But seriously though, there's this energy in New York that I thrive off of, there's so much movement. It's like the ocean, there's always fresh coming in, there's always a turning so it's constantly rewed and refreshed, there's always a new tide. Like everyone is coming to Brooklyn now, that's the new thing. There's just rhythm in life in New York.
Your new single is called 'Disparate Youth' - was that song written in reaction to the current climate or was that something you always wanted to explore?
I wrote this song in 2010 actually, but at the same time, I mean, I don't think the climate was that different and things kind of started bubbling to the surface after that, but the feeling was there, there was rumbling going on and there was a sense of 'man, shit is kind of falling apart'. You know, I felt it, and so I wrote about it, and then it really started falling apart. So it was kind of right on time, it's kind of like with the theme of my record 'Master of My Make-Believe', which to me was about the process of me claiming control of my creative process on the record and being the ruler of my creative world, and what I see for this is what it's going to be.
But beyond that, in the world it's like, I'm the creator of my reality, you're the creator of your reality, so what we see for ourselves, what we see for the world is what it's going to be, so you might as well take the reigns and really take control of it. So that's a song about the brave youth but shit, we're all youth! It's a metaphor for the future being in our hands and taking control of that and not just taking what's handed to you but really putting thought into it and making it into what you think it should be. Positive vibes.
Photography by John De Lima
GO! feat. Karen O
You'll Find A Way (A. Brucker & Sinden remix)
This Isn't Our Parade
I'm A Lady
Look At These Hoes
Pirate In The Water
God From The Machine
Lights Out (Remix)
Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win [Beastie Boys feat. Santigold] (Major Lazer Remix)
The Riot's Gone