Hailing from Philidelphia, Santi White has a fairly varied background in music. She has worked with artists from Jay-Z to Karen O, from Beastie Boys to Bad Brains, and many more. Her appreciation of music seems quite boundless, and may partially come from her studies in music at Weseley University as well as her short stint as a talent scout for Epic Records. Her music comes from soul and new wave mostly, having herself stated that she is inspired by the depth in much of the pop of the 1980s and her favorite band of all time being Devo. Despite that she still touches on so much other musical genres and collaborative efforts. Santi discusses growing up in Philidelphia and how that shaped her in this very recent interview Jack Daniels' interview:
In 1999 Santi collaborated with Wu-Tang Clan's GZA on a track from his solo album.
The track also features Res and in 2001 Santi moved on from being a talent scout to co-write and produce Res' album "How I do."
At around this same time Santi began singing in a punk/new wave rock band called Stiffed.
When 2002 rolled around White again collaborated on a track with GZA.
In 2003 Stiffed released it's first EP which started attracting attention with the New York scene and was very well received. In 2005 Stiffed released their full debut album Burned Again which was, like the previous EP, produced by Daryll Jeniffer of Bad Brains. Not long after the release of Burned Again the band broke up. Before the break up of Stiffed Santi had been approached by Lizard King to create a solo project and it seems like a fairly logical choice to do just that. Once the band broke up she started working with former band mate John Hill towards the goal of her solo album.
In 2007 Santi White appeared for the first time under a pseudonym Santogold. The first appearance of this nom de plume appears on Mark Ronson's cover of Jam's "Pretty Green."
She also released the singles "Creator" and "L.E.S. Artistes" before releasing her debut album, Santogold, in 2008. The album featured many collaborations, including an appearance by another former band member, Chuck Treece. Rolling Stone rated the track L.E.S. Artistes as the #2 single of the year, her album was very well received, and a few songs were used in US commercials. Throughout 2008 she toured with several different acts to promote her album, such as Bjork, Coldplay, and Kanye West. In 2009 Santogold had to change her name to Santigold due to a potential lawsuit from wrestler Santo Victor Rigatuso AKA Santo Gold.
In 2011 Santigold released the track "Go" which was produced with Karen O, of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She appeared on the final album of the Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. It's not really a surprise she'd appear on that album as she had been name dropped by the Beastie Boys as one of the artists that they had been working with to potential release a version of their instrumental album, The Mix-Up, with added vocals. The album never came about, unfortunately. There is an epic 11 minute music video directed, yet again, by Spike Jonze for the Santigold collaboration track. As usual Beastie Boys' music video is fantastic, though you barely ever actually hear most of the music itself beyond Santi's chorus line.
in 2012 she released the album "Master of My Make-believe." An album which Santi described as being about creating your own reality. The album was co-produced by Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio and was a wide success with critical and commercial acclaim.
In 2012 Stephen Colbert, of The Colbert Report, hosted his own "Rocktoberfest" type concert series known as "Stephest Colbchella '012: Rocktaugustfest" and Santi was one of the performers for the show.She also appeared for the second time in the adult swim show NTSF:SD:SUV as a time traveling secret agent.
This year Santigold released her third album, 99¢, a comment on consumption and packaging of artists and the things they produce. Her first song, Can't Get Enough of Myself, also is a satire and bit of commentary on our society's current social media attachments and bit of narcissism, but in a fun way rather than completely discouraging it and disparaging that we do it. The video also features an interactive aspect for those interested.
While she may come off as just a pop princess, her lyrics belie her true depth as an artist, and her interviews show the intelligence of her work. Here is an interview she did with Spin Magazine where she touches on some of the concepts in her latest album:
(Spin) Thematically, this record seems to be dealing a lot with packaging and how we attempt to brand ourselves. This is something you’ve dealt with before in your music, but it’s really at the forefront this time.
(Santigold): I’m not a big concept person in the beginning of my creative process. I started just writing songs and I found myself writing a lot about how conflicted I was about being an artist in this environment where it’s all about marketing yourself and being a product with every facet of yourself on display with a false perfection facade placed over it. Having to live in that place felt very unnatural and weird to me. When I was halfway through the record, I asked myself, "What’s this record about?” because it was time to start thinking about the artwork and overlying themes, and I recognized that it’s about this climate of narcissism where people are more interested in capturing moments than experiencing them, and where the lines between virtual and reality have become so blurred that people can’t tell the difference.
Perhaps at 40 you might think she is just out of touch with the modern generation, but she seems to have a good view on it from the outside, likely because she is just on the edge of that generation and uses it to her own advantage. Oh yeah, did you catch that? She is 40! Wow, I hope I look half that good at 40 years old, what a beautiful woman to start with and she ages amazingly, I mean 40 ain't old, but she could pass for at least a decade younger than she is. Add the even more important talent and brains and I've got to admit, I've got a bit of crush.
In an interview with Pitchfork she also mentions plans for a collab with Dave Chappelle, I'm pretty interested to see where that goes. Santi has appeared on the Office and NTSF, she has decent comedy chops. Music was always a big part of The Chappelle Show. Dave's interest in race relations also fits with Santi's college double major of Music and African American Studies, the whole thing seems like a perfect match.
Well, it's time to sleep, my eyes are chasing shadows.