Santi White is no stranger to the music industry. She has worked for years as a producer and songwriter, writing lyrics for pop superstars such as Ashlee Simpson and Lily Allen, as well as collaborating with Julian Casablancas of The Strokes and Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D. Her debut album as Santogold has shown that she has incredible talent as a performer as well. Her album Santogold was released in April 2008 and has been gaining popularity steadily since.
Santogold’s album has such a unique blend of styles that it keeps the listener involved in the music through its entirety. It becomes obvious early in the album that White was greatly influenced by 1980s New Wave, Ska, Punk and Reggae. Tracks like “Lights Out” and “You’ll Find a Way” are reminiscent of groups such as The Clash and The English Beat, because of their ska-punk vibes. They’re smooth with a carefree flow and equally carefree messages, sporting lyrics like “We’ll make it easy/We’ll make it fun,” which Santogold most certainly does.
The 80s was not the only era that White seems to have drawn from for creative inspiration. A specific band that Santogold takes a direct influence from is the Pixies. “My Superman” is a lazily-paced, base-driven track, which is common in the Pixies’ sound. A bit further along in the album the track “Starstruck” brings a science fiction feel, usually adopted by the Pixies. Both songs make use of slow synthesized beats that drift in and out of the listener’s consciousness, much like the well-known “Where Is My Mind?” from the Pixies’ album Surfer Rosa. The steady rock drums of “L.E.S. Artistes,” the album’s opener, is another Pixies-esque track.
In addition to 90s alternative rock and grunge, a hint of the concept of noise bands-such as My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth-is added to the mix. Although Santogold’s tracks are more organized and solid than that of most noise bands, the idea of ambient sound and the experimentation with noise is obviously something drawn upon in the composition of Santogold.
Santogold tends to be situated in the NYC hipster scene. She is often compared to the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, the Sounds, and mostly M.I.A. “Creator” and “Shove It (Feat. Spank Rock)” both echo the stylization of M.I.A. The intense beats and swirling synthesizers paired with White’s pseudo-rap vocals are right down M.I.A.’s ally. “Shove It (Feat. Spank Rock)” seems to be the album’s most alluring track. Its lyrics cater to the elitist attitude of today’s youth, giving the listener an overwhelming sense of being a badass. And with a chorus like “We think you’re a joke / Shove your hope where it don’t shine,” who wouldn’t? Although it is pretentious, it is also empowering.
Santogold’s music is being featured in more and more advertisements and entertainment media, showing up in TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl, and appearing on musical soundtracks for clothing stores like American Eagle Outfitters. Her sound reeks of trendy and no doubt will continue to grow in popularity. With her experience behind the scenes of the music industry, it is likely that her savvy will carry her to great success in the future.