Santigold Discusses Bjork, MySpace, and The Death of MCA
There's no such thing as the sophomore slump for Santi White, who has once again charmed audiences with the genre-defying Master of My Make-Believe. The album includes collaborations with members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Switch, Diplo, and David Sitek, as well as the infectiously catchy song "Disparate Youth."
Santigold's first performance in Phoenix falls on Monday, June 4 at Crescent Ballroom. The show has been sold out for awhile, but if you're intent on seeing Santi and her back up dancers, be ready to dish out upwards of $100.
We caught up with Santi White before she flew out to Sasquatch! to discuss MCA's death and how Myspace helped launched her career.
Up on the Sun: Tickets for your show in Phoenix sold out quite a bit in advance. Has that been the case for most of this tour?
Santigold: It depends. A lot of them aren't, we're doing a lot of secondary markets we've never played before. So really, the markets where we've played before, even though we haven't played in Phoenix, I think that venue is a nice size. A lot of the markets where we've played before, they sell out really fast. A lot of the newer, smaller markets, there's still tickets.
I saw you at Coachella last month and was blown away. What has your experience like as a performer at the festival?
It was really fun the first weekend because the weather was perfect. It was like 83, everybody's having a good time. The second weekend was fun, but it was hard. It was 110 degrees when we were on stage, so that changes the experience a little bit. It was kind of about survival and staying hydrated and moving a little slower on stage and stuff like that, but it was fun. I was amazed that people actually came out to watch in that heat. It was pretty awesome.
I guess I should be glad that I went to weekend one, then.
Yeah, it was really hot, but that's Coachella for you. It's a strange environment to have something like that because it's really insane during the day. Night is cool, but I heard the first weekend it was raining and cold weather and everything like that before Sunday.
Once your self-titled album came out, your name was everywhere and you seemed like an overnight success. Did the process happen pretty fast?
I guess so. Overnight success, there's so many levels of what that really means. I had been working on the record for like two years. I started getting attention for it before it was done and I was touring with Bjork before I was even done with the record. So I guess there was a lot of buzz as I was still making the record.
How did you get that buzz? Was it from working with artists? It's pretty remarkable to play with Bjork before you put a record out.
Honestly, back then I was on Myspace. That was in the beginning of when blogs really became a huge tool for underground music and Myspace really started ...before it shifted to Instagram and all of that. It's gone so far since then. But back then it was Myspace and people just find stuff and can ignite a fire, so that's what happened. I did work with producers, but part of how I got that was even through the internet, but I was also friends with Spank Rock at the time and I met a lot of people from here. I guess that was at the beginning of when that whole scene. It was early on, I'd say about a year before. It was a very fresh and exciting time for music and for artist. I just remember it being...it seemed like it was the beginning of something, and it was special at that time.
You've been compared to M.I.A. quite a bit. What do you think about those comparisons? Are you tired of them?
Yeah, I thought it was a pretty lazy comparison. I haven't gotten it so much on this record. Honestly, you're one of the first people to mention it this time around. I think that when I first came out, there weren't many references for people. People are always going to say what something's like and what it's not really like much that's out there. There's one other person that's the same, but different. It's an easy comparison. I think a lot of people just run with something and not really take the time to be like well, they're actually very individual artists. Like I said, I feel like that's part of what happens when you're a new artist. The longer you try to stay in the game, the more people start to view you just as your own creative entity and recognize what it is that you're doing that's special and unique and that's actually happening now.
I hear all sorts of different influences on your new record. In taking four years to record it, were you able to add in some various musical tidbits along the way?
How I think about music is just naturally...I don't think of it in a way that's separated by...my brain doesn't work like that is what I'm trying to say. I'm not like, 'Oh I'm going to put a little bit of reggae and a little bit of rock,' I don't even think like that. I think that it's something that happened a long time ago, the way all my influences turned into my musical DNA. It's a very natural and organic process for things to come out all mixed up, it's like my own musical language mixed up and there's no conscious effort in doing that. You've toured The Beastie Boys and you appeared on Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. How did you react to MCA's death?
Well, he's my friend, so I was really upset. I was kind of shocked because I hadn't talked to him in awhile and I knew that was because he wasn't doing that well. I'm not like one of his best friends, so obviously..i think when things get serious, you sometimes retreat to deal with the people that are really, really close to you. I hadn't really spoken to him in awhile. I didn't realize it was that bad, so I was a bit shocked, I was really sad about it.
Aside from Beastie Boys, who have been some of your favorite people to collaborate with?
I don't have one favorite because so many of them are so great for different reasons. I love collaborating with people I'm really good friends with, so I always like working with Spank Rock, Switch, or people like that. I loved working with The Beastie Boys because aside from the fact that they were childhood heroes of mine, they were just really great, great people. It really was the beginning of a friendship for me with those guys. That was a great collaboration. I liked working with Amadou & Mariam because it's very different from the type of sound that I normally do. It's really special doing collaborations with people. It's hard to say one favorite because each one is special in its own way.
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