Who: Santi White, a Philly-born, Wesleyan-educated producer turned songwriter who used to play in punk band Stiffed, but now specializes in eccentric pop that’s a culture-clash of world music, blips and bleeps, and a healthy dose of reggae.
Sounds Like: Santogold merge White’s versatile voice (which recalls M.I.A. one minute and Karen O the next) with quirky, off-kilter beats. The result is a kaleidoscope of organic and synthetic sounds held together by White’s attitude-filled flow.
Three Things You Should Know:
1. White moved to New York in early 2005 after she lost her father and decided she needed to focus on her music. She started out as a songwriter, and has written with Lily Allen and Marc Ronson as well as for Ashlee Simpson. (Her current roster of collaborators includes hip beatmasters Spank Rock and Switch.)
2. Santogold was hand-picked by Bjork to open for the Icelandic pop star when she played Madison Square Garden this week. The show took place on Santi’s birthday, and the crowd sang to her. “After each show they do a little dance party backstage because Bjork likes to get her adrenaline out of her muscles,” White explains. “Each night a different person DJs off their iPod, then we had these dance battles in a circle. It’s like a pajama party dance party.”
3. White developed an early aversion to performing when she was traumatized during a high school choral recital. “I had a solo when I was fifteen and it was a fucking disaster,” she says. “I was so nervous and I didn’t have faith in myself at all. The first night, this other guy was supposed to sing the solo and he didn’t show up and they’re like, ‘You’re on!’ I wasn’t ready and I just hid my face onstage and my hands were shaking.”
Get It: Santogold’s as-yet-untitled debut album doesn’t have a release date, but you can check out the band’s music on their MySpace page and get your hands on the limited edition single of “LES Artistes”/ “Creator” as an import on the Lizard King label.