Santigold on Consumption-Themed LP: ‘I Decided to Put Myself on Sale’
Prior to the release of her 2008 debut, Santogold, Santi White left her A&R job at Epic Records to pursue her solo music career as Santigold. Now, three albums later, she’s taken the experiences she’s had on both sides of the industry and filtered them into her latest record, 99¢. The album focuses on our culture’s fascination with consumption — a theme that’s become so prevalent in White’s life that she even put a price tag on herself for the 99¢ artwork. “You work so hard, and it’s just interesting to put yourself out there as a product: to put a price on all of your hard work,” says White.
Collaborating with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, ex–Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij and ILoveMakonnen on the album allowed White to realize a fun, funky sound — a deliberate break from the darker themes of her previous records. (The interactive video for “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” exemplifies Santigold’s turn toward the playful.) Before the release of 99¢, White spoke to Rolling Stone about the lighthearted approach she took on the LP, our consumption-driven culture and the changes she’d like to see in the music industry.
It’s been about four years since your last record. It seems like you really took your time on 99¢. Was that intentional?
I don’t know what the answer is — I don’t feel like I take my time, but then it’s always a long time [in between records]. I actually made the record in eight months, which is record time for me, and I had a baby, so I think the time I took was the nine months when I had a baby. I worked on music, but I got like two songs done in that time. After I had him, I sped through the record. To me, I was working and having a baby, so I think it was a quick turnaround.
Congratulations on your baby — that’s a huge life event. Is there any part of the record that’s dedicated to your son?
I think the tone is somewhat a part of the experience of being around him and having him in my life. He’s just so joyful and awesome. I feel like my desire to make a record that felt a little bit lighter and playful was part of the experience of having a new baby around. Then there’s one song called “Big Boss Big Time Business” where I call myself “Mama” the whole time, which wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have him. It goes, “Mama says what she wants.”