In the Studio: Santigold: “It’s a very narcissistic time”

Santigold:  “It’s a very narcissistic time”

Philly’s left-field pop queen is back, with her consumerism obsessed third album, and a dream team of producers behind her.

With no apparent new album to hawk - just a magnificent gingham outfit modelled on a fried breakfast, and an urge to throw a welcome back party - Santigold made her return to the UK earlier this year at Latitude. Behind the scenes, though, the Philadelphian has been quietly working on the follow-up to her 2012 record ‘Master of My Make-Believe’. In one loud, brash, typically larger than life statement, she returned with lead single ‘Can’t Get Enough of Myself’. “Ain’t a gambler but honey I’d put money on myself,” she announces over tootling flutes, and squelching, bouncy castle basslines. It’s verging on cock-sure, if not entirely straight faced.

“I think it’s a little bit sarcastic,” laughs Santi. “It’s silly. You can take it two ways; I can’t get enough of myself, I’m still confident. Or, you can take it as a comment on this era where everyone is constantly selling themselves, constantly obsessed with themselves.” she expands. “It’s a very narcissistic time. It’s one thing that people don’t even watch the concerts any more,” she goes on, laughing, “they just want to capture it on their phones. You play to a sea of phones. It’s a whole other experience now” she hoots. “Now they don’t watch the show, they turn their backs to the show! They take a picture of themselves in front of the stage.”

The fast-forward change in how rapidly we consume things is at the centre of Santigold’s third album, ’99¢’. On the artwork she’s packaged herself up as a shrink-wrap product, on sale for a cut price. It is, Santi says, a clear nod towards the ways that rapidly developing technology affects her place in the world as a musician and artist. “It’s something you really need to pay attention to and understand,” she agrees. “I grapple with it, trying to get my head around it. What I love is art, this is why I’m doing this,” she adds. “Quickly you realise that there’s so much more to it, and it’s very much about you as a product. It’s a big issue I think about all the time.”

“Art is very much about you as a product. It’s a big issue I think about all the time.”

— Santigold

In approaching ’99¢’ Santigold took a deliberate step outside her comfort zone, too. Though familiar faces like John Hill and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek appear on the production roster, she enlisted a whole rabble of new names. Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Justin Raisen, and Patrik Berger - among others - appear in the production credits. Though they fit together as logically as wotsits and strawberry jelly on paper, “we just found a real common ground really easy, they were all so well-versed in the music that I like,” says Santigold.

Patrik Berger has so many similar influences,” she says. “A lot of the songs we’ve been working on together had a lot of African music elements, ‘Can’t Get Enough of Myself,’ even. Then with Justin [Raisen] I walked in, and right away he was like, ‘why don’t you write punk rock!’ I was like.... ok!”

“I think throughout the record I’m all over the place stylistically, “ she adds, “which is pretty normal for me. It’s what I enjoy the most about my Santigold sound is that I’m really happy moving stuff around, and it can all find its home on the same record.”

“I needed to feel a little freer than I had in the past,” Santigold goes on. “I was interested in having a good time making a record. It’s not like this was fun, and the other times weren’t, though” she laughs by way of disclaimer. “It was great to work with new people, because there was a lot of fresh energy. When you come in there for a third record, you really need it to feel new.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever bought for ’99¢,’ Santigold?

There are whole lot of things I recently got for 99¢! They’re all in conjunction with stuff I’m doing for this record - I bought a bunch of products for the cover. They’re not my favourites, though. When we were shooting a video recently for ‘Chasing Shadows,’ in the store they had those toy machines. They had these Beavis and Butthead balls. I got one for 99¢, and I was so excited about it.

Santigold's third album '99¢' is out on 22nd January via Atlantic Records.

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