Words: Robert Brink / Missbehave, April 2007
Santi White, the singer, had her first performance at a mock hair salon fashioned from a bathroom closet. She was 7. "I had hair supplies and perfumes all lined up on the floor, and drew a couple pictures for the walls," begins the Philly-bred, Bed Stuy-residing songwriter, "I think I even put up 'Grand Opening' flyers around my block and was kinda bummed when no one but my little brother came on the big day." Couple years after her humble entrée into a tough business Santi White, at 9, began writing songs. "I never wanted to be a performer or anything," says White. "But it makes sense [since] I really hate office jobs."
She learned the last fact after a couple music industry internships, record label gigs, an e-commerce business and working at random art galleries during college. It was during these years that White founded and fronted the punk band Stiffed. She executive produces for herself and other artists (including last month's Missbehave cover gal. Lily Allen), owns a music publishing company, and just wrapped up her latest solo project, Santogold, slated for a late spring release on Lizard King Records. The latter was done with help from a few Stiffed members, Clifford "Moonie" Pusey from Steel Pulse, Disco D, Switch, Spank Rock, and her boyfriend, pro snowboarder, Trevor "Trouble" Andrew. And you thought you were busy and had a deep buddy list, right?
Admittedly a pop artist (in that she wants as many people as possible to know her music), White doesn't adhere to the philosophy that pop has to be "disposable" and "lacking substance." A fact she clearly delineates in her musical influences. "Artists like Blondie, Prince, and The Police were all pop artists," clarifies White, "but they wrote brilliant creative music as well and I want to bring the art back to pop and take it back from the wasteland it currently resides in."
Though this is a monumentally ambitious task in an age when Brooke Hogan can land a recording contract, seeing what Santi's accomplished thus far, all before the age of 30, she might actually be able to pull it off.