Santigold, the multi-hyphenate known for her innovations in dance music throughout the 2010s, was one of many to take a break during the pandemic to refocus. In her first release since 2018, the musician returns with “High Priestess.” “I’ve been doing this song for the past two years during the pandemic, and I was desperately looking for that kind of connection,” says Santigold, who recorded the song remotely.
Layers of deep, booming hi-hat and drumming stand out with Santigold. “High Priestess” showcases the musician’s influences in glorious technicolor. In Santigold’s standard fare, lush vocal harmonies and edgy synths create warmth and depth to his brand of electronic dance music. This is a powerful sign of the importance of inner strength during a time of isolation.
Below, watch the video for “High Priestess” and keep scrolling for Santigold’s full statement on the song.
I had started working on this beat and didn’t have anything in mind for a subject, I just knew I wanted to do some sort of punk rap song (as dangerous as that sounds). My buddy Ray Brady and I started working on something, trying to add all the elements that made sense, kicks, subs, new wave synths. Boys Noize ended up bringing something super cool that really built the song and made me even more excited about it. It happened quickly, until it didn’t. The punk rock energy, the anguish, that I wanted to find was not quite there. I tried adding live guitar and drums, and it was a big red ”X” buzzer. I ended up tagging Psymun (Simon Christensen) who brought in Ryan Olson, and they brought in the last missing piece. The energy I was looking for couldn’t be the old version of punk rock, it had to be the future sound of punk rock. They brought the anguish, the push and pull that was missing, but it was very fresh and totally unexpected. It all fell into place in a way that I never could have imagined when we started, but that was exactly what I wanted to do. I want to make music that sounds like both the past and the future; music that makes you feel safe enough to jump in, but then takes us on a journey where we needed to go but never heard of. I want my music to be the bridge.
I like working that way, a joint effort, a meeting of minds and hearts to do something that is truly collaborative, more so than any of the parties themselves. For me, music is about community, it’s a way to connect, both in its creation and in its listening. I’ve been making this song for the past two years during the pandemic and was desperate for that kind of connection. I started working on it in my studio with Ray a few weeks before the first lockdown in 2020, but after that I was completely alone in a room. Part of the time I was in a room in a cabin in the middle of the woods in Canada, completely isolated. The technology was amazing, because I felt like I was hanging out with these guys all the time. My engineer recorded me on my computer in my remote studio. Boys Noize and I hung out on Zoom every day and talked and laughed more than we’ve had the chance to in years. I worked with Simon for the first time in this way, on Zoom with us in different countries, and I immediately understood what I like about him as a producer. It was like teleporting a vibe into the studio, being able to sit for hours face to face working on songs together.
I was also in mommy mode for months, and it was like striking gold having found a cabin to escape to during the days, to run away and be with music and friends after n haven’t had the opportunity to do so for months. to finish. It literally saved my mind. And that brings us to the name of the song. I called this song High Priestess because this song was about my greatness. I needed to witness myself in that moment, calling on my own power, my own courage, my own wisdom, because I felt like I was disconnected from it, stripped away of the rhythm of life that I had cultivated for myself, and pushed into this smaller, one-dimensional version of myself that had been rooted and isolated for far too long. The lyrics are fun though, rap lyrics in general, boastful, arrogant, but that’s what I was talking about underneath it all.