Santigold (aka Santi White) returned to her punk roots for NPR’s latest edition Small office gig series, performing with a full band to reinvent tracks from her solo catalog, as well as one from Stiffed, the band she led before becoming known as Santigold.
Avoiding his usual setup of electronic backing tracks and dancers, White played with a three-piece band – featuring guitarist Ray Brady, bassist George Lewis, Jr. (aka Twin Shadow) and drummer Chuck Treece – as well as backing vocals Melanie Nyema and Stephany. More. Treece’s inclusion is significant because, as White noted at the start of the performance, he was instrumental in her musical debut.
“Chuck Treece here is a legend,” White said after she and her band performed a bold, swaggering rendition of her 2008 single “THE Artists.” . I was doing more songwriting at first, and then I was like, ‘Chuck, you know, I really want to make music that sounds like what I’m hearing in my head, and the only way to do that is to do it myself…’
“So Chuck wasn’t just one of the first black pro skateboarders, he had a band, McRad, which was a punk band. He played with Bad Brains – he introduced me to Bad Brains, I’m almost there. sure, who I did one of my first tours with when I started playing, and I wasn’t ready [for].”
White went on to say that it was “a goddamn miracle” that she got to play with Lewis, noting that their partnership is especially special “for us black musicians who try to do things that aren’t what [is] considered black music.
With his band, White has performed four of his own songs – two from his self-titled 2008 debut (including “I’m A Lady” in addition to “THE Artists”) and two from his recent fourth album, “Spirituals” (” Shake’ and ‘Fall First’) – as well as the Stiffed song ‘Ain’t Got Enough’.
A ska, no-wave, and hardcore punk band, Stiffed was the first project White played with (alongside Treece), and “Ain’t Got Enough” appeared on their only studio album, “Burned Again” in 2005.
On the overall importance of playing with a band – and going back to your roots by ending your set to a Stiffed song – White said: “Punk rock is very special to me. We don’t do a full punk set – we’ll do some punk songs – and I just think [punk is] really important right now.
“The most important thing…about punk is that you make your own rules, don’t you? And I think right now, more than ever in the world – when the systems are down – we need to be able to set our own rules and make changes; change the things we know aren’t working, and stand up when things aren’t right, and shout it out. And that’s what punk music has always done.
“And punk is raw, isn’t it? So there’s no perfection in social media, this and this and that, like, we have to get back to the truth – and punk was telling the truth. And introduce yourself. I know I have a whole outfit today, but you know, I was saying [earlier], ‘Dude, Chuck, remember? No makeup, no outfit, no hairstyle – you’ve just arrived at your show!’ I missed it so much. »
Watch the full set below:
“Spirituals,” White’s fourth album as Santigold, arrived in September. It was supported by six singles, including “High Priestess” and “Ain’t Ready”.
In a four-star review, NME Mark Beaumont wrote that the album “becomes more brutalist the further it goes, weaving its way from tropical space pop and cosmic reggae to the gothic R&B cranks and reels of ‘Ain’t Ready’ and , finally, to ‘Fail First’, a wonderfully New Order concoction of indietronic chug, industrial grunge guitars, spectral cheerleader chants and punkoid screams”.
White was to promote the “Spirituals” with an extensive “Holified” tour of North America. The race was canceled weeks after kickoff, however, with the artist citing difficulties with inflation and the changing post-pandemic touring landscape.