When Westword last spoke to Santigold, she was learning to balance motherhood and artistry after having her first child, Radek. Her family and art have expanded; she now has twins she's leaving behind for tour.
Westword caught up with Santigold to talk about this anniversary tour, how culture and music have evolved since 2008, the advice she would give her younger self, and how her art has changed since she became a mother and had twins.
Westword: How do you feel ten years in?
Santigold: I have a lot of feelings [laughs]. I’m proud of the work I’ve done. I feel excited to do new things and branch out further and further. I feel really glad people are still interested in the music I made ten years ago. I'm excited to go and connect on that record and play the whole thing. It’s a fun endeavor.
Why did you decide to pay homage to your first album on this tour?
I think it’s a landmark. It was an important album that laid the groundwork for a lot of what happened in music over the last ten years, in terms of doing away with genres. I think music has gone in that direction, and breaking the mold that existed prior.
It was a turning point in music and culture when that record came out in 2008. There was a lot going on politically in the world, and it was a hopeful time. In music, in fashion, and culture — it reflected that openness. It’s nice to celebrate that, but also to remember that hopefulness and creativity at this time, as well.
Do you think the culture is less hopeful now?
Yes [laughs]. It’s kind of rough now.
How does it feel less hopeful to you in your day-to-day and when you go to create music?
It’s hard to stay up right now. If you look at the news, I can’t even watch it because there’s so much negativity on the news. Whether it’s politics, immigration, the environment, hate crimes — it’s an overload of negative things in the media. It’s hard to not feel paralyzed by it.
Social media for a lot of people can have a negative impact. Especially on youth culture, where people are still developing identity and a sense of self and are just being bombarded with polished images of other people’s lives. I find a lot of young people are struggling with depression.
It’s a hard time, and I feel like we are doing things that feed that. We can change it if we change our perspective. But with the way technology, culture and capitalism are moving, everything is moving away from the perspective we need to have.
For me as an artist, I try to build a protective shell around myself so I don’t get ruined by it. You can get really jaded and really dark. Whatever you focus on grows. You seed energy to whatever you’re focused on. If we could learn to focus on the positive, even if it seems smaller, it will grow.
If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself after you debuted your 2008 album?
I would give myself advice that I’m still trying to follow. I have a really hard time with letting go a little bit. Don’t take it all so seriously. Let go and enjoy the ride a little bit more. Don’t worry about things being perfect.
All things that happen in the world and in our lives, we have judgments on being a bad or good thing. But, really, everything is a door to something else. You don’t know if the bad thing is clearing space for good. It’s learning to just take it all in as it comes without judgment on it. It’s a lesson I’m trying to learn every day.
I remember there was a poem about this tree that loses its leaves in the fall, and it doesn’t feel sad. It grows back beautiful flowers in the spring, and it doesn’t feel proud. It’s the same tree and the same peacefulness during the entire year.
I find it curious that you struggle with letting go, because your music moves so freely and is spontaneous in sound.
I think my music comes from a higher place that knows how to do things. Music comes from the part of me that knows what’s up. The other part of me, that daily Santi, is a crazy perfectionist, hard on myself. Nothing is ever good enough.
Your social media is filled with you as an artist and you as a mom. How is your role of a musician influenced by your motherhood?
Well, I think in general, a thing about motherhood, it makes you care more about the future. Not that I didn’t care before, but now it’s urgent. You want the world to be livable and to be nice. You become very efficient with your time.
At the last studio session I did, I was
Other than that, it’s hard to be a mom and an artist. So much of an artist is being introspective and having the time and space to go deep. As a mom, you don’t have much space. But no matter what you're writing about, it’s still an introspective process to get it to come out.
Do you find yourself writing about different topics since becoming a mother?
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Honestly, I don’t find myself writing at all right now. I have twins that are one [year old].
That’s a whole added layer of difficulty, to leave them for the tour.
When you asked "How are you feeling?" Which layer? There’s so much. It’s so much to juggle right now. Even on the physical aspect of having had twins, your body is so worked over. I just need to get it back to be recognizable and move properly, get my voice ready [even when] I don’t sleep at night.