Santigold has worked with everyone from EDM godfather Diplo to hip-hop legends Beastie Boys to underground-turned-mainstream rapper ASAP Rocky and has written songs for pop stars like Lily Allen and Christina Aguilera.
Her 2008 critically acclaimed debut, Santogold, solidified her as a genre-defying songwriter who makes it her point to rail against the very industry she's worked so hard to infiltrate, capitalizing on her left-field pop sensibility and punk-informed Philadelphia roots to create electronic music that's both accessible and completely out of the blue.
In short, we already knew the indie-pop singer, rapper, songwriter, and prolific collaborator who was born Santi White is a pretty huge badass. But here are five more things you may not have known about her that really make Santigold stand out from the rest of the oversaturated indie-electronic crop.
5. She graduated from Wesleyan University.
If stars like Kanye West are any indication, it doesn't take a college degree to make it in the music industry and also earn the respect of your peers and critics by making music that says something. But it certainly doesn't hurt. Santigold graduated from the small Connecticut liberal arts college Wesleyan University in 1997 with double majors in African-American studies and music, proving women with brains can carve out their own spaces for success in the cookie-cutter pop business.
4. She worked as an A&R rep at Epic Records.
Before she started writing music for herself, Santigold started her music career as a talent scout at NYC's Epic Records. In a recent interview, she explained to the Chicago Tribune, "First I wanted to be A&R [a talent scout] because I wanted to sign and develop a certain kind of artist. Then I wrote songs because I couldn't find good songs for those artists. Then the songs didn't sound like they sounded in my hands when other people did them, so I thought I'll sing them myself. That's what led me into this place. It's such a backward path."
3. She was the lead singer of a punk band.
After her stint in A&R, Santigold began exploring her talent as a performer by leading up vocals for Philly-based punk band Stiffed. Active from 2001 to 2006, the group incorporated elements of new wave and no wave and amassed hype for its debut album, Burned Again, which was produced by Darryl Jennifer of D.C. hardcore punk legends Bad Brains. While Stiffed was short-lived, its buzz helped launch Santigold's career as a solo artist.
2. She'll turn 40 this year.
Let's face it: Women in pop past a certain age tend to get left behind, dismissed as somehow less relevant or viable while their aging male counterparts gain respect and are generally spared the overt commentary on their appearances. But that's not always the case. Santigold keeps her sound fresh, constantly experimenting with different producers and new styles and processes, while her visual style always pops with bright colors and unexpected cultural references. Even though it seems like she's only been around a few short years, Santigold is a music-industry veteran and a badass woman with staying power.
1. She's a mom.
Between her second and third full-length albums, Santigold had her first child. While she's spoken at length on the crushing pressure on artists to constantly produce, she hasn't let that stop her from living her life exactly the way she wants to. "God forbid you decide to have a life and have a kid or something — when are you gonna do that?" she told Complex in an interview earlier this year. Still, Santigold hasn't lost any of her razor-sharp focus, dropping 99 Cents this past February, on which she explores themes of modern consumerism, identity, and our relationship to technology.
With DonMonique. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $26.50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.