Here we speak to effervescent funk merchant SaNTINO ahead of his solo live show at the Sunday Joint. Born onto the information superhighway, and now speeding along it at 1000 miles per hour, the Leeds College of Music student, is a sucker for online culture. From digitally produced noises, all the way through to memes, his art encompasses the phenomenology of “surfing the web”, becoming a luminous pool of sickly-sweet sounds and images just begging to be plunged into. We spoke to him over e-mail, naturally.
Much of your music leans towards several different dance genres, from classic funk and disco to dubstep and trap. Do you go clubbing a lot? If so, where do you go and what do you like to hear when you are out?
“You really won’t find me in any clubs unless I’m DJing tbh haha. The same with gigs they’re all just way too loud. I don’t drink either (unless it’s champagne (on ice)) so that side of it doesn’t appeal to me. I do love the art of EDM but in terms of dance music I’m really stuck between 1978-1989 haha. My sound is really a mixture of a load of stuff I hear on the internet – when I listen to music live I like to get pumped up and just go crazy but that funk feeling is absolutely undeniable so it just had to be in the mix.”
How did you come to employ a bleepy, bloopy sound? How are these sounds made?
“VIDEO GAMES. There’s a certain sense of nostalgia I feel from those sounds and in general I like to say just as much with sounds and textures than with lyrics. There’s also a shared database of knowledge with things like this because if you have played this game, or watched that anime and I put those two samples next to each other, I’m saying something that only you and me can viscerally feel and understand. I spend absolute hours getting really nerdy into my synths and tweaking them to get the perfect bleep. My sound is essentially a mix of the Yamaha CS1X, Korg MS-20 mini, Massive, Korg Polysix and a boatload of sounds and samples I got from digging through Reddit haha. In all honesty though, my most favourite synth to play with is Logic Pro X’s Retro Synth!”
Your music is incredibly dense and multi layered – how do you translate it into the live setting, if you are a solo act?
“With great difficulty! I try to play as much as I can live so obviously all of the vocals are live and I’ll take certain parts out of the songs that I’ll replace with my synths. I’ll also keep certain parts purely for live! Because it’s mainly electronic, I didn’t want to get trapped behind my loops and toys and I wanted to keep that freedom that a live band would have. So some songs will have crazy breakdown sections, extended guitar solo sections, mad midi-synced arpeggios, I’ll jump around and go crazy on stage and all the live effects are done in real-time. It really helped learning how to DJ because now I’m really comfortable using electronic equipment to entertain a crowd and that’s just how I see it; as long as everyone is having a good time and you’re being completely honest with who you are on stage, no one is really watching what you’re doing; they just wanna feel good and be entertained!”
In your ‘Girls’ music video, you talk to several versions of yourself. Do you feel that this is what performance is about, really?
“I think I’m just a bit of a narcissist haha. I just found it funny that a solo artist could fall out with himself and employ a band instead.”
Why do you describe your music as ‘shiny’? Is this intended to be ironic, considering the materialistic climate we live in? Or do you embrace a bit of polish and bling?
“What a question! You guys can interview me anytime! I think that’s a perfectly valid reading of it. Music and art is inherently political/economical, so I prefer to let the reader make those assumptions rather than me explicitly saying it because – in my opinion – it lessens the art. It just becomes rallying. All I do is try to make sure that people at least feel something when they hear my music.”
The artwork you use for promo would also fit this shiny description, with strong references to pop culture and fashion. Do you create these yourself? Could you tell us the inspiration behind them?
“I’m absolutely fascinated by pop culture and aesthetics! Especially aesthetics from the 80s! It’s like I’m nostalgic about a time that I wasn’t even born into. If you look at 80s anime, Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura etc. you’ll find direct references in my visuals haha. I’m constantly changing though because I have sooo much I want to say, this is just one phase of what I’m doing. To me, all art comes from the same place, be it music, visual, fashion, dance, so when I have an idea, it’s just the fact that I’ve spent the most time learning the music craft and learning about shapes and silhouettes in fashion. If you don’t understand what I’m saying musically, you’ll get it visually, or you’ll watch me perform it and then you’ll definitely understand it. As I grow artistically, everything is just going to get bigger, better, more clear and shinier haha. Much of the recent promo pictures were a collaboration between me and the amazing Lord Whitney though! Everything from now on will be created by me.”
I detect a northern (Leeds?) accent in you. Where did you grow up, and what music were you exposed to?
“I’m a Leeds boyyyyyy through and through!! I used to be that kid in school that was like “nah I don’t really like music” because all I knew was the radio haha. It was as as soon as I realised what an album was, and what the internet could be for (Limewire liiiiife) that I really started getting into it. I learnt guitar because of a band called Tool and I was naturally able to play drums somehow. So yeah, if you can believe it, I was a complete metal-head growing up haha which tbh I think finds its way into my live set! You can never beat a good vibe at a metal show. My parents also have a craaaazy collection of vinyls from the 80s too which is just heaven to me now. All of those disco, funk, jazz, fusion grooves are all embedded into my subconscious.
“Also, slightly unrelated, but I just want to touch on this because people keep asking me. We live in a world now with the internet. Geography flat out doesn’t play a role in what music we are exposed to anymore. You know, every band round here sounds like The 1975 and before that it was Arctic Monkeys. I can’t understand why people have to fall into a certain sound just because it’s come out of a certain country – I’ll put on some stuff from Indonesia and be like “what a hook!” or (of course) I’m crazy inspired by Japanese music. It seems kind of ignorant because we don’t actually live in the 80s, we have the internet now and there’s sooooo much cool stuff going on all over the world!”
You go to Leeds College of Music and work with Red Seal Records: could you map out a bit further the scene that you see yourself as being involved with in Leeds, and shout out any other acts or collectives you think are nailing it at the moment?
“I see myself as in my own lane. I do all of the music, mixing, writing, business, promotion, bookings myself. No one I see is doing what I’m doing which, at the moment at least, is a gift and a curse. Labels don’t know what to do with me or don’t understand me, collectives think I’m too weird cos they’re pushing a certain sound, LCoM are suuuuuper supportive but of course there’s loads of people killing it in LCoM rn. To take a look through my eyes, it’s me with my pink glasses on in my bedroom thinking “how do I get gigs now? How do I turn everything up? How do I do this…that…” I’m confident that in 10 years time everyone is going to be doing what I’m doing now. People I think are nailing it are people that just make irresistible music not music that fits into a scene.”
What can we expect from your performance at Sunday Joint, in three words?
“Crazy Pink Funk”
[Photo credit: Caitlin Hall]