American Dreaming

04.14.2011

MUSIC

Santigold has never been one to mince words. The Brooklyn-bred musician turned heads with her 2008 eponymous album and collaborations with artists such as The Beastie Boys, Major Lazer and others. Here, along with the premiere of her new track “GO (feat. Karen O),” Santi decodes the meaning of the song (which was produced by Q-Tip, Switch and Santi herself, along with Nick Zinner on guitar), working with Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the concept of the new American Dream.

Life + Times: What does “GO” represent for you?
Santigold
: In this song, “GO” has a dual meaning. On one hand it’s a challenge, beckoning any would-be usurpers to come show and prove. On the other, it’s a call to myself to rise to the occasion. “Go” is a “fun” song. It’s playful, but like many of my songs, lyrically it was an opportunity for me to vent. It’s about the difficulties of holding onto what’s yours, everything from your ideas and energy, to your confidence. As artists, we give so much and make ourselves vulnerable. Sometimes it’s hard to stay grounded. You get so caught up in all that you have to do to constantly deliver, then suddenly you realize you’re so far from where you started that you almost don’t remember the way back. And that’s a dangerous thing, in so many ways. So in this song, I talk about guarding what’s mine. Also, this song comments on the era we live in and the NEW American dream. The dream used to be that if you worked hard, and you were good at what you did, you could pave your own way in America and the sky was the limit. It was based on the idea that there was “opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” However, things have changed. The NEW American Dream is to become rich and famous by happenstance – or sex tapes – and to get there with as little work or talent as possible. And as a result, we are suffering – though many of us don’t know it – as quality becomes a notion of the past. We’re ruining art, our planet, and our health, all due to our newfound obsession with instant gratification, with the short term quick-fix. So, my song’s about all that in a way. I guess I know I work so hard at trying to cultivate my talent. And I get frustrated watching all these people trying to jump on and fake it. Sadly, it works. But not in my song!

L+T: How did your collaboration with Karen O (of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs) come about?
SG
: Well, I went to my friend Nick Zinner’s photography show, which was great, one night and I ran into Karen, and we were talking. I was probably bitching about working on my record, which makes up most of my tired conversation these days, and she kind of volunteered to help in any way. A while later, I was working with Q-Tip, trying to come up with some ideas, and he played what ended up being the foundation beat of the track, and I had, like, an “audio-vision,” if that’s what you call it, of the song. In an instant in my mind, I heard what the finished song would sound like and it had Karen on it. So I worked on it a bit and sent it to Karen. I felt all insecure and was like, “You know, if you’re feeling it, if you could come up with something, but if not, it’s cool.” And then I didn’t hear back for a while. So, I sheepishly reached out again, and was like, “Hey, no pressure, if you weren’t feeling it, it’s cool.” And Karen was like, “OMG! I sent it back to you a week ago. I thought you hated what I did so much you didn’t ever want to speak to me again.” I told her I never got it, and we agreed that being an artist was insane and we laughed at our psycho- insecurity, and were both psyched on what she called our “rad track.”

L+T: Why music?
SG
: No choice really. It chose me. I even get the impulse to hum when I chew my food.

L+T: You created a boro-wide anthem with “Brooklyn Go Hard.” How did that feel?
SG
: It was pretty awesome! And really out of the blue. I’m grateful for Jay’s and Kanye’s keen ears for honing in on that line. I guess people gravitate towards the truth! I remember when Jay called me and asked me to do the song with him, I was on tour in Europe I think. He said he would send me the track to write to, but that if I played it for anyone he would hold me over the edge of a roof by my ankles. I’ve been running that line ever since whenever I have to send early versions of music to people. It doesn’t quite have the same gravity for some reason when I say it though. I don’t think anyone believes me.

L+T: What’s the first thing you remember about making music?
SG
: The first song I remember writing was when I was nine-years-old. I had just finished watching the movie Breakin’ and I was oh so inspired. I went and got a pencil and paper, and sat on the floor in front of the TV and wrote the lyrics to my first song. It was called “City Streets.”

L+T: What’s next?
SG
: Getting my album out once and for all! So much red tape! Shit, I make music to be heard!

  • http://twitter.com/JAYFANon2thenxt Sarah

    Yes Santi!, I love your music, I can’t wait to hear the new album. Jay help cut that red tape lol

  • http://twitter.com/drewkolar Drew Kolar

    Hot track! Hopefully the red tape won’t take much longer to get through. Definitely looking forward to some new stuff. :)

  • http://twitter.com/softjunebreeze Stephanie V.

    Santigold AND Karen O.? Can that much fierceness be contained? Not sure, but I’ll take it!

  • http://profiles.google.com/imnorafal Rafał Naus

    GREAAAAT!

    POLAND is waiting for U. ourSANTI ;]

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678195460 Sarah C Cardenas

    Love it!

  • http://twitter.com/IcarusAndWings Rafał

    GREAAAT

    Poland is waiting 4U, ourSANTI ;]

  • Anonymous

    About time we get some new Santigold. Song is sick. Nice choice bringing Karen O in.

  • http://twitter.com/cosmicparadigm angelica

    santigold is basically the shit!! loves it

  • Anonymous

    this song is so dope!!

  • http://twitter.com/Shelvesofvinylz sheryl witlen

    LOVE THIS!

  • Anonymous

    L.O.V.E.!

  • http://www.facebook.com/freshseth Seth Stephens

    Right on the spot, sign my name with a dot!

  • Anonymous

    Love This Website

  • http://cromeyellow.com cromeyellow.com

    Santi is such an underlooked talent it’s actually a crime! This is the kind of art we need to shake things up!

  • Anonymous

    she is refreshingly original and beautiful ! her voice sounds a lil like m.i.a. but they are both dope chicks. pleeze keep me posted as to when she comes to perform in philly!

  • http://twitter.com/t_NYC thomas Jr

    <3 santigold

  • http://twitter.com/FeliciAkunwafor Felicia Akunwafor

    This is great!

  • http://twitter.com/Sharisus_Christ Your Lord and Savior

    it’s a little catchy; i could see it being in the top 40 on billboard 100. lol at jay saying that to her though.

  • http://twitter.com/bradenalexander Bray Alexander

    One of the most genuine artists to come out in a decade. Amazing stage presence, to boot.

  • http://twitter.com/bradenalexander Bray Alexander

    One of the most genuine artists to come out in a decade. Amazing stage presence, to boot.

  • Anonymous

    Great song, and thanks for your statement. As an artist, I can totally relate to the struggle of losing the meaning behind your work, which is really the most important thing about it.

  • Anonymous

    Great music! And thanks so much for sharing your statement. As an artist, I understand completely the struggle to staying true to the meaning of your work as it becomes more public and more popular.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5TCBVUNADXNGEUFLWQNXUHRI3M Dana

    how do I get this song!!!!?!

  • http://twitter.com/oidatura …!

    This is a sick track!!! Love Karen and Santogold!!

  • http://twitter.com/craigwash82 Craig Washington

    That was sick!! Can’t wait for the album!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CHO46F5FC5O633P2XPH7JXOSAA Rafeeq

    This is real dope. I love real artists

  • http://twitter.com/Bryan_Payton Bryan Payton

    Such a dope track. Can’t wait for the album. I love what Q-Tip brings with the production and the addition of Karen O. True art, homie.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_USW6EKBK6C5B5GEHW3UGOOH25M Justin Chaitoo

    THIS IS A GOOD THING AND SHE IS GOING BIG AND I LIKE GOOD MUSIC KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_USW6EKBK6C5B5GEHW3UGOOH25M Justin Chaitoo

    THIS IS A GOOD THING AND SHE IS GOING TO BE BIG THING AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK I LIKE GOOD MUSIC

  • Anonymous

    awesome sound keep up the good work

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=830825012 Mandi LeBlanc

    So excited for the new Santigold album. If this single is any indication of what is to come from the record, I am excited! This song was enhanced even more for me with the addition of Karen O. So AWESOME!

  • http://twitter.com/GabyJuarez Jennifer

    SIMPLY FIIIIIIIIIRE!!!! I cannot wait for the album!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/yeahthisisvr V R

    couple of lines on bklyn go hard definitely taught me a good lesson.
    no doubt, jay-z is my tutor.

  • http://twitter.com/halonrvse Se Magnifique

    WHERE DO I GET THIS SONG???? So hppy 2 hear new Santigold and as always, it f*kin amazing!!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/dino720 ARMOND BROWN

    UMMM I CANT TAKE THE WAITING HOW MUCH U WANT FOR THE ALBUM I MUST HAVE IT FOR THE SUMMER!!!

  • http://www.recipemantra.com Concerned Citizen

    >The Brooklyn-bred musician

    What the fuck am I reading?

  • MOTZI von Buckel

    this awesome intro

    who can tell me what Song they sampled it must be from the early 80´s

  • F.UN

    WOLFPACKJASON ON A.I.M.

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