August 23 2014

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Beauty And The Beat: Santigold Is Ready To “Leave All The Wackiness To Everyone Else”—Just As Long As She Can Have Her Green Eyeliner


A lot can happen in four years—just ask Santi White, a.k.a. Santigold, who released her debut album in 2008. Since then, there’s been blog buzz, Converse ads, copycats, and waiting—a lot of it, mostly by her patient fan base holding its breath for something new from the New York-based genre-crosser. But finally, Santigold’s sophomore album Master of My Make-Believe is here, and it more than meets our incredibly high expectations. White, meanwhile, still looks every bit the star, whether she’s running around the jungle in Rodarte x Opening Ceremony heels (see: the music video for “Disparate Youth”) or doing some gender-bending on her Kehinde Wiley-designed album cover (yes, that’s her as both an Alexander Wang-clad Bond girl, and a suited man). In the midst of a U.S. tour, White spoke with about getting through a five-day detox, getting over her old “look,” and getting creative with her colorist.

Most people’s personal style evolves over the course of four years. Has that been the case for you?
When my first record came out in 2008, it was a really exciting time in fashion because it seemed there was an explosion of fun, colorful, playful styles that were much bolder than anything we’d seen in a couple decades. It was so exciting for someone like me because it was almost like wearing toys. Over the past few years, however, that trend has spread to the point where it seems like everyone just wants to be more “wacky” than the next person, so I’ll leave all the wackiness to everyone else. I still like fun styles with interesting colors and textures; I always will, because that’s what I’m drawn to, the more artful fashion pieces—especially for stage and photo shoots. But now I’m more into creating costumes for my stage shows that feel more theatrical, but in a DIY way. Offstage, comfort always comes first. Maybe that’s something that’s changed a bit; when you first come out as an artist you really want to establish what your “look” is so that everyone knows who you are and what you’re about. Nowadays, the less attention I get when I don’t want it, the better.

That Alexander Wang gold, cutout one-piece you wear on the cover of Master of My Make-Believe is pretty attention-grabbing.
I love that suit! I just had an image in mind for the cover and I knew I needed a special gold suit for the lady-guards that was going to be amazing, so I reached out to Alex—thinking he’d never do it—and I asked him to design something for it. I was overjoyed when he said yes! I remember doing a really bad job trying to describe what I had in mind, and he was like, “So you want something slutty?” I was like, “No! Kind of badass Bond girl,” and he was like, “OK. I got it.” And then he just went into his genius mode and nailed it!

What sort of prep work did you do beforehand to ready yourself for what basically amounted to a bikini shoot?
I had been going to a trainer in New York—Rob Morea—pretty regularly since my Kilimanjaro climb the year before, so it wasn’t too intense a preparation. I was in Los Angeles about two weeks before the shoot and my trainer out there, Jason Walsh, suggested that since I had the shoot in two weeks I should do a five-day detox. So I tried this cleanse called Paleta, where they delivered vitamin drink powders and organic detoxifying meals for five days. I did it while I was finishing mixing the record, so it was pretty easy because sometimes when I’m really focused on something I don’t like to have to think about what I’m going to eat anyway.

How much of a make-believe world do you create for your live shows?
Dressing up onstage has become a big part of the Santigold show. And I enjoy it. I think it really helps give the songs and the show a life of their own, especially with all the props and choreography. I have a lot of fun coming up with costume ideas for myself, my dancers, and the band. It’s like an art project every time, and me and my stylist April Roomet run around like crazy trying to pull it all together. Sometimes it’s quite a crafts project. I wear minimal makeup on stage because we get really sweaty up there, but whatever makeup I wear, I make sure it ties in somehow. Like right now, it’s all about this turquoise green MAC liquid eyeliner. It’s a party in a little bottle!

At Coachella you also had emerald nails—are you having a green moment?
My nail color at Coachella was a last-minute fluke that I was so excited about—it matched my eyeliner so perfectly! It’s what I would call 3-D color, because it almost jumps off the surface. It was a green polish (Essie Pretty Edgy) on the bottom, and blue glitter (Sally Hansen Gem Crush 04 Bling-tastic) on top. I find nail polish so exciting sometimes—seriously, it’s like candy!

And then you’ve also been rocking horizontal gray streaks in your hair. What’s the inspiration there?
I wanted to do something with my hair that was interesting and fun to look at, but also super low maintenance. I don’t like having to do much to my hair on any given day, so color seemed like a good option rather than a haircut that would need to be kept up, and that I’d get bored of quickly. I decided to just dye it black and put a thick, light gray stripe around the bottom, leaving about three inches of black below. I had seen people with color on the ends, but never where it was a stripe and the color didn’t go to the ends, and also I thought gray was a cool non-color. It goes with everything, and I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about everyone having it. Aura Friedman does my color, she’s always down to try something fun and creative.

With tour dates through June, what are you packing to help you get through endless weeks on the road?
The most important beauty product while traveling is face moisturizer. I use an amazing face moisturizer that I get in Paris called Embryolisse—you can get it at any drugstore there, but it’s amazing. I learned about it from my makeup artists because I noticed all of them always used this moisturizer and it feels great on your skin. I also use Crème de la Mer for heavy-duty moisturizing. A nice trick is to first spray on Evian Mineral Water Spray before applying face moisturizer, especially on the plane.

Your new album is obviously a perfect warm-weather soundtrack, but what albums are you looking forward to jamming to this summer?
I’m excited about the new Beach House record—I loved their last record so much. But my new summer theme song is “I Don’t Like” by Chief Keef. I love it! I also like the song “In the Grace of Your Love” by the Rapture.

Photo: Sean Thomas

Beauty And The Beat