The singer and producer Santigold is the reigning master of what she calls the “twisted pop song,” and 99¢, her third album, is twisted in the best possible way. Many of its lyrics grapple with how commercialized our identities have become, but that does not mean Santigold sounds anything like your hotep uncle who wants you to quit social media and tape over your phone’s front camera. Not at all. On her track “Can’t Get Enough of Myself,” the singer is critical of self-obsessed selfie and celebrity culture at the very same time as she professes massive amounts of self-love. Her lyrics are complex and cackling-levels of witty, and her visuals are actual bliss (see: the video for her latest single “Chasing Shadows”). Listening to 99¢ is hearing an inimitable brain in brilliant motion.
As she prepared for her forthcoming We Buy Gold tour, Santi White talked us through her Life Syllabus—the practices, art, and places that keep her connected to her own thoughts, and to the world around her.
PART I: CHI GONG
I’m talking to you about [Chi Gong] from my limited perspective. I’ve been studying it for three years. It’s the best thing for me right now. My acupuncturist recommended it because I needed something to help me stay grounded in my body and to cultivate calming energy. I had been meditating for years, but this is more like full-body meditation. Chi Gong is about cultivating life energy, which is chi. It’s based on the idea of keeping the chi flowing through your body, which optimizes your health and your spirit. We learn how to move that energy around, and it creates that energy, so that when you’re low on energy you can create this life energy, and then you can move it around and get rid of blocks and keep your mind clear. It’s really meditative while you’re doing it. You feel like you’re walking on a cloud when you walk out of there. The whole thing is that when you’re doing it, you’re not even meant to feel your body, and your brain is supposed to be absolutely clear. I was so busy because I put a record out, and I just had a baby not too long ago, so…[Laughs] I quit exercising! I quit yoga! I quit meditating. Chi Gong is a little bit of all that, so that’s the most important thing that I’m doing right now.