Alternate Universe

Santigold is back on the charts with an album straight from her subconscious

Santi White’s best ideas hit her in the morning. The 35-year-old artist, better known as Santigold, says they come to her right when she wakes up. The hard part follows: turning inspiration into art. The effort has paid off, earning White praise as a genre-bending indie pop star whose albums contain as many references to reggae as new wave. After working as an A&R rep for Epic Records and writing songs for Christina Aguilera and Lily Allen, White released her first album, Santogold, in 2008. It garnered comparisons to the eclectic world sound of fellow female singer M.I.A. (with whom White has toured). Four years, a world tour and countless collaborations (with Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Mark Ronson) later, White produced Master of My Make-Believe. The album, which was released in May, crosses the spectrum from rock and hip-hop to dance music. White is currently on a world-tour supporting her new album, and she called Vegas Seven from a Portugal tour stop to chat about her music. That tour brings White to the Cosmopolitan on Aug. 11.

You toured for two years following the release of your first album, and now you’re back at it. Is it grueling?

Yes, it is really tough. Two weeks before the album is released, it gets really hectic. Even days off are really travel days. When you’re on tour it is constantly about putting out. So the major difference about being home is I try to not put myself in situations like that. The difference is really about being on or off.

Your fashion sense and stage set are really stylized. Is that important?

It’s really important to me to make every aspect of what I’m doing creative. Every aspect is an extension of the art. I love fashion, especially bold fashion. It’s all an opportunity to create art, and there are so many avenues. My new album is called Master of My Make-Believe, so it’s pretty easy to dress up onstage because you can do a little more than walking around normally.

What do you like about performing in Las Vegas?

I like Vegas. I played here this year at a private party. At first I didn’t enjoy it, but now I like it. It’s like an alternative reality. I don’t go there like I live there. It’s usually in some mega hotel, where they are pumping oxygen in the room.

What music are you excited about right now?

I have always loved old music. It’s hard to hear a whole album that’s good, but [the band] Beach House is a favorite. Not the one that just came out, the one before [2010’s Teen Dream]. I listen to it nonstop. But as far as songs go, that song “I Don’t Like” [by Chief Keef]. It’s kind of my theme song because I’m a complete hater. My whole band and dancers go around saying it.

What was the last thing you hated on?

I can’t tell you, I’ll sound mean.

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