What are the three most important things we should know about you?
1. I make music. I’m a singer, pianist, guitarist, producer and writer.
2. I love sports, mainly basketball and look forward to beating most ‘celebrities’ in one-on-one basketball games in a few years time.
3. I take risks but I also like having some things to rely on that never change. Weird thing to say I know but what I mean is, I like a lot of different things and I also just like doing different shit and going to different places I can call home, like bases such as Mum’s house, Dad’s house, one solid studio but I also like to move around, live in different places and actually live and experience real life.
Your father is a musician. When did you decide to follow in his footsteps and how did your own unique sound come about?
I don’t think I decided to really, it more just happened. I had been around his group ’57 Dynasty’ since I was born. I’m on one of the album covers as a 2-year-old and also singing on one of the tracks when I could barely speak. Being around my dad exposed me to a lot genres, particularly old school hip hop, soul and jazz. So I think from an early age my brain just took in different sounds, the likes of Wu-Tang, Marvin Gaye, James brown to John Coltraneand Miles Davis. I remember singing along in my dad’s car on the way to my grandmother’s. What really resonated with me around age 8-11 was the Jimi Hendrix my dad used to play which basically made me want to pick up a guitar. This is now a big part of my music.This fascination with the guitar lead me to Nirvana, Guns and Roses, Slipknot, Linkin park, Avenged Sevenfold and even Bombay Bicycle Club (which people can’t believe). Then as a teenager, me and my friends listen and party to Joey Badass, Kendrick Lamar, Flatbush Zombies, The Underachievers, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Big Sean etc. I didn’t really pay attention to any singers (apart from rock / heavy metal bands) until I was like 16 when I found the whole OVO sound. People like Drake, The Weeknd, Bryson Tiller, Partynextdoor and also people like Frank Ocean, Post Malone, Jorja Smith, Spooky Black / Corbin. I guess all of the above, has lead me to the unique sound you’re talking about. Thank you for calling it unique, thats a high compliment in my world!
You write and produce all your own music. Are you ever been tempted to go mainstream?
The goal is to make remarkable, timeless, inimitable art that connects with people. That’s it. Yes, I produce and write all of my own music but I also work with friends on other projects too. My latest release ’98’ was produced with a good friend Eddy Atlantis who is a very special musician. It’s amazing (and for me, rare) to find people who have an artistic connection with. Where you can bridge ideas and create something you’re both excited about.
How much of your lyrics come from your actual experiences?
Most of them, most of the time. I’m a story teller and I believe the best stories are shamefully honest and simple. That’s when you can really connect with a piece of work.
Tell us about your first two EP’s and when can we expect an album?
I actually have 3 EP’s out. The first is an acoustic tape with 4 songs on it. It was released under the name “Santino” which is out on streaming but I’ve taken it off Soundcloud. I probably will take it off streaming soon too – a 15-year-old Santino singing love songs haha.
The Second EP is a collection of tracks that are the first songs that I put out that were fully produced with beats of mine. It includes tracks like ‘HOMETIME’ which is the first song that did really well for me, and another called ‘GET REAL’. This EP was me basically stepping into the world, so they represent everything I was going through at the time. Track 3 called ‘UP’ was actually written on the dance floor of a club in Amsterdam to the beat of a techno song and I created the beat and finished the song once I was back in the UK. The track tells the story of what went on that night haha.
‘CLOUD 304’ is my most recent project to date and is the best introduction to who I am as a person and artist at the moment. ‘4AM’ was the leading track from this project and my most streamed to date. It really sums up the sound I stand for, a fusion of hip-hop / trap production with electric guitar riffs and a solo at the end, as well as dark synths and soulful post- RnB vocals. This EP was also my deepest so far creatively. I really became “Santino Le Saint” through the process of creating this EP. I’ve made so much music since then and look forward to putting it into the world. I have so much more to express.
What music are you listening to currently?
Corbin, Sonder, The Underachievers, Nirvana, Slipknot, Playboi Carti, XXXTENTACION, Post Malone, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Willow Smith, Giggs, Travis Scott, Lil Peep.
What’s the idea behind CLOUD X and how did it come about?
CLOUD X is basically a collective of creative people. Musicians, directors, photographers, producers but mainly friends. We’re tight and also just make cool shit together. My guy David Dabieh came up with the name with some guys he worked with before I met him but as we started working together it just became more of a “thing”. We think things, then we make things. We move as a unit, we host crazy parties, we have writing camps (last week we turned my boy’s crib into 4 studios!). Just everything really. We live in a DIY generation, and we embrace that fully. It’s mad because as soon as I met David and his guys and he met my friends it just clicked. Now we can’t get rid of each other lol. It’s a FAMILY.
You were born in Brixton, how much has London changed over the past 15 years?
London is constantly evolving. Brixton has gone from an area that no-one would visit to ‘the cool place’ to go to like Shoreditch or something. It’s weird but it is what it is. It’s a touchy subject for people who have lived there for a long time and I don’t want to go into too many theories, gentrification and such but we should definitely be aware of the change, and question its consequences for communities. I’ve lived in many places in South London and its not an isolated issue.
If you could live anywhere, where would you be living?
I can never decide. On the one hand, the fast pace city life really suits me and I’d love to have a penthouse flat looking over the river in London somewhere. I also think places like Toronto, New York or LA would be sick. The other part of me, that seriously craves isolation. A small sleepy town for a bit could be cool, to really get to know the local people, get a job in a little cafe or something like that. I’m sure I’d make amazing music if I did that haha. I think I need to travel more!
Instagram – positive or negative?
The platform itself is definitely very useful. You can create things, sell things, advertise your brand meet new people. That said, just like any other social media, it has its downsides. Cyber bullying, stunting, vanity. The overarching truth, is that it is NOT REAL. False perceptions and masks can have very damaging effects socially and mentally, so please people.
When did you last cry and why?
I haven’t cried in a very long time. I almost wish I did or at least I want to know that I still am able to. A film last year had me thinking for a long time after but I haven’t actually shed a tear for some time now.
What do you daydream about?
Mainly the future: what life will be like when I’m older, performing in front of sold out arenas and normal artist stuff like that haha. I also think a lot about alternative realities: what would have happened if…
What was the most memorable kiss of your life so far? (hope we don’t get you into trouble).
Hahahahaha!! I’m definitely not naming any names right now but I’m also just not sure. On top of a mountain would be legendary though, that needs to happen…
Is there someone you like to apologies to and why?
Yeah a kid I punched in secondary school because I only found out recently that what I thought he did to piss me off wasn’t him and therefore wasn’t his fault. Sorry my g.
You are signed to Select Models. What do you enjoy the most about modelling?
Firstly, shout out Select! They are one incredible family. I’m signed to their special talent division, so I’m very much on the books as a musician and the jobs I take are reflective of that. The modelling really allows me to explore and develop my love for fashion. It’s something I’ll explore further when I have a greater platform. I’ve also met some great artists from it, such as the King of Glamour himself, designer Julien Macdonald. After walking for him in LFW, we’ve now collaborated on some visual and musical content for his social media and I’m sure we’ll collaborate even further in future. Watch this space!
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I want to take over the world.
Interview by Dena Tahmasebi
Photography and styling by Andrea Vecchiato
Clothes: Camouflage Jacket by Elka – Green Jacket by Elka – Leather Jacket by Giorgio Armani, Black t-shirt by All Saints, Jeans by All Saint – Baseball Jacket with skulls by Walter’s Wall of Wonders