The Tiny Desk often forces radical changes to an artist’s sound and style, but Santigold faced more than most. There was the live band assembled for the occasion, which included George Lewis Jr. (aka Twin Shadow) on bass and drummer Chuck Treece, who’s worked with everyone from Bad Brains to Billy Joel. There was the lack of a microphone — and, by extension, vocal amplification — not to mention the fact that, as Santigold herself noted, “I don’t know what I’m doing up here with no dancers.”
Fortunately, Santi White has been revising and reinventing her sound for two decades now. If anything, performing her genre-straddling R&B and electro-pop with a live band represented a return to roots, given that she’d spent the early 2000s singing in the punk band Stiffed — with Treece on drums, in fact. Everything about this set feels like the culmination of hard work, from the custom arrangements to the singer’s hair/hat combo, an architectural marvel that warrants closer inspection. Given that Santigold had canceled her North American tour weeks earlier — she flew into D.C. for this occasion — it’s a wonder her Tiny Desk debut even happened. Thank goodness it did.
“L.E.S. Artistes” “I’m A Lady” “Shake” “Fall First” “Ain’t Got Enough”
Santigold (Santi White): vocals Ray Brady: guitar, synth Chuck Treece: drums George Lewis Jr. (Twin Shadow): bass Melanie Nyema: background vocals Stephany Mora: background vocals
TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Abby O’Neill Director/Editor: Maia Stern Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin Creative Director: Bob Boilen Series Producer: Bobby Carter Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Michael Zamora, Sofia Seidel Audio Assistant: Natasha Branch Production Assistant: Jill Britton Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Kara Frame, Ashley Pointer VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann