Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Lauren Santiago is the Pinay you don't want to challenge at karaoke night. I found out about Miss Santiago through DJ Marlino's Heavy Rotation radio show and have been hooked ever since! Lauren gives a soulful quality to her music that many R&B acts today lack. Combined with the fresh tracks by Freddie Joachim and Choice37, her music is appealing to anyone who digs the earthy, gritty, but "lay back" feel of soul music.
Her EP "Sundays" gives you a that feel-good sunny Sunday afternoon vibe- you might cook a breakfast (of eggs and garlic rice?) and clean up your place on a Sunday afternoon with Lauren jammin on your box. Each track is unique- experimental in texture, key, timing, and even pitch.
Sista got pipes. And the fact that she rhymes too? Golden. So don't sleep on her music. Make sure you cop the EP "Sundays" on her myspace or search for her on iTunes. And definitely keep a look out for her album dropping in Spring 2009.
You can peep an interview by Rafu Magazine for more scoop on Lauren. I had the fortune of interviewing her all the way from NYC! Enjoy!
Who is Lauren Santiago?
I'm reppin' So Cal. I'm (like totally) a Valley girl. I never noticed how "Valley" I was until I moved to NY about a year ago. East coasters call me on my lingo all the time, but I love it 'cause it's a nice reminder about where I'm from. I'm living in Bed Stuy (do or die), NY at the moment and am diggin' this Brooklyn energy. I classify my music as Soul, but I'm branching out into variations of the genre. Electro, experimental, hip-hop, but it's Soul at heart.
How did you get involved with music?
I sang in choir in the third grade and people told me I was good, so I kept going. I was actually super into rock back in the day. I'm talking like Guns n Roses and Metalllica. Then I slowly transitioned into R&B and was really into TLC, En Vogue, Xscape (yeah I said it). I would sing their stuff all the time! When I got introduced to Dre and Snoop via my bro, I was in love. Then, lord, Lauryn Hill hit the scene and I REALLY wanted to be her. I wrote rhymes, got pretty good at it and rhymed at parties. It was fun. But I wanted to sing. I revisited singing in college, hooked up with an all-girl a cappella group at USC and from then just kept going.
Who inspires you stylistically?
Right now I'm inspired by Yukimi Nagano, Santogold, Portishead. They are so unique in style and they embody the perfect marriage of vocals/lyrics/track. Sick. Of course, there's Alicia Keys. I love the grittiness in her voice. Leela James is awesome too. That smokey, old soul vibe is fresh. Erykah and her bugged out "I don't give a f*ck" ways. There are so many to name.
What are some of the greatest challenges as you create music?
Finding time to sit down and go at it. I have a day job that is taking over my life. No joke. So what happens is, I go and work a looong ass day, write on the train, come home and work on arrangements and recording. I've been sleeping a lot less lately.
What are some of the greatest rewards?
Some of the greatest rewards are hearing the product and having people say, "Yeah, I'm feelin that. That sh*t is nice." Haha in so many words. Also, when people can relate to the subject. For example, I had a 15 year old kid from Arizona hit me up saying he just broke up with his girl and he posted "It's So Easy" lyrics on his blog cuz he was going through that same situation. That rocks.
One of my favorite songs is "Hear It From You." The song, like many other songs in your EP, have a complex texture, timbre, and unconventional sound timings (like the change of beat and timing in Jacewon's rap "outtro" in the song, or the echoey/haunting yet soulful vocals in "Hope"). Describe the creative process in making "Hear It From You."
That song is produced by Freddie Joachim, and the emcee at the end is Jacewon. Choice37 was the one who offered up his studio to have me lay it down. Freddie hit me up about getting on his album and I was feeling that track, so I laced it. Jacewon was also feeling that track so we collab'd. (Freddie and Choice37 in picture to right)
What inspired the lyrics was at the time I was diggin this cat from NYC while I was still in LA. He had no idea 'cause it was never discussed, and I didn't wanna say anything cuz I assumed it was on that "I'm here, you're there, let's connect when you're in town" type-thing (boo for that. FYI fellas, I can NOT be that casual). So anyway, I was like "Damn! Just tell me you're into me and let's get this poppin' - screw the distance!"
What is your favorite "era" of hip hop?
The 90s! From Dre, Snoop, Quik to Souls of Mischief, Hiero, and Common. I wanted to be like all those guys! Hip hop was real. This crap on the radio nowadays is so beyond me it's like I can't believe the public eats up this crap.
Do you sense a difference in the Filipino American community (hip hop or otherwise) on the West Coast and that on the East Coast?
I don't really see a Fil Am community out here in NYC. Maybe that's the difference! I've been to maybe one party, and it was the same as the West Coast. I actually felt like I was on the West. But, I don't really see a community out here. It could be because I'm outta the loop, who knows. NY is mixed like no other place I've ever been, and the sense of community IN GENERAL is through the roof! I love that. No one judges you. They just let you be who you are, act a fool, dress like a clown, and let you on your merry way. The west coast will ALWAYS be home though.
What should listeners be on the look out for? What new projects are in store?
I'm working on my full-length album. It's taking a while but it's coming! Spring 2009 is the goal. In the meantime I'll be pushing out some free joints, teasers/sampler types mainly for the DJs to throw in the mix. Working on more uptempos too. I love the laid back, relaxing type tracks but I'm trying to break out of that in a major way! Freddie and Choice37 are of course on the bill. I'm throwing in a couple of other producers as well. I'm working with this sick cat from the UK (nex*is) and more TBA...
Is there anything else you would like readers to know before you go?
Yes. I'm on iTunes. Cop that!
Thanks for the interview Lauren Santiago! Stay warm in freezin cold NYC! We're waiting eagerly for that album!