Highsnobiety

Obsessively crafting laptop beats out of their respective flat-shared, bedroom-based studios, producers Santii are the ultimate Gen Z duo. Playing out a champagne lifestyle on a chicken nugget budget, longtime collaborators and pals Miki and Alex travel the world, writing music for big artists and playing shows to huge crowds. Investing every hard earned euro into their passion project Santii, the reclusive Italian creatives struggled to break a profit from their craft.

Recruiting Drake producer Supah Mario to guest vocal on their debut single “Neversorry”, Irish rapper Rejjie Snow, and mixtape badman Cakes Da Killa, Santii’s debut album S01 features a stellar lineup of international artists. Every guest on the album was either a friend or a friend of a friend. Hitting up their contacts via social media, then emailing a folder of instrumental edits, the musical partnership established between each featured artist and the production duo was the magic component to the LP's greatness.

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Reminiscent of Sega's Sonic vs. Tails soundtrack, interspersed with PC Music’s analog rawness and Wu-Tang Clan-esque anarchy, Santii's music can only be described as utterly indescribable. The wild minds responsible for imagining such tripped-out atmospheres wrote with a calm mind, from an isolated environment. Hedonism or dawn-chasing nights out do not live here.

S01 is based upon a deep, compulsive desire to realize sonic perfection. Santii's music is not born of past experience, their vision conceptualizes the future through their sounds, and the duo aspires to give life to only original and fluid rhythms and moods. Neither trend-led nor crowd-pleasing, their minute attention to detail spins out mesmeric tunnels of impossibly soothing and satisfying melodies, accompanied by amplified, affecting vocals. If 2001: A Space Odyssey were to create a(nother) sequel, Santii would be the only soundtrack. Highsnobiety chatted to the musicians about their insatiable appetite for artistic self-discovery.

You’ve just finished your debut album. Are you continuing to write despite having only just achieved that milestone?

Yes! More and more people are becoming interested in what we are doing and they want to hear more of the music. They want to hear more new material. So before we tour the new album, we have some free time and we decided it was time to start writing something new.

How are you trying to evolve this new, original sound after having only recently created it?

We are not trying to think too hard about the creative process, we are simply trying to give our new material more of a pop aesthetic. We are focusing on lyrics. Last time, things started with the sound. The first mixtape was also created the opposite way around to how we are creating now; we used to always start with the music and then add the voice. At the moment the words are what are most important to us.

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How long have you been making music together?

Before we established Santii we were working together, writing music for other artists. So I had already known Mikki for a long time. Then we decided we wanted to become a duo. We began writing music for the project almost three years ago.



Who were you writing for?

It was mainly for Italian artists because our publisher is Italian. We prefer to write English lyrics so we focused on pop-oriented instrumentals.

Is it frustrating not being able to write in your first language, constantly having to translate what you are thinking?

We grew up listening to foreign music, especially music from the USA and the UK, so we always write and sing with English sounds and words. It would be a lot harder for us to write in Italian if I am honest. It's better for us to write in English.

How did you first come to start writing lyrics? Has music always been a vocation for both of you?

We only began writing when we were sure we had something to say. We needed to be sure our music and our influence would be worth something. We have been making music since we were super young and I had worked on various acts and projects before establishing Santii. Music has always been my passion. It’s all I think about.

Your sound is so complex, textured and clean. Is this the result of an inordinate amount of time spent working in the studio to hone that finish?

We are obsessive.

You can hear that in the sound, the attention to detail is so polished.

Some of my friends say we are too obsessed with the technical side of what we do. This is the first time we have taken responsibility for every aspect of the creative process from the writing, mixing, production - everything is done by us. Previously, I was writing music but I didn’t take care of mixing and production. There was always a third person from a studio like a producer who would finish the sound. I would find that frustrating because even if the final result was good, it was never what I wanted it to be. I decided it was time to learn the engineering part. I taught myself about production and mixing via YouTube. We recorded the whole of S01 in our studio so there is no souped-up production; everything was done on a laptop and usually, when you work from a laptop, it takes more time than if you had more professional equipment. We are not rich yet; we have super basic equipment so it takes time to make everything sound good.

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I feel like there is a real mystery to your sound and that you don't want the music to personally represent your characters but to depict a journey.

Absolutely, it's a way for us to play out what we would dream of doing. Sometimes the lyrics depict our desires but not our realities. The music is a mask. We encourage our music to play around with ideas, but don't always take our sentiments too literally. We aren’t always 100% ourselves in the music, we like to role-play identities. Although this isn’t a contrived concept, it's just a more fluid theme that can occur.

Considering your obsessive personalities, how hard was it to (share) creative ownership of each track with your collaborators?

Because we were super obsessed, we thought it would be good to challenge ourselves and go against our instincts. Sometimes I like to take myself out of my comfort zone and apply an energy that scares me. Adopting that external impact was initially harder, but as we came to adjust to this and we started to see how the tracks had an identity and generally there were different styles coming out of the process. So it wasn’t about just featuring a vocalist, there was an artistic connection.



I feel like you are very ambitious people.

Maybe in the future we will try to have a bit more fun with the writing, but so far I'm glad people can see that we are trying to push forward and create something outside of the boundaries of standard generalization. This was all our intention, so we feel good that we have achieved this.

Of all the artists you've worked with, who had the biggest impact on you?

Uli K. He is a really weird guy! When you see him live on his socials he is super aggressive and kind of dark and emo. Then when you talk to him or meet him he is super kind and approachable. When I first contacted him I thought I would get a weird response, but instead, he was so kind. He is a perfect example of a person not being who they are on record in real life. Thomas Mraz is another one of my favorites. He writes to me every day saying, “When is the album going to be out? l cant wait!!”

How changed do you feel as musicians being signed to a label?

We are welcoming of the expertise. We are super into the music and it's so helpful to have someone who can take care of business, and also if you have a structure you have more budget to do more work. We still feel like we have our freedom. We just want to push the name forward and improve the aesthetic of the band.

Do you work with a stylist?

We are just ourselves. We like what we like. Alex is a graphic designer by trade, so we like to spend time working on the visual side of things with the band. That's why we directed the first two videos. Sometimes we just want to stop making music, take a break, and open up another creative software program. It’s the same process but the outcome is different; everything comes from us.

Catch Santii play on July 19 at the Waiting Room, head here for tickets.

For more of our interviews, check out our exclusive Q&A and editorial with rising rapper Smino in Tokyo right here.

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