Santigold is Back! Fierce New Single ‘High Priestess’ is ‘Taking No Drama’

Above image by Frank Ockenfels

Our beloved Philly songstress Santigold is many things – but surely “prolific” is not one of them. To be exact, her last full album 99¢ was released all the way back in February of 2016, before there was even a (bah!) President Trump. Since then, she’s only given us the 2018 I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions mixtape, and then popped up last year for an amazing collab with the since deceased U-Roy, an inspired cover of the Paragons’ ‘Man Next Door’.

Obviously we’ve needed her wisdom more than ever these last few terribly divisive and pandemic-plagued years. So when we were given the tipoff that a new album was indeed on the way, we could not possibly have been more excited. And the intriguingly titled Spirituals is promised to us for sometime later in 2022. But in the meantime, we’re out of our minds with joy for the release today of her fierce new single+video ‘High Priestess’, with its relentless beats, Kraftwerky synths and Santi’s cool, surefire delivery. And what she’s delivering, be assured, is definitely “taking no drama.”

“They talk ’bout bitches, they talk
That shit’s not ’bout me
Now bow down, don’t freak out
In the presence of a queen
They talk about big things, don’t make none
‘Cause deep down ain’t sleep
Watch [?]”

She recorded it in a cabin in the woods somewhere in remote Canada, doing Zoom sessions with Boys Noize and producer Psymun to bring the track to fruition. But since she was there and we weren’t, we’ll let her tell the story in her own words.

“I had started working on this beat and I didn’t have anything in mind for a topic – I just knew I wanted to do a sort of rap punk song, as dangerous as that sounds. My buddy Ray Brady and I started trying to add in all the elements that made sense, kicks, subs, new wave synths. Boys Noize ended up bringing something super cool that really built the song and made me get even more excited about it. It was coming along quickly, until it wasn’t. The punk rock energy, the angst, that I wanted to come across wasn’t quite there.

I tried adding guitar and a live drum kit, and ended up tagging in Psymun (Simon Christensen), who brought in Ryan Olson, and they brought the final missing element. The energy I was looking for couldn’t be the old version of punk rock, it had to be the future sound of punk rock. They brought the angst, the push and pull that was missing, but it was very fresh sounding and totally unexpected. I want to make music that sounds like the past and the future all in one; music that makes you feel safe enough to jump in, but then takes us on a journey to where we needed to go but have never even heard of. I want my music to be the bridge.

I love working in this way, for me music is about community, it’s a way to connect, both in the making of it and in the listening to it. I made this song over the past two years during the pandemic, and was desperate for this type of connection. It literally saved my spirit.

I called it ‘High Priestess’ because this song was about my greatness. I needed to be a witness to myself at that point, calling out my own power, my own fortitude, my own wisdom, because I felt like I had become disconnected from it, having been stripped out of the rhythm of life that I had cultivated for myself, and thrust into this smaller, one dimensional version of myself, grounded and isolated for too long. The lyrics are fun though, rap lyrics in general, boastful, cocky, but that’s what I was talking about underneath it all.”

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