Why Santino Le Saint Is An Icon In The Making
12 Jan 2023
Heavy on fine guitar riffs that exemplify the concept of Rock music, Santino Le Saint didn’t fall short of reminding us exactly why he’s a rockstar – an icon if anything – with the release of a project definitive of individuality, along with everything synonymous to it. No More Icons joins the line-up of works in his discography that are consistent with the distinct sound qualities present throughout. RnB, soul, electronic; a fusion of genres an average listener wouldn’t imagine an artist fusing. Despite consistency being a big part of the discussion, it’s impossible to ignore how artistic evolution has been ingrained into this body of work, given how seamlessly composed tracks like Burning and Borrowed Time have graced the tracklist.
Last summer Santino Le Saint charged the stage at the annual Cloud X festival, only to succeed by joining music flame, 070 Shake on her European Leg of the You Can’t Kill Me tour. These moments wouldn’t have been complete without the release of No More Icons. It was time to hear what Santino had to say about touring, new music inspiration for this latest drop and even sport with the rise of his basketball team better known as, the Cloud X All-Stars.
How was the tour experience?
Crazy. To put it briefly, it was probably one of the best times of my life. Not only am I lucky enough to be doing what my passion is for my job, but I did it with my best friends. My tour manager is my best friend who I’ve known since we were seventeen – eighteen. Jo Jo my DJ, she’s one of my best friends. You just get to travel the world, do shows with your friends and go out with your friends. It was beautiful. I met loads of good people. Shake’s team were all lovely and we hung out a bunch. They’re really cool. I already knew some of her boys so, it was great!
You mentioned your inner circle’s support throughout this process, they seem to be a big part of tour life. How do you give credit to them?
I think it’s necessary to have them as people around – for me specifically – because I’ve always thought music is fun when you’re making music in the studio. Right? It can be called fun by some people and I guess that’s what most people live for to feel like a proper musician, and when artists dive into their art. But it’s not fun if you don’t do it with your friends. So, if you’re travelling by yourself – it’s cool, It’s nice, but it’s nothing if you’re not able to share it with the people you love. That’s just absolutely, fundamentally key for me.
I’m guessing you’re well-travelled having toured before, but were there any new feelings that came about from taking another trip around Europe?
Where did I go that I hadn’t gone before? I’d never been to Milan, or Barcelona and Madrid in Spain ever. I loved it! Amazing. A city with a beach is a whole different level.
Yeah, it’s beautiful and Barca has that good energy because it’s a 24-hour city!
It was nice. I really enjoyed Germany too. Every time I get asked about a tour, I don’t remember what happened until I start speaking about it and lots of different bits come back and then I’m like – oh sht that happened! I’ll keep it PG. But Barcelona was, beautiful – It rained all the time though. Paris was the best for me. I found a group of people in Paris who are my friends and if I found anything new on tour that I’ve never had before it would be that. I realised that going to Paris felt like a second home. That’s my other city at the moment, and I’m actually going to go back for a little bit and spend a month or two there.
Are there any TV shows or films that you’ve watched that might have given you inspiration for new music?
I’m still just recycling a lot of old classics. I’m trying to think at the top of my head – you know what, when I watch films for inspiration, it’s not always about the storylines or the character, or what happens all the time. It’s more about the feeling that the film creates. There are some old rom-coms that I find really cool which have that classic feel to them! I watched ‘P.S I love you’ recently if you’ve ever seen that before, and this film called ‘Girl interrupted’ – it just looks crazy, and this one called ‘Into the Void’ – just a bunch of different ones!
Similar to films, did you go back to spinning any artists that you’re quite familiar with, or are there any recent ones that have influenced your sound for No More Icons?
For this project specifically, I went back to looking at the iconography of a lot of my old favourite rock stars like Jimmy Hendrix, Lenny and Prince. I looked at their energy and their mythology; by that I mean, what made them icons? How did they move? How do you capture that energy in a project? That’s why the whole album is all guitar led; they’re not all love songs.
A bunch of them are me trying to be way more metaphorical and deeper and not trying to follow a normal structure. I approached it from that standpoint and went back to listen to a lot of old rock albums. I even went further back to hear stuff from the ’80s/’70s, that I didn’t necessarily even like, but I learned different things and came out with this project.
Who were the 70’s/80’s music influences that you didn’t really like but still learned from?
You know what, it wasn’t that I didn’t like them but more that I hadn’t taken the time to listen to them, and when I finally did it was for research purposes. Like there’s this specific song I referenced that I can’t remember at the top of my head but it’s sick. It’s a Rick James song.
When I think about rock music pre-2000’s I think of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, – the heavy rock bands. Nirvana too, which is obviously classic.
I listen to them on a regular basis you get it? Nirvana and Black Sabbath are my every day listen.
If we’re talking modern-day, there’s the Neighbourhood and Royal Blood, they had their track Blood Hands featured on the Divergent Series soundtrack.
Pretty sure I’ve heard it. I love that film.
Cloud X has put together a basketball collective called ‘Cloud X All Stars’ and you seem to be quite involved with that.
I made it!
You founded it? So, what’s going on with that, as well as making music you play a bit of basketball?
I’ve been playing basketball for eight, maybe nine years. I used to play properly for England regional teams doing tournaments or whatever, and then I stopped because of music for a bit. When I say ‘I stopped’, I mean I stopped playing properly. Then I played for a team that I grew up playing for, and now I play for this one. We founded this team which is just a bunch of us who have played together around Brixton and Dulwich, for the last six years maybe.
Long story short, I wanted to start a basketball team with my guy Harry who is a friend of Cloud X and a friend of mine, and I thought it would be so sick to have a Cloud X label team. Get sponsorships, have the name go around – that sort of thing. So now we’re working with this company called SBB who are big content creators. I formed a team with them and some of the guys they play basketball with and then my guys, and we came together. Jordan gave us some free kits and some shoes and we’re going to document the whole thing from us playing in the lower league to hopefully, the best league in the UK.
Would you guys be selling tickets to games for people to attend?
Right now, anyone can just come and watch!
What about holding trials for people to join the team in the future?
We were but I’m very guilty of bringing people in. We all know people who like to play for England or play for Spain, and we had a conversation with the boys about bringing people in but the whole point is, we’re a group of friends who play each other innit. There’s already twelve of us, and it’s cool to bring in this guy and this guy, but for now, it’s like ‘let’s just play with our friends’ – and if we start losing then we can get recruiting!
On the opposite end of sport because if you’re a basketball guy I assume you might not be into football, but we have the world cup right now. Who are you supporting?
I guess England is right. Jamaica aren’t in the world cup are they?
It’s okay none of my countries made it either
Back on the topic of No More Icons, I wanted to get your perspective on how it’s been received so far. Can we expect future shows?
Yeah, I think it’s gone great actually. It’s one of the best-received projects I’ve released, and I also think I’ll be doing shows at the beginning of next year but I kind of want to do them a little bit different. Not the typical headline show thing. I’d maybe want to do a smaller venue five days in a row.
It would create a more intimate feeling.
Imagine doing one hundred and fifty people every day instead of like a thousand, you know? It would be really nice. We’re still in talks about it though.
What’s a track on the album you were challenged to make, but feel very proud of?
I think my favourite in that sense, would be Borrowed Time because it’s not a traditional RnB song and it’s not about love in any way – which is something you’d think about when you’re making RnB, and it’s my dad’s favourite song as well as my manager – David’s – favourite song. It’s the one with most substance and musicality.
Finally, you got a tattoo dedicated to No More Icons the same way you did with Beautiful Disaster. Is it a habit to get a bit of ink each time you release a new project as a way of celebrating?
Yeah, I guess it is kind of that! It’s a combination of getting a tattoo in celebration of it, but also to mark the finishing of it, and completion of a concept because that way I can start mentally preparing for what’s next. Also, I do love getting tattoos because I have loads, but I kind of like the idea of decorating my body with things I’ve created instead of external art. It’s a mix of things that I like and observes, and things that I have made. My tattoos are pretty much an amalgamation of me.