aN AngEL:

10 minutes with London's newest R&B talent

Words by Flora Macdonald Johnston

What is your first memory of music?

My first memory of music is driving down to my grandma’s in the countryside with my dad aged 6 or 7, listening to this one compilation CD he'd burn with loads of soul, jazz and rock legends on it. We'd listen and sing along on the 4-hour drive and to this day I know every song, every pause and scratch.

Your father was a musician, how did this shape your own identity and career?

He introduced me to a lot of different music early on in my life, so I was exposed to so many different sounds. He also gave me a guitar and a laptop. I learnt a lot from him, but he also gave me the space to develop and practice my skills with guidance and help where I needed it.

What does performance mean to you? Has your performance style changed over time?

I used to be a rubbish performer – shy, eyes closed, head down, hiding behind my guitar. I guess I was nervous on stage even though I've never been nervous in person. One of my manager’s boys and a close friend of mine who's an actor booked out a week with me in the studio and just made me perform to him as if I were performing on a massive stage to a crowd. It helped me to open up and unlock what was inside. I learnt how to be comfortable in being myself on stage without a guitar, talking to a crowd and making mistakes – now I love performing. There are no rules, and once I learnt and felt that, I fell further in love with that aspect of my career.

"i UseD tO Be a RuBBisH pERfORmER – sHy, EyEs cLOSeD, HeaD DOwn, HIDIng BeHinD mY gUITaR."

When writing songs, you say you often reference films and music? What's your creative process?

Like a lot of artists, I have different ways I like to create and it changes depending on so many variables like mood, location and if I was previously inspired. I have a book I write in daily, as well as notes in my phone that I constantly update whenever I get inspired by things. I get inspired by a lot of films and love to directly reference them. I usually go into writing a song with a line or feeling in mind and start with guitar.

You're about to go on tour for the first time around Europe, what will be the highlight?

Who knows! I’m looking forward to the European leg as I’ve never done shows outside of London. Berlin is currently sold out and the other dates are a few tickets away from selling out, so I’m looking forward to seeing how my music goes down in different countries. You only ever see numbers online or messages on social media. Seeing fans in real life will be surreal no doubt.

Do you think your stage persona is different to your off-stage persona?

Not really. I think it’s hard to gauge someone’s full personality from seeing them at a distance or in moments (whether that’s onstage or online) but I always try to just be me regardless. Santino Le Saint is who I am 24/7. That’s why I make and release loads of different types of songs and stories in my music as I feel it represents all sides of who I am and what stories I like to tell as a writer and musician.

"i wAnT pEOPLe tO LisTEn TO mY MUsiC In HUnDReDs Of yeARS fROM nOw"

You've mentioned you like to paint, when did this begin?

I’ve always drawn and I studied graphic design in secondary school, college and university but never painted much. Around mid-2021 I started painting some things in my head for my family as gifts and then it just continued.

I have a lot to say in general and only having music as an outlet of expression is limiting of course. I want to continue to learn new skills and try new things and express myself through art as it’s all I’ve done since I can remember.

Three items you can't live without?

My guitars
Basketball shoes

If you could perform with another musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

I’d play guitar for Paramore or System of a Down.

What are your hopes for the future of your music?

To be timeless. I want to leave a legacy. I want people to listen to my music in hundreds of years from now and be in conversations with the G.O.A.Ts.


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