Now considered a pioneer of post-genre pop, singer-songwriter Santigold (the stage name of Santi White) burst onto the late-noughties indie scene with her self-titled solo debut in 2008. Fusing reggae rhythms with bright synths, brooding R&B, and punk rock ethos, Santigold created her own shape-shifting sound – paving the way for young innovators like Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish.
In an interview with Five Books, the artist shared five music books that most influenced her eclectic style. From the reminiscings of ’70s rockers to the spiritual history of women drummers, find her favorites below. Complement with the bookshelves of Jhené Aiko, Grimes, St. Vincent, and David Byrne.
When the Drummers Were Women by Layne Redmond
“This book is not just about drumming, it’s also about gender, history and spirituality. It tells the story of the relationship between women, music, religion and power. Thousands of years before Christ, women played hand drums, specifically the frame drum, in religious ceremonies, as we can see in surviving images of goddesses. Music and rhythm are intrinsically a part of spirituality, but originally women set the beat. But with the advent of Christianity, ceremonial drumming, which was associated with paganism, stops. Drums were silenced and so were women.” -S
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain (also rec’d by Kim Gordon & St. Vincent)
“Please Kill Me is one of the most fun books I’ve ever read. It’s basically a collection of oral histories, first-hand accounts from all the people who were around in New York as punk began. It’s the inside scoop on everything punk, with all kinds of details about who hooked up with who and the crazy shit they did. It’s not like reading a history book – it’s almost like being there, talking to all these people who were part of the birth of punk.” -S
Alternative Rock by Dave Thompson
“It’s a reference book, but it’s so interesting to read. I got it back in college, during the nineties. It includes anybody that you ever heard of from somebody else. It’s a beginners’ guide to every band in that genre – it tells you the best records and a bit of background, just enough to pique your interest. I learned about so many bands and records just from flipping through the book. You could do random searches on the Internet but it wouldn’t be the same. It’s really cool to have all this in one place.” -S
Q by Quincy Jones
“It’s about Quincy Jones’s journey. He started out poor, born on the South Side of Chicago to a mentally ill mother. He went on to become one of the most influential producers in the industry. Music sort of saved him. He started to tour as a back-up musician in his teens with these amazing jazz bands. He ended up scoring all these movies, and then he got into producing. Quincy Jones produced the main Michael Jackson records. He started so young and he accomplished so much.” -S
Divided Soul by David Ritz
“I grew up listening to a lot of Marvin Gaye – my father was a huge fan. The day that Marvin Gaye was killed, my dad was affected so strongly he could barely speak. I didn’t understand why until I read the book. It gives you a sense of the struggles Marvin Gaye went through, as an artist and as a man – his struggle with the spotlight, his struggle with spirituality, his struggle with family and his struggle with drugs. It’s so wonderfully written and really riveting.” -S
(via Five Books)