Santino Le Saint’s signature sound makes use of haunting cuts, alternative-rock guitar solos that sound like they came straight out of anime theme songs (in a good way), and the intimate telling of love stories based on his personal experiences through melancholic melodies. Since then, he’s been consistent on his journey, earning the recognition he so greatly deserves with more than 2.1 million views on the official music video for ‘Maria Don’t Call Me‘ and he’s back with part one of the two-part Matrix-inspired Blue Pill EP. Before we get to unpacking this theory, here’s a little look into the man who’s brought us all here today, Santino Le Saint.
Santino Le Saint is a 22-year-old musician from Brixton who started playing the guitar and piano at the age of 8. He grew up around music – being the son of iconic hip-hop producer Charlie Parker – listening to rock legends such as Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, and Ozzy Osborne.
His experience in instrumentation & arrangement is evident in the cinematic music he produces. Santino Le Saint performed “I Know” which premiered on the 13th of August as well as “Cigarettes and Alcohol” which premiered the very next day on the COLORS show official YouTube channel.
Back in 2018, Santino and Aaron Unknown released a single called ‘How Do You Feel’, folloed by he released solo EP’s called the Cloud 304, Xeno EP later that year (there’s a song called “Magic” on this project – [chef’s kiss]), and the official audio for his hit single ‘Maria Don’t Call Me‘.
In February of 2020, he released his first album called Rage of Angels. Mostly produced and written by him, with behind-the-scenes appearances by Sidney Swift, Sakima, and Sprtk, Rage of Angels touches on amenability and the value of honesty which is quite the segue to the anomaly that is his latest offering.
Let’s Talk About The Blue Pill.
According to various film theorists, taking the blue pill is described as choosing slavery and being dependant on a power source that is independent of you. In The Matrix, much as it is not blatantly discussed as such, the people who have lived in the purple area are the ones who are at risk, as they are susceptible to falling on either side of the pharmaceutical spectrum. They are depicted as being subconsciously blue-pilled and the aim is to free humanity by destroying the matrix that they know nothing about, in the grander scheme of things. “Only the meek shall inherit the Earth”, right? Well, Santino Le Saint released the Blue Pill EP on the 4th of September 2020 and it must be heard. In this project, he embodies the role of a 20-something, self-destructive savage. His sassy, moody, look at how love breaks down the blissful ignorance that comes with relinquishing personal responsibility takes an entitled, pacifist approach to conflict resolution.
1. The Party
Since the hottest trend of 2020 is “Understanding the Laws Of Attraction”, I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about the power of words. The Party is the epitome of the concept of “trap” music. You see, we often gravitate towards what seems like the perfect places to go when we don’t feel alright. For most, if not all of our lives, we’d give in to whilin’ as an excuse to release emotions without any real consequences or fear of judgement. We’d have funny stories to take home and make meaningless connections for the sake of the moment. For example, I swapped shoes with this gorgeous girl on a night out once and never saw her again. True story.
Santino starts this song off with a heavy cello, calling you into the halls of supposed freedom, supported by a deep bassline – creating the effect that you’re about to enter a bubble. As the doors to this bubble open, his voice becomes the center of attention in the hook, with lyrics that sound like he’s offering you an assortment of night-time recreations. The 808’s and guitar have the intensity of a car chase in Need for Speed. Plot Twist: you’re in the passenger seat. As much as there is no greater pleasure than freedom, material sustenance will grant you that power. Welcome to the trap. The door will close behind you automatically.
2. Ecstasy ft. InfamousIzak
The hook of this song is like a slurred “Hey Stranger” text from someone who still holds onto the notion that sex with you will get them out of their rut – again. The thrill of the chase is usually fuelled by passion and lust – hence Ecstasy. By definition, ‘ecstasy’ is ‘the mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things’. For some, a good cuddle and a chat is a hindrance to progress whereas, for others, the casual thing is a personal preference. Now, much as I’ve talked absolute smack in the first few sentences, I urge you to hear me out. Indulge me a little.
The lyrics in Ecstasy are a prime example of good communication skills and the ominous guitar picks add an element of mystery. INFAMOUSIZAK and Santino Le Saint are very specific when it comes to what they want – no drama, no games, no love. Seems brash but it’s respectful in its own rite. There is no room for mixed emotions or confusion. The high that comes with Ecstasy is non-addictive until a person chooses to create a codependent relationship with the search for joy and pleasure.
At no point in the song is the love-interest called anything degrading or slanderous. Terms & Conditions are laid out and it is up to said love interest to check the box or not. According to NME, INFAMOUSIZAK is a self-starting London rapper who intends to associate his name with high-level pieces of art. He fell in love with music after taking a chance on it and it worked out. His eclectic sound has evolved so much over time, becoming more inclusive of his roots as well as his versatile tastes. If you enjoy music by a South African rapper called A.K.A, look into INFAMOUSIZAK. This independent artist is featured in Ecstasy and his verse matters.
3. Serotonin ft. Cruz Cafuné
Fun Fact: the neurotransmitter in the brain that is stimulated after the Ecstasy kicks in is Serotonin. Serotonin plays a significant role in mood, sleep, pain, and appetite regulation. Over-stimulation of Serotonin can lead to a depletion thereof – but we’ll get to how that happens in the next song. Let’s appreciate the sensuality that Cruz Cafuné brings to this song. His philosophy is that there is a huge gap in the market, so much so that it is very much possible to be successful without leaving home. Most of his music sheds light on the trouble associated with choosing the blue pill, which is what makes him a well-chosen feature for this here project.
Now, Spanish is one of those languages that everybody wants to learn but nobody actually does unless they’re culturally inclined or domicile-bound in regions where it is spoken. I don’t blame you. I only know four phrases and ‘estoy tranquilo’ meaning “I’m calm” is one of them. Out of all the songs on this project, this is, by far, the most light-hearted of them all, so much so that it could have been the closer. But no, Santino Le Saint had other plans. Serotonin is a nostalgic tale of travel with a companion back when the borders were open. From city to city and suite to suite, the infatuation formed in the bubble grows.
4. I Know
Ahh – the crash. When The Party is over, the Ecstacy is no more and the Serotonin has depleted, the harsh realities of solemnity come to the fore in I Know. After listening to this EP about 100 times, I hoped that this song would have been the first but I am glad that it is the last. The bubble does pop eventually. Featured on the COLORS show, I Know is one of those reminders of the impermanence of the pleasure matrix. There are high highs and low lows, loose ends to cut unapologetically. Out of sight, out of mind.
I’ve often found myself wishing that more alternative songwriters were more grammatically correct. Although, in some instances, I can appreciate the contrasting perspectives that the grammatically incorrect lyrics have to offer – take “there ain’t no synergy in misery” for example. On one hand, it is implied that synergy is a positive thing, for the greater good. On the other hand, synergy is the unification of various sources of energy serving a greater purpose – misery being one of them. The harmonies and ad-libs in the COLORS version are amazing. He showcases his vocal range a bit more and we get to see the “less methodical” version of his craft. It isn’t much else I can say about this song. It speaks for itself.
What a ride. As we all know, the action/cyberpunk classic ‘The Matrix’ challenges existential crises, namely the question of blind faith vs. actionable knowledge. By pulling apart universal dynamics, shedding light on the unseen battles between collection and connection, the film series highlights a very important virtue as depicted in the crucial ‘red pill or blue pill’ scene: we ALL have a choice.
The film series draws focus to the premise of religion, the purpose of oppression, principles of faith, the power of wisdom, and, of course, the agility of a young Keanu Reeves. If you haven’t seen the trilogy by now, you haven’t yet made the best use of your quarantine time. Go ahead and @ me – I ain’t scared. How is this relevant? Well, the blue pill and the red pill represent two different paths and in this EP, Santino focuses primarily on the path characterised by blissful ignorance.
Would it be mean if I said that Santino Le Saint is like the Taylor Swift of alternative trapsoul? I mean, this EP is an explicit look into the reasons behind the madness that people harbour within them. We’ve established that this EP is headed in the same direction that The Weeknd’s ‘Starboy’ album did. Melancholy sells… A little more than sex these days. We all remember what happened when Abel Makkonen Tesfaye slid through with ‘Wicked Games’ back in the day, right? The idea is ingenious. But once the ships have sailed, and the Blue Pill has been swallowed, what else is left other than a glass-half-empty and the taste of bitterness?