A Latin pop music duo is blending their favorite genres together in their latest EP.
Santiago Dañino “Santi” Beck has been a musician for as long as he can remember. Born in Lima, Peru and later raised in Washington, D.C., Beck has been writing songs from the time he was young. Despite his passion for music, Beck ended up taking a more traditional route and went into tech after studying at Harvard University. During his time working on the strategy team at Spotify, Beck met Andrew Dominitz, another musician who was working in the tech industry.
“We met through a mutual friend while I was finishing my studies in Boston. [Dominitz] had complementary skillsets to mine — he is a songwriter, a classically trained musician, and knows everything about music theory,” said Beck. “We realized we were on to something special. He had a few beats on his phone and I started singing over them. From that moment, I knew that there was more to come.”
Since 2016, Beck and Dominitz have been writing music together under the name SANTI in New York City. Together they developed a unique style of R&B-infused Latin pop that incorporates English and Spanish into the music.
The duo would share their music with friends and family to get their feedback, and one day a friend offered to send some of their tracks to a music producer.
“It was a shot in the dark, no one expected a response. The producer called me the next day and said, ‘You’re on to something,'” said Beck. “He flew us out to LA to work with Fernando Garibay, who has worked as a producer/songwriter for Lady Gaga, Enrique Iglesias, Britney Spears, so many people. Before we knew it, we were in the studio with these guys writing pitches for Rihanna and Zayn Malik. I never imagined writing cuts for those artists.”
After a few years of writing under Garibay, Beck and Dominitz heard the question they wanted to hear: where is the music that you’ve written for yourselves? In 2019, Garibay helped producer SANTI’s first self-titled album.
“We played him the demo we were working on. When listening to a demo, [the producers] got really intense, nodding along,” said Beck. “They said, ‘You’re ready to publish.’ He cleared his entire schedule and was co-producer on the album.”
Since dropping their first single and album, SANTI has amassed over 4 million streams on Spotify and gained attention from outlets in the United States and overseas. The duo recently released their latest EP, entitled “Neón,” earlier this year.
According to Beck, “Neón” takes several elements of what Beck and Dominitz love in the music they listen to.
“Everything that fell with ‘Neón’ blended a number of genres that we love,” said Beck. “There are 80s elements in there, with gravitating synthesizers and toms, there’s a Latin pop element to it, and an American hip-hop angle to it too. On the one hand, it’s meant to capture the 80s bend of the project, but ‘Neón’ has more meaning. ‘Neon’ in English is meant to capture a broad range of human emotion that we are meant to speak the fact that as humans, we go through a bit of everything, but the term also captures that contrast and ties to the 80s stuff we love.”
While each track is special to SANTI, two tracks, in particular, are must-listens for Beck: París Pa’ Qué and Vente Pa’ Acá.
“One track I like is París Pa’ Qué. It allowed us to demonstrate that we can write good lyrics and share our sense of humor with our audience. It’s meant to be tongue and cheek,” said Beck. “The second, Vente Pa’ Acá, I like more than other tracks this song allowed us to showcase the full spectrum of our talent. It’s our first bilingual track, the verses are in English and the choruses in Spanish, and the outro layers both English and Spanish. In terms of vocals, that’s one of the first tracks where I use all of my vocal registers.”
For Beck, he hopes that “Neón” moves those who listen, not just physically, but emotionally.
“In two senses, listeners can emotionally tap into something they want to tap into, and physically it gets you moving and dancing, that makes us happy,” said Beck. “Secondly, we want to write songs that people can identify with and make people feel seen. We ourselves have songs that make us feel seen, so we know how valuable that is. Everyone has stuff they are working through, especially this past year we’ve been put through the wringer. I hope in our own way it helps make things a little better.”