STELLA SANTANA: A VOICE TO BE ON ALL OUR MINDS

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“Fuck it. I just want to do it the way I want to do it.”

This pretty much sums up the force that is Stella Santana, both on the mic and off. Her unique sound and sweet yet sassy vocal stylings set her far apart from the iconic music that’s in her DNA, being the daughter of Carlos Santana. With one album (Selfish), an EP (Yayaya) and numerous singles self-released over the last four years (and more on the way!), her dedication to making music came later in life. When she’s not song writing, her other super power comes in the form of her assiduity for social justice, which she has been more than visible and vocal about, especially lately.

Listening to her music can bring about melodic head nods with a seductive feel to get up and dance. Following her on social media means that you’ll be educated within a wide scope of activism: from feminism to LGTBQIA rights, and of course, everything anti-white supremacy, -capitalism and -racism. Stella wears her opinions on her sleeve, in an authentic and unapologetic way. She harnesses an energy in both her music and by how she uses her platform that is affective and contagious – once you get a little dose you just want more.

You’ve collabed in the past with Kamauu, Avi Snow, Flyo and Jesse James Solomon, to name a few – who’s next?

A remix of a song Avi and I did (“On My Mind”, remixed version by Embers) just came out and we did something else that will probably come out in the fall. As far as who’s next… I definitely want to work with a womxn, if it’s going to be someone new. Sometimes the male message is not always a match for me narratively. If I want to say what I really want to say it’s hard for me to find someone who can meet me where I want to be without dumbing it down. So I’m being kind of picky about that. I want to be really inspired by someone – like what they say and who they are is the same…

You have always used your voice for advocacy, and have been very vocal on your platform about the revolution happening now. What do you think are the most important steps people can take to either wake the fuck up or stay woke?

I think if you know what you need, you should go to those things or people. If you don’t have those resources yet, which I think a lot of people don’t, especially with the virus – when that hit and everyone had to be by themselves and sit in our own shit and realize wow, I’ve really been avoiding myself for a long time. And now there’s even more reason to think about yourself and the world we live in and how you see yourself in it. But finding the resources that are healthy for you and the people you can have conversations with – whether because it’s hard to get up in the morning, or you keep crying, or want to light cop cars on fire. But people who can hold the space for you to have the natural emotions of rage or anger or extreme sadness or depression. Everyone’s process is different. People are losing family members and friends because of fighting [over racism]. We all need someone to talk to.

I have a list of action items (we’ve included some of them at the end of this interview), I want to be able to give people things to click on and do. Something that’s really pissing me off about right now is we are all talking a lot, we need to do.

Speaking of speaking out in the face of injustice… The cops: defund or abolish?

Nothing happens overnight, defunding is a step toward the next thing. Everything is a step toward something else. The laws will change when people’s hearts and minds change. For people of color – women of color – for a lot of us, we’ve been saying all of this for a long time and no one has been listening. There’s a lot of people asking for help in understanding all of this, like we also have to be responsible for this explaining.
Like qualified immunity, these things need to be addressed for what the fuck they are. Once that happens, everything can start to be different. There are people who say racism is not systemic within the police… where do we go from there, if people don’t want to acknowledge facts? Prison labor… why should any contracts between prisons and corporations be legal? Like why is that even controversial? We can’t not talk about what is going on. If we can acknowledge facts, and be real about what the fuck is actually going on, then we can get things done.

Growing up a Santana… was there ever a question about the musical path your life would take?

Oh yeah I didn’t want to do music. I didn’t start until I was 28, 29. I played music when I was little, and always loved listening to it, but I always thought the music industry was… dumb. (We laugh). I was dating a guy who was into music – he was really sweet but he wasn’t really doing anything, there just wasn’t a hunger there. And I was like, I can help you! So I started hooking him up with this person and that person and [when it wasn’t working out] then I was like, well I’m just going to use all these resources myself. So I started recording covers and putting them on a sound cloud. Then it was like, ok what’s the next thing – book five shows in a year. What’s next? Ok, now I want to record music, my own music, and write it… and by the time I looked back and realized how much I did, I knew I had to keep pushing myself. I had to get to that place of knowing this is the only thing I want to do.

What are you currently reading, watching, listening to?

Listening to… myself [lol]. Only because I’m working on all this shit. So I’m listening to it, and taking notes.
Reading, I just got Susan Rice’s book, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For.
Watching, there’s this show on the Gaia channel… it’s a documentary on the study of space exploration throughout time. Essentially, the US has been trying to privatize space. Basically what I got from this is that white supremacy is already on the Moon and Mars. [Go figure.]

What can we look forward to in the near future from you?

I’m finishing up an album and a few singles before. I’m hoping to get one out by the end of July and another in probably September. Hopefully by that time my album will be finished!

RESOURCES FROM STELLA SANTANA: LEARN, BURN AND BE ACTIVE

WHAT TO BURN: QUALIFIED IMMUNITY

Google: “qualified immunity”
Google: “Jared Polis + qualified immunity”
[Polis is governor of Colorado, who just signed a sweeping reform bill, which bans chokeholds, shooting fleeing suspects, + makes cops liable for up to $25K for civil misconduct suits, among other reforms]

HOW TO BURN IT
My personal opinion is that our energy is better spent on local + state officials here so…
Identify your mayor and identify your governor based on your city + state. Then write each an email referencing the new bill in Colorado and asking them to consider passing something similar. Get your friends to do it too.

WHAT TO BURN: MAYOR FISCHER OF LOUISVILLE KENTUCKY

Google: “Daniel Cameron”
[Cameron is the Attorney General for KY, who also recently said he refuses to put a timeline on the investigation into Breonna Taylor’s murder.]

Google: “Greg Fischer”

[Fischer is the mayor of Louisville, where Breonna’s murder took place. He is the only one with power to fire and call for arrests/charges for the officers who murdered her. So far, he’s fired one officer.]

Google: “Kentucky + recall provisions”

[Currently there are no clear recall provisions (how the public can remove an elected official from office if he’s being sus) in the state of Kentucky so the only option is to call for the mayor to resign for his negligence.

HOW TO BURN HIM

Do I think Fischer will resign? Not really. BUT I do think keeping the fire hot underneath him and the spotlight shining brightly on him will make him move faster. Also, there are a few of these petitions going around so I linked the one that has the most signatures. Sign it.

There is so much injustice but I’d rather ignite action than overwhelm so here are 8 other petitions for justice that you can learn about, sign + share right now:

Justice for Elijah McClain

Justice for Robert Fuller 

Justice for Malcolm Harsch

Justice for Lakeith Smith + A’donte Washington

Re-open Sandra Bland’s Case

Justice for Chikesia Clemons

Justice for Dounya Zayer

Make Raping Prisoners By Police Illegal — CUZ IT’S NOT WTF

CONNECT WITH STELLA SANTANA

INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // SPOTIFY

photo / Taryn Anderson

story/ Eve Simonsen

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