Conversations with SAiiNT: Debut Single, Becoming a Solo Act, and Prince's Songwriting
Every now and then, you come across a brand new act, who despite being a relative newcomer, arrives with the fully-formed creative vision and the songwriting ability of a seasoned artist. Enter SAiiNT, the NYC-based multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter, who has just made his grand entrance to the world of dark alt-pop with the alluring new single and video, "FK ME UP". SAiiNT may be brand new on the scene, but the identity behind the project, Paul James Read, has a long and intriguing history with music. From tearing up the New York live circuit in bands during his youth to his lifelong love of Prince and The Cure, one thing is for sure, his expansive musical education has paved the way for a genre-blurring, multi-sensory artist project.
Check out our conversation below to learn more about the enigmatic, multi-hyphenate, SAiiNT.
RDFO: Let’s start with the origin story. You grew up playing in bands around New York, before turning to collaborations with electronic acts. How did those early days lead you to SAiiNT?
SAiiNT: I love the energy of playing with a live band, but what I want to do most right now, is focus on the song and deliver that as clearly as possible. For starting out SAiiNT, doing that solo was the most direct way, especially in a live setting. The drums and guitars drive up the kinetic energy (def fkn fun for sure), but also drown out the subtleties of vocals and songwriting. At this point, I wanted to go off and write and record until it sounded right.
RDFO: Congratulations on the release of “FK ME UP”. You mention that the song deals with the process of “breaking down and breaking open as we embrace life as a chaotic process”. Is the song based on a personal experience? How have you learned to embrace the unknown?
SAiiNT: Thank you! The song is based on personal experience in general. From a positive perspective, looking back, any time or moment that’s been important involves that element of letting go. There’s also a sort of death drive aspect, where we’re attracted to what could be life-ruining for us, and the synthesis of those perspectives is greeting the moment like, "ok just fuck me up".
Embracing the unknown - through trial and error, learning that not doing is just stagnant, and through meditation.
RDFO: Your music has a very unique sound, there’s definitely an array of influences in there. Which artists or genres have had the biggest impact on the sound we hear in SAiiNT?
SAiiNT: A lot of different artists have influenced the sound. I think listening to lots of music with ethereal textures from a young age, like The Cure, helped inform the sonic structure. Also, listening to artists with tight songwriting like Prince and T. Rex, combined with experimental and deconstructed production of things like Xiu Xiu and Einstürzende Neubauten.
RDFO: We loved the video for “FK ME UP” (directed by indie film director Rachel Wortell. Check it out at the end of the interview) It’s a work of abstract art in its own right, but there also seems to be a pretty distinct creative vision for SAiiNT - from the visuals to the music. Tell us a bit about that creative vision. Where do you draw inspiration from?
SAiiNT: The video was inspired by feelings of separation between people and the disintegration of those separations. Also visually, by our early memories of seeing censored, scrambled content on cable television sets.
RDFO: You’re a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. Given you got your start playing in bands, what made you get into the production side of things?
SAiiNT: It was the next logical step and felt like the right time to take that part over. Handling the production allows the song to come through the way it wants to, without negotiation, and that’s been fun to experience.
RDFO: I was once told by a producer that all artists should learn how to produce their own music, especially when they’re starting out. Do you agree with this?
SAiiNT: Yes. Even if just to be on the same page or understand the perspective of those they’re in collaboration with.
RDFO: And finally, what else can we expect from SAiiNT in 2022?
SAiiNT: 2 more singles upcoming, an EP, and live shows. Thank you! x
Check out the trippy, abstract art-inspired video for "FK ME UP" below.
Cover photo also by Sideara St. Claire