10 things you need to know about santan dave
As Drake remixes the 17-year-old south London rapper, get to know Santan Dave before he hits the big time.
From Section Boyz to Stormzy, there's no denying the powerful presence of south London rappers right now. Representing Streatham is mononymous rapper Dave, AKA Santan Dave or Dave Santan. Impressing hugely last May with his YouTube debut Black Box, Dave has since clocked up over half a million hits with the darkly dynamic JKL+HYD, with his recent re-re-loadable Fire In The Booth hot on its hit-counter heels. A rapper's rapper, Dave's plaintive rhymes strike many chords, both beautifully righteous and jaw-droopingly raw. He's yet to give many interviews, so we sat down with the 17-year-old to find out what makes him tick. Here are 10 things we learnt about Dave from Dave himself.
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1. His name really is just 'Dave'
"Dave, yeah. My full name is David. I tried to go by a tag name and it went awfully - people laughed at me! So I was like, forget about that, I'm just going to go with my name, Dave. I also go by Santan Dave. Or Dave Santan."
2. Dave likes Anime
"I like the whole culture. I've always like Dragonballz and Neruto, that kind of drawing. My older brother draws so he was always drawing Dragonballz characters and so I got into it from there. Around south London, people my age, it's a big thing to certain people because it's got this weird sense of freedom to it. You can do whatever you want. Characters can look however they want, there's no constraints with CGI or storylines. You create anything, a whole world. Anime is so different, it's such a sick thing because it's not from here. It's from a completely different world, not just the Japan/Asian influence, but the world within itself."
3. Dave is a self-described dilettante
"I was drawing before I did music, but me, I'm a dilettante. I jump into everything until I find one thing that I enjoy more than others. Rap was something that was always there because my brother used to rap - piano and musical instruments is something I learnt on the way."
4. Dave is inspired by film soundtracks
"I've always had a different ear for music. I really enjoy Lana Del Ray and Pink Floyd are amazing. I like soundtracks. I love Hanz Zimmer, the score for the Dark Knight Rises is one of my favourites. I also like Man Of Steel. Inception. Interstellar. Braveheart. Transformers; Steve Jablovski with Arrival to Earth. Schindler's List too, that's beautiful. I've always listened to different styles of music to make sure I'm balanced. I feel like if you only listen to your type of music you can never go outside of it."
5. Dave is currently studying Ethics at college
"I started my first year at college on May 10 2015, and dropped my first video, Black Box on the same day, it's pretty weird. I'm studying Philosophy and Ethics, Law and Music. Ethics helps a lot with music. Philosophy gives you a great perspective on things; it makes you think deeper about what you're saying."
6. Dave plays piano well. Really, really well.
"Yeah I play piano, to quite a serious level, Grade 7. I used to spend four or five hours a day practicing, though that's dropped down a bit recently. The piano is an instrument I've always loved and so I taught myself. As a rapper, who wants to produce more, being able to play by ear helps a lot because I know where I want an instrument to turn or how I want it to sound without having to do too much work. [My favourite song is] probably Hanz Zimmer's Like a Dog Chasing Cars. It's from the Dark Knight. Wait there [runs to piano and plays] this one. My favourite song to play though is Kingdom Hearts II, Passion. It's from a Japanese game."
7. Dave has some famous fans
"Stormzy's been showing me mad love, I've got mad love for Stormzy, he's a great guy. Yeah Stormzy and Wiley, they are two very big names that have shown me love. Also Potter Payper and Devlin have been supporting, all my guys from Hackney, George the Poet. Oh and Will Poulter. Is that his name? the actor? That was a strange one, but that was sick.
8. The most important people in Dave's life are his brothers
"They remind me to make use of everything I have, all the time, everything I take for granted. That's why a lot of my music is brother-centric. In my FITB I purposely didn't mention their names or stuff about them because other tracks I have mentioned them all the time. But they're actually so important to me, their influence, everything around me. That's why it shows up in my music a lot. It means a lot to me for them to hear my music now they're in prison. They got to hear my Fire In The Booth. Whenever I speak to my brothers in prison - not just them actually, I have nine or 10 very close friends in prison - to have all of them calling me to tell me they heard me on the radio. That's always been so important to me, because they can't listen to their own music in there, so to be able to change that from a year ago, watching them complain about the music they're listening to, to a year later, is crazy."
9. Dave reminds i-D of a young Klashenkoff
"Yeah I've heard of Klashnekoff, someone else said that to me before. The balance of being political and relatable is one that people need to make sure they reach correctly. You don't want to be a preacher, but then you don't want to be too aggressive and not deliver a message at all. I want my music to have content but also be listenable. Sometimes I might make music that has no content, but whenever I'm at big platforms, it's good to deliver a message. When I had my Warm Up, I used my opportunity to go and deliver a message because I know people are going to see it. I don't want a lot of people seeing the wrong thing."
10. He has a grime track with AJ Tracey coming soon
"Yeah, we're good friends, still."
Text Hattie Collins
Photography Lily Bertrand-Webb