Palos de Santos Has Faith In What Will Be
Written by Vocalo Radio on April 9, 2021
Palos de Santos expresses themselves through multiple modes of art — visually and sonically.
Chicago-based painter and musician Palos de Santos didn’t start making music until 2019, several months after receiving a cancer diagnosis. They had always thought of themselves as a visual artist, only to realize they wanted to pursue a career in music. Now, with two artistic disciplines, Palos de Santos’ palette of self-expression has been widened.
Their single “Si Pudieras Entender,” or “If You Could Understand,” was inspired by making difficult choices during the pandemic and was featured on our Poised to Break Through playlist for March 2021.
We chatted with Palos de Santos about self-expression through different artistic mediums, why they decided to make music and about their experience as a queer Mexican American working in the Chicago music and arts community.
What is your background as an artist?
I always considered myself as a visual artist, but after being in remission for a few months I had a realization that I only have one life, so I chose to pursue my passion for music and developed technical production skills to produce my own music. It was around the same time COVID started to appear, so it gave me an opportunity to stay in and enhance a few new skills.
Could you describe a little bit about what it was like attending college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago? What was the arts community there like?
Attending SAIC was a privilege in itself. Besides the student debt, I did appreciate the resources given at the time. Since SAIC focuses on offering multidisciplinary courses, I was able to expand my knowledge in different career courses, like learning about Astrophysics or Taxidermy at the Field Museum.
Could you describe to us your experience in the Chicago music and arts communities as a queer Mexican-American artist?
I have noticed some differences, yet these communities coexist within each other’s spaces. Before COVID, Chicago artists as a community would throw music events throughout the city, and I always noticed that there would be visual art around or live paintings in these spaces. As a queer Mexican artist, I did feel like had to work a little harder to earn my respect in these creative spaces. But over time I developed a strong community that cares more about our own mentalities. These talented individuals love me for me and are supportive. I would not trade it for anything. I’m pretty new to the music industry, on the other hand, so I don’t have much to say on it. I just assume it would be the same approach.
As both a painter and a musician, how do you feel your two artistic disciplines overlap, if at all? How do they inform each other?
Sometimes, instead of visually showing someone something, I just want to express it out through sounds — and this goes vice versa. The best way to explain it is that moment when Remy is experiencing food with color and shapes in the Disney movie Ratatouille.
Do you draw inspiration from the same places when you create music as well as visual art?
I do in a way, I go into this mindset where I’m usually just able to express myself exactly the way I want it. I don’t know how to explain… I stop worrying about everything when I’m in this similar headspace, which I think gives me this confidence.
How has your creative self-expression changed since your diagnosis with cancer in 2019?
Since my diagnosis, I’ve noticed that I am more emotional to others’ experiences and I do see things in a new point of view.
What inspired you when you were writing your single “Si Pudieras Entender”?
COVID forced everyone to make difficult decisions this past year, these current events inspired me to make this song of forcing to choose.
Who are some musicians and artists who have inspired you throughout your life and career?
I enjoy listening to artists that use the strength of their voice as another form of literature of sounds rather than using words, ‘cause words can’t always describe how we feel. That’s why I enjoy listening to Fantasia, India Arie, Anthony Hamilton, Radiohead, etc.
Do you have any words of wisdom you like to reference?
“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.”
– Sonia Ricotti
Do you have anything coming up listeners should know about?
Well, I recently started working on a new mural for Brave Space Alliance in Hyde Park and I’m also releasing new music very soon, so keep an eye out.
Interview edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca.
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