Sonny Santos plays both co-star and cinematographer for the video for “swear 2 g-d,” his new duet with Billie Marten, premiering exclusively below.
The “swear 2 g-d” single, a spare and ambient track featuring Santos and Marten singing mostly together, came out earlier this month as the first salvo for Santos’ upcoming album Hotel de Londres. “I reached out to Billie on a whim after discovering her music shortly before,” Santos says. “I remember being in the mountains of Spain in winter listening to her tunes and really digging them. They seemed to speak to my mindset at the time. I didn’t know her nor expect to ever hear back from her. It was just reaching out on a whim. Surprisingly, not only did she respond but said she’d heard of my music and liked it and would love to do it.”
Marten confirms that she “already knew of Santos’ music with the Shivers and was a big fan of the album Charades, so of course I said yes.” Santos sent her two demo versions of “swear 2 g-d” — “Both beautiful,” Marten notes — and they recorded the track at Urchin Studios in London with Santos’ rhythm section of bassist Nick Pini and drummer Matt Ingram, who also played with Laura Marling. “We did a quick rehearsal in London the day before,” Marten recalls, “us singing with Matt and Nick…me trying to come up with something clever or heartfelt, trying to pick out the tune over (Santos’) voice and contributing something worthwhile. The next day we recorded; It took maybe four, five takes, singing with each other through studio glass. We added some harmonies and various noises to make it the sound it is now. It’s a great song.”
“She was great,” Santos says of Marten. “It was really simple. I remain a big fan.”
Hotel de Londres will be out July 17 and was recorded at Urchin and Press Play Studios in London and at Look To Listen Studios in Brooklyn. A vinyl edition comes out in September to coincide with U.K. tour dates.