To say that Miguel Santiago, aka Saint Guel, has been busy is an understatement. Since his widely raved about back-to-back set with Emel Rowe in Equation Festival last April, the 25-year old producer/DJ has been relentless with his quest to evolve.
With a previous and upcoming release for FuFu Records, captaining the inaugural release of Filipino record label, Transit Records with ‘Over and Over/For the Floor’, partaking in More Rice’s Volume 1 compilation with ‘Still Life’, promising a monthly party in a future Manila club, and now fulfilling an Advanced Sound Design course in Funkhaus Berlin’s Catalyst, Santiago is set on his path to coming back home as a more progressive artist.
“Another purpose for going to Berlin was to produce an EP. I found Manila a bit dry in terms of inspiration due to the lockdown and all the clubs closing. I felt deprived of clubs and the nightlife. It was so difficult for me create a track that I was happy about, it was so frustrating for me. I think that putting myself in a new environment and away from what I am used helped me so much in terms of my creative process when fleshing out ideas.”
With a city loved for its devotion for dance music, it made perfect sense for Santiago to take his frequent visits to another level. Since setting foot last June, he has produced for Cocktail D’Amore’s Luca Trent, and has been unstoppable in consuming and helming new music, not to forget soaking himself in the local community and club scene.
“Berlin is perfect because of the city is so engrossed in dance music, and of course because of its storied history. I wanted to be surrounded with a group of like-minded individuals and absorb what I can. This is my third time here and I don’t think there is any other city with as much creative energy. To be honest, I feel like I learned way more by going to clubs and observing how tracks work on the dance floor, and how different tracks control the energy of the crowd.”
As to what mainly fuels his current productions, he shares: “My biggest inspiration was all the feelings and moments created at Panorama Bar in Berghain. All the recent tracks I’ve made were fleshed out right after coming home from Panorama Bar. This unique place and creative process is very special to me. More than this, this was when I was first introduced to Ouissam in 2019 through a message from Emel, he was able to get me in when he played at Panorama Bar, my first this time. It’s a place I will never be able to fully describe. That experience definitely helped me find myself and expanded my mind.”
Pre-pandemic, Saint Guel was among the most-anticipated DJs in the Filipino dance music scene — an early indication that he is going to help shape a new generation of underground sound. Despite rediscovering his center in Berlin, he intends to scoop up what he’s learned and pour it into the industry back home.
“I hope to be able to bring back and share the beauty of being in a club where you can find yourself and connect with people not through talking, but by sharing the same feeling created on the dancefloor. I do not at all see myself trying to make a name for myself in the berlin community, but instead share the culture that I’ve learned here to enrich Manila and Asia.”
In the grand scheme of things, Santiago isn’t running a race. His fluidity, pace and willingness to better himself every time proves there isn’t a singular stardom moment or a finish line where he will dust himself off and find himself accomplished. If anything, the emerging, eternally-gifted wunderkind is all about constantly growing.
“I personally think that what makes a good DJ and producer is through clocking in hours at clubs, besides digging for music. There is a lot to learn by immersing yourself in a space filled with music and people. I’ve learned so much about how different tracks influences the crowd and creates moments and different feelings. One must understand that tracks don’t always have to be a “banger” – this has improved my production skills and the way I see a good DJ.”
You can follow Saint Guel on Instagram here.
[Images via Saint Guel, UNKNWN, Instagram and Facebook]
Samantha Nicole is Mixmag Asia’s Philippines Correspondent, follow her on Instagram.