Fluttering between three jobs, classrooms, the KCR studio and the rave scene, Scarlett Santamaria of “Scarlett Letter” is a social butterfly always on the move.
Scarlett, a 4th year communications major, is the host of the aptly named “Scarlett Letter,” an underground electronic music show that brings in guests to share their music and their stories. The show is now on its second season and airs Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Scarlett Letter brings in DJs, producers and experience creators every week to play their music mixes and discuss their own personal experiences, as well as contribute to the larger dialogue about the EDM world. The topic of the show is not a casual interest of Scarlett’s – it’s pretty much her life. It all began when Scarlett was 16 and attended her first rave, Scream, at the Worldbeat Center in Balboa Park, San Diego.
“I remember going in and everyone was really happy and really nice, and all these lights and the music and I thought, ‘Wow. This is amazing,’” she recalled.
Born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Scarlett moved to San Diego when she was 12 years old. Despite her bubbly nature and willingness to talk to anyone, she said she always felt like an outsider. That feeling could have left her defeated and stripped of passion, but she discovered the rave scene and found her home.
“I used to be a scene kid, like I used to dress up crazy. I’ve always been a weirdo,” she said. “I’ve always been an outcast, and I’ve been able to just embrace it and not be ashamed of the weirdo that I am. I feel like I was able to find that outlet through going to raves and just being myself. I think that’s what is beautiful about it and why I’m so passionate about it.”
The goal of Scarlett’s show is to allow listeners to get to know the guests on a deeper and more personal level, uncover electronic music they might not have heard before, stay up to date with upcoming EDM events and learn about the music scene from people living it, not from stereotypes.
“I think that some people have the negative notion that electronic music is just noise and that all DJs do is press play, and that people that go to these events are young and do drugs. I want to change that,” Scarlett said. “The scene is very welcoming and is full of amazing, creative, friendly and talented individuals.”
Last semester, her show was structured in a way that allotted more time to playing the guests’ music than interviewing them. This is something Scarlett wants to change this season.
She wants to make sure the people she brings to the studio have sufficient time to talk about their journey, passion and the obstacles they have had to overcome in order to get to their current status.
“I want people to know that these artists work hard and to hear the challenges they’ve had to face to get where they are,” she said. “We all have a story and you’d be surprised how much you can relate to them.”
Scarlett’s own story has its origins in DJing.
Her father was a popular DJ in Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California. When she was born, he shifted his focus to parenting and leading a more conventional adult life in order to provide for her. “Of course, I happened and he stopped,” Scarlett laughed.
Eight years ago, he began to DJ again and this time, he taught Scarlett everything he knew. The two had a mobile DJing business together but after feeling like she was ready to branch out, Scarlett started her own business entity separate from her father’s.
She has played many gigs from private birthday parties to Petco Park, the San Diego Padres’ baseball stadium. She said she has enjoyed the experience, both the technical and social aspects.
“I was still under 21 and I felt super cool being a DJ,” Scarlett said. “It was a really great experience getting to know people, being in the event and being part of the production.”
Despite calling the experience “really fun,” Scarlett has shifted gears and no longer focuses on her DJ business. She is turning her attention to new ventures such as Scarlett Letter and getting involved in event production.
With so many interests and projects, Scarlett pays extra attention to detail to make sure she is producing work of the highest caliber.
“I am not the type of person that will half-ass anything,” she said. “I will give you my hundred percent. I want to create something good.”
Scarlett Letter has grown into something beyond her imagination. What she thought would just be a fun show to act as a platform for her friends’ art has turned into a partnership with sponsors.
Techniche is one of Scarlett’s partnerships and describes itself on its website as “a Southern California underground dance institution with global reach and universal aspirations representing Tech-House and Techno…” DJ and Producer Myxzlplix headed the Techniche team that helped Scarlett with her show’s logo, banner and promotional pictures, to name a few things. She said she’s incredibly grateful to them for believing in her and helping her turn her show into what it has become.
Be sure to tune into her show on Thursdays at 8 p.m. She’ll save a spot for you on the dance floor. Also, be sure to check out her YouTube channel.
Is she a pineapple on pizza gal?
“Yes! Sometimes I love a combination of sweet and salty. People that don’t like pineapple on pizza are basic.”