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New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band R&B Alternative




"STELLA Switch Video"

Wanting to be an artist today can’t be easy -- unless you’re born the daughter of Carlos Santana, a.k.a., the most spiritually enlightened musician ever. In that case, you’re not only destined for it, but you’re also more than equipped to navigate the choppy waters of the music industry (and life, for that matter). That’s the case for Stella Santana, an emerging voice in R&B who goes by the artist name STELLA.

In the new music video for her latest single “Switch,” the 30-year-old singer/songwriter shows an innate soulfulness and sultriness not unlike the voices she grew up listening to and loving in the Bay Area -- women like Brandy, Missy Elliott, and Lauryn Hill. “That whole era of music really shaped me,” she tells Billboard. “There was a strong sense of melody, a soulful quality that I am just drawn to, so when I started making music that’s just what started coming out of me.”

Watch the exclusive premiere of the "Switch" video here:

It was two years ago that STELLA got serious about pursuing music, inspired (like many great artists) by heartbreak. After attending Pepperdine University, she packed up and moved to New York, where she still lives. In August 2014, the yoga enthusiast unveiled her debut single “The Reason.”

“Switch” is a collaboration with Sam Ahrendt and Don Steele, who go by the name Caswell, the same production duo behind the equally soulful track “Friends,” both of which will appear on STELLA's upcoming debut album, Selfish, due in the fall of 2015. Jared Evan (himself an artist) is handling most of the production for the album.

"'Switch’ was the first song that I wrote after my break-up,” says STELLA, who has been playing guitar and piano since she was five. “I didn’t have a melody or a beat for it yet; I just kind of wrote the lyrics out. It was cathartic. I remember sitting on the couch, and it took the whole day for it to come out of me. I was just sobbing, but there was a feeling inside me that kept me going. When my producers played me the beat I thought, ‘This is how I felt that day.’”

STELLA says dad Carlos taught her how to write and sing with transparency. “I remember I would watch musical shows with my dad and he would say things like, ‘I don’t feel that person.’ When I was little it felt like he was judging them but now it feels more like discernment; being able to tell when someone is just singing versus someone who is giving you a piece of their soul. At the time I was like, ‘No, they’re cool,’ and he’d be like, ‘No, they’re wack,’ “ recalls STELLA with a chuckle.

Carlos Santana on the True Meaning of a Legend

The video for the “Switch,” directed by Taryn “Teek” Anderson, has an artsy feel to it, with STELLA wearing angel wings and wigs and making her way throughout an entire day of emotional turmoil. “I wanted to go through that first day when you wake up after you’ve broken up with someone and it hurts,” she says. “You think, ‘How am I going to go through this whole day?’ So it was about moving through those thoughts and emotions -- do you call them back? Do you text him? Do you leave him alone? You can’t figure anything out so I wanted the video to show that pain. Then at the end, there’s a switch. You feel empowered after you realize ‘Wait, I made this decision, I chose to not be with you’ instead of just wondering ‘Why me?’”

STELLA shares that she wasn’t always so spiritual -- or musical, for that matter. It took maturity, as it does for everyone. But being born into the family that she did certainly helped.

“Growing up we would always meditate as a family but I always thought it was boring; I wanted to go outside and play,” shares STELLA. “But eventually I understood it. If we saw a scary movie or something my parents would always tell us to pray, and ask for protection. So I grew up with this idea that I was protected and maybe it’s delusional but it seems to be true so far. They definitely instilled that in us and it’s ongoing. We’re always learning and developing more spiritually.”

Music wasn’t just coming at STELLA from her father’s side. Her mother, Deborah, is herself the daughter of legendary blues guitarist Saunders King, and wrote a memoir about her journey toward spiritual fulfillment (she and Carlos were married for over 30 years, had three children, and separated in 2007). STELLA's brother Salvador Santana is an accomplished musician and keyboardist in his own right, and while Stella doesn’t rule out a family collaboration in the future, for now she’s focused on finding her own sound. In fact, this dedication to herself is what inspired the album’s essence and title, she says.

“I don’t think selfish is a bad word or an insult necessarily. I’ve been called selfish in relationships and I’ve always taken it as somewhat of a compliment because I think that, especially as women, we’re taught to nurture other people and always be giving toward others but never to ourselves first. So I decided two years ago that I was going to end that relationship, I was going to pursue this dream and not get distracted. If I feel lonely or sad, I’m going to write about it -- from the heart, like my dad always says. ”

Listen to more of STELLA on her Soundcloud page. - Billboard Magazine

"STELLA: Friends Premeire"

First off, let’s get it out of the way: STELLA is the daughter of Carlos Santana. But don’t expect any wild guitar solos or vintage rock vibes. “Friends” is her first music video, and it’s an entrancing introduction to her dreamy, soulful sound.

“I come from generations of musicians which obviously includes my father,” she explains. “I feel like I have all of their musical powers combined with my own. It’s very important to me to be responsible with my gift, but I also recognize it as my own, passed down through others who made it their own.”

She doesn’t hide her family history, but she also doesn’t want it to define her. “As people, it’s natural to make pre-conceived judgments or create ideas about things before we know about them so I don’t really worry about it too much,” she says. “I don’t fault people for their reactions because my father has indeed had some tremendous accomplishments, but I also know how to create the necessary boundaries to make sure I protect myself.”

With gorgeous vocals and euphoric production, “Friends” should establish STELLA as a unique artist worth looking out for, and it should also spread a little much-needed positivity. “I was going through a break-up,” STELLA says, “and I was sick of writing about it. So I wrote about what it might be like to vibe with someone else. I decided that I was going to focus on what I wanted for the future and moving forward instead of dwelling on my disappointments.”

Check out the Teek-directed video for “Friends” above, catch STELLA live at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on February 23, and keep up with her on SoundCloud and Facebook. - Pigeons and Planes

"Galore Darling: STELLA"

When I first heard Carlos Santana’s daughter STELLA was making music I immediately thought it was going to sound very similar to his, but it came as such a breath of fresh air. Her voice is awesome and the production is of the highest quality and makes for an amazing listen. Her r&b and hip hop influences are so evident, you can really hear STELLA knows her music. Check out our interview with her below and take a listen to her tracks below.
OK, your dad is Carlos Santana: was it a very natural progression getting into music?
Not sure if it was natural–everyone has a different path… But it’s always been in me. I wasn’t always sure I wanted to participate in that world or the industry but when I really started doing it, I realized this is where I’m supposed to be.

Who influences you?
I grew up in the 90s, I was so into Missy Elliot, Aaliyah, Keith Sweat, Xscape, Mariah Carey, Total… I was drawn to some alternative stuff too… I’ve just always loved to sing. And I always was singing the harmonies to songs without even realizing… Marvin Gaye did lots of harmonies.

How would you describe your music?
I’ve always been really drawn to hip hop. I want my car to be vibrating from the bass… My voice is sweet I think so I like to put pretty melodies on top of heavier bass sounds. I want my music to make you wanna sing but also make you feel like you can do anything. That’s what I’m going for.

How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, if at all?
I’m not really into celebrating war but I think it’s cool that we celebrate a holiday highlighting Mexico’s victory over France. Pretty much has nothing to do with the US…. How cool is that? But it sucks that in reality no one knows that and everyone just gets drunk.

How do you think having a legendary father affects your music and how people perceive you?
There are too many ways for people to perceive me because of my dad so it’s kind of pointless thinking about it. So I don’t. But as far as it affects my music I grew up listening to the greats: Miles, Coltrane, Marley, Marvin, Otis… I’m not trying to recreate the sounds necessarily but I know their sounds have shaped me. - Galore Magazine

"STELLA: Friends"

STELLA’s, “Friends”, continues her trend of dreamy R&B while also intriguing us with more of an upbeat vibe. In “Friends”, STELLA showcases her vocal talent over light, laid-back background tunes that begin strong and slowly fade to give way to more prominent vocals. Their reverberations illuminate the dreamy tone of the song, while a mellow snare, hat pattern, and slight hint of reggae bring us back to reality.

Though STELLA has stayed under the radar by releasing a small amount of music over her debut year, look for much grander things to come from the daughter of world-renowned artist Carlos Santana. Her unique musical style is derived from the seamless combination of vocals and percussion that’s not easily done, so grab a nice pair of headphones and let “Friends” take you on an unparalleled journey into her artistic space.

EDIT: We’ve decided to include STELLA’s second listed track on SoundCloud, “Switch”, below. It’s again produced by Caswell Fontaine, and carries just as admirable an R&B sound as the effort we’ve highlighted above. - Hilly Dilly

"STELLA: Friends"

Musical talent may not be entirely a matter of genetics, but I doubt anyone will be surprised to learn than legendary guitarist Carlos Santana’s daughter, STELLA, is a talented recording artist in her own right. Today, the singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and (according to her bio) yoga enthusiast introduces herself to our front page with Friends, a silky-smooth promo single whose trippy, TK Anderson-directed visuals just premiered over at Pigeons & Planes. Originally released in May, the record features breezy production by Caswell Fontaine. STELLA’s Booth debut isn’t attached to anything larger, but fans can, of course, keep it locked for updates on her burgeoning career in the game. -

"STELLA Friends MNTN Remix"

We previously premiered Christian “MNTN” Mariano’s remixes of Rihanna and T-Pain, and now the New York-based producer returns with a rework of rising singer STELLA’s track “Friends.” While STELLA’s the daughter of legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, the music she writes is a soulful take on R&B.

The original version of “Friends” has been garnering support across the pond on BBC1Xtra and BBC1, MNTN’s remix has also been put into rotation by a number of DJs in the UK. The remix flips the Caswell Fontaine-produced track, providing a Timbaland and grime-infused take on the dreamy sounding original. A personal highlight is the last quarter of the track, which features MNTN adding some juke into the mix.

MNTN also revealed that he and STELLA plan to work on some more material in the future, so hopefully we’ll hear a formal collaboration between the two soon. For now, you can preview what a potential track from the two would sound like below.

STELLA’s project Selfish is slated to arrive sometime this fall. If you haven’t, watch the music video for the original version of “Friends” here.


Make sure to catch MNTN performing new material alongside BOY/FRIEND at our BPM LWR LVL event on July 24. Check the flyer for the event below, and get more details on that here. - Mass Appeal Magazine

"STELLA: Song Siren"



Stella Santana saunters into the photo studio looking like the missing blond member of the Ramones. At first glance, her motorcycle jacket, black skinny jeans and hightop sneakers might fool the average passerby into thinking they’ve just walked past another New York City skate punk but then she smiles…and all I can say is “Gabba Gabba Hey!”

Stella immediately puts everyone at ease with her relaxed charm and after a few minutes in wardrobe and makeup has completed a transformation from skate punk to Siren. Stella is lovely. She is humble; she never name drops, and prefers not to mention that she is part of a music dynasty (Stella is the daughter of music legend Carlos Santana). Just wait until you hear her sing.

Imagista spoke to her about her musical career and her songwriting process. She has a unique approach to creating music – the lyrics and the mood come first and the music and melody come from that. The result is sexy, sultry and likely to make you hit “repeat.”

Imagista: How did you first get into playing your own music?

STELLA: I tried to do it other people’s way but it felt uncomfortable. So I just kept doing it until I was doing it my way – which didn’t really take very long because I’m pretty impatient!

Imagista: Did you know at a young age that you would eventually get into music or were you interested in other things?

SS: I was definitely interested in other things at first. I played piano and saxophone and sang until I was in high school but then I started playing sports – which took a lot of time! I played volleyball for ten years! I didn’t start playing music again until a couple of years ago.

Imagista: As a kid, did you have to play a musical instrument or was that optional?

SS: I think I just started. My brother and I both played piano and we started with lessons when we were five or six. It definitely wasn’t my favorite but I always loved music. I loved listening to it and playing it. But I was really shy – I didn’t want perform in front of people – I was always hiding.

Imagista: What artists or musicians have had the biggest influence on you as a musician?

SS: Lauren Hill the most. Ever. I grew up listening to Bob Marley – the melodies take me to another place. Marvin Gaye – I’ve always loved his harmonies. I grew up listening to 90’s R&B – Missy Elliot, Brandy, Total, Montel Jordan – that’s what has influenced my sound for sure.

Imagista: Do you write your own music?

SS: I write everything. I haven’t done any co-writing yet. I feel like I could co-write if I was writing for someone else but if I’m writing for myself, I know what I want to say and I don’t need anyone to help me. But I’m open to writing with someone else for sure. That would be really fun.

Imagista: In the studio, do you come in with a completed song or do you like to work with other musicians on the arrangements?

SS: Usually, I have the lyrics written when we go into the studio and then once we have the music, I make the lyrics fit. I’m better at working with something, cutting and smoothing, rather than creating on the spot. I can create on the spot, it just takes a little bit longer. But I’ve done both. I’ve gone into the studio with just a beat and no words and not even a concept and I’ve created a song in six hours. I’ve also gone in with the lyrics done and made it happen – which is my favorite!

Imagista: How do you write?

SS: I don’t write melodies. I write lyrics. Once I have the song, the song matches a particular mood and I make them go together and the melody comes from there. I don’t write with an instrument, I write with words.

Imagista: What’s coming up next?

SS: I have a video I’m working on that will come out this summer that is the lead-up to the release of “The Project” – which kind of manifested itself. I wasn’t intentionally creating it but it became done! I want to put that out in September. I also have some performances coming up in New York. Lots of new music and new videos coming in the fall!

Imagista: It sounds like you’ve come into your own as an artist.

SS: Definitely. You’re always learning something. I don’t know everything but I trust my instincts. I know what I want. - Imagista Magazine


Press play on one of Stella Santana’s videos, and it’s hard not to wonder about the story behind her intimate yet deliberately ambiguous storytelling. Instantly relatable in an almost intangible way, her melodies tap into a sort of humanity that’s quite accessible, even if the details of the relationships and life experiences are not clearly spelled out. It’s a skill that some of the most talented songwriters possess–speaking, singing, performing from the heart, but also leaving room for haziness so that any listener can relate.

With only two self-released singles so far (“Friends” and “Switch”), Stella Santana has already connected with producers in New York and beyond to contribute to her debut full-length album, set to drop this September. Keep an eye out for her next single, “Fumes,” produced by uptown’s own Frankie P, of A$AP Ferg, Bodega Bamz, and Onyx production fame.

We sat down to chat with the up-and-coming singer, who is the daughter of rock legend Carlos Santana. Get to know a bit more about this songwriter on the rise, who keeps her heart on her sleeve–albeit with some wise caution.

When did you become serious about pursuing music?
I would say at the end of 2013 I decided to really start pursuing it. I was working with a producer and a writer in LA, and then I realized that I just needed to write my own stuff. I caught myself thinking, “I would never say that. I don’t like that.” And that made me realize maybe I just needed to write my own stuff. After that I made the decision to go for it and left everything else I was doing behind for real.

What else were you into at the time?
I was really into self-help, personal development-type stuff, which I’ve benefited from a lot, but I’m going to be better at reaching the people that I want to reach through music because that’s what comes naturally to me, as opposed to sitting in a room and talking to people, which is fine. But music–it just feels more natural.
What are some aspects of your personal journey that you include in your rituals when you sit down to write a song?
Well, when it comes to my writing I definitely try to be accountable, which sounds so boring. But you know, a lot of songs are like, “This person did me wrong,” or, “I’m going to meet someone else.” And I get that when it comes to love, but I feel like sometimes you have to accept the situation and your contribution to it, instead of being like, “Screw you!” I just try not to be whiny, and not blamey, and accountable for myself, which I think I got from the personal development stuff. It just reminds me, and hopefully other people, that we’re all a lot more powerful than we think we are, as far as our circumstances and our choices. Instead, if you blame someone else and it’s out of your control, then there’s nothing you can really do about it. Accountability is empowering.

I’ve read interviews where you say that you write, sing, and perform “with transparency.” What does that mean for your process?
I’m not a good liar [laughs]. So I just try to be as honest and real about whatever experience it is that I’m talking about. No one needs to know everything. At the same time, I think that I can share enough to where people who are going through the same thing can relate and hopefully feel better, get some wisdom, and hopefully a little release.
How would you describe the sound that you see yourself developing?
I like the chill aspect of the songs, but I want people to be able to bob their heads and also sing along. Because that’s what I like to do–melody is my favorite thing, so I like to focus the most on that. When I hear a cool melody, it’s kind of over at that point, and I’m in love with the song.

Since releasing your first two singles, what’s the response been like?
Everyone likes it! Everyone says, “Yeah it’s really chill. I just want to smoke to it.” [laughs] That’s what I’m going for. I definitely think they’re going to get more of that on the album. I put out those two songs, “Friends” and “Switch,” and then I put out visuals after. So it’s going to be interesting because I’m putting out “Fume” soon, and I’m going to release the song and the video at the same time, which is going to be kind of an experiment. Sometimes I hear a song and then I see the video, and I hate the video and it ruins the song. I can’t un-see it, you know? And sometimes the video really enhances the song, so I’m hoping that this release does the latter and not the former [laughs]. I think it will.
What’s the story behind your next single, “Fumes?”
After I put out the “Friends” video in January, Frankie P hit me up on Instagram and sent me a couple of beats, and the first one I heard was the one that I used. I was like, “Okay, we’re definitely working together.” I think we went into the studio the next week. It’s a very drippy, sexy song. I see colors when I hear music, so it’s very red, dark purple, and black, if that makes any sense at all [laughs]. [It’s a] stumbling-over-but-in-a-sexy-drunk-way song. “Switch” was very clearly a relationship song, and “Fumes” could be a relationship song, but it could also be about coming down from something. I wanted to keep it a little bit ambiguous.

Social media is amazing like that. Is there anyone else you’ve been excited about connecting with since releasing your tracks?
I got to connect with this really talented artist, producer, and performer Jared Evan. I don’t really know how it happened. I had a show out here at Rockwood Music Hall; he missed it, but we met up not long after and connected. Then I went into his apartment where he records. I don’t think we planned on working on anything necessarily. We just played each other our stuff and ended up making a really dope song, and then ended up making four really dope songs, and now he’s on the last five songs of the album. He’s just so talented; he’s been in the industry obviously longer than me. It’s just nice to have someone to talk to who’s smart, who can give me advice. He’s been on tour–he’s really doing a lot of it himself which is what I’m doing too, so it’s nice to hear it from an artist’s perspective. You can’t just be “the artist” anymore, the floaty artist type; I feel like you really have to be business-minded these days, and he is. I’m definitely learning a lot from him. I’m so excited for those songs to come out.

What’s other advice you’ve picked up along the way from your father and extended family?
I would say the advice I got the most is just to remember to do everything from my heart. Then I [will] attract the right people, hopefully, and I can get the right melodies. I can do everything so long as I make sure it’s coming from a real place, from me just trying to connect and share my experience. I think that’s the stuff that connects us most–when we’re vulnerable, which is the scariest thing for everyone, too. I’m just trying to be vulnerable and also to protect myself at the same time. It’s a very interesting line to walk. -

"STELLA: Soul Child Born into Greatness"

Don’t expect any wicked guitar solos or Latin rock rhythms from Carlos Santana’s middle child. Stella’s got velvety chords and soulful storytelling that tap into human emotions — heartache and self-discovery — without the trajectory of her life experiences on wax cut crystal clear. Her music, also not readily distinguishable, dances between R&B and alternative (á la The Weeknd). Yet, performing is undoubtedly in her blood — literally. The flower child’s knack for singing derives not only from her beloved father, but from both her grandfathers who were famous Mariachi and Jazz players, respectively.

After a rigorous spell in academia, where Stella studied intercultural communication and personal development at Pepperdine University, all the universe conspired in helping her realize her true purpose. It was when she was urged to sing a cappella at a school workshop that the stars aligned and inspired a bright-eyed Stella to finally embark on her musical journey. The 20-something strapped on her boots and uprooted from her native San Francisco to live in the concrete jungle of New York City.

Stella, who cites Lauryn Hill, Nelly Furtado, and Missy Elliott as musical influences, has since self-released two dreamy singles (“Friends” and “Switch”), connecting with instrumental producers in the Big Apple to appear in her full-length LP, Selfish. The formal debut, laden with gorgeous vocals and sublime production, is scheduled to drop this September.

Get to know more about the Santana legacy, who’s on the rise and fated for greatness. – Marjua Estevez (@_msestevez) -

"STELLA; Friends"

From the neon lights of the city strip, to its sandy desert paradise, STELLA’s latest visuals for her single “Friends” would be best described as a Las Vegas Wonderland. The b-roll of old slot machines, colorful mushroom clouds, a creepy Zoltar machine, a descending roller coaster within the New York Hotel, all of these images are the backdrop to STELLA’s high-pitched vocals.

Marlon Brando yells for “STELLA” in the iconic clip from the classic “A Streetcar Named Desire,” his strong hands holding onto his face, frantic, and awaiting her return. Her voice reappears, harmonizing to the Bellagio Fountains.

“We could be friends, so tell me would you like that,” she sings, smiling in every frame.

For more about STELLA, read our feature on her in our upcoming issue on Feb. 3rd. - Artsy Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Born in San Francisco, STELLA was raised in a family full of musicians. Both her grandfathers, Jose Santana and Saunders King, instilled music into STELLA from a young age. Along with the encouragement for her own musical pursuits from her father, who just so happens to be Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Carlos Santana, singing and songwriting became inevitable. Few years after graduating Pepperdine University, STELLA moved to New York, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood, where she has been writing and recording independently.

Inspired by artists such as Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, Miles Davis while keeping current artist like Travi$ Scott and Lykke LI in her iTunes library. STELLA’s own sound is strong, soulful, and heartfelt, with her own life - lived experiences being the main focus of what she writes.

STELLA’s debut video “Friends” premiered on the top music site pigeons and planes in early 2015, grabbing the attention of MistaJam at BBC1Xtra, who quickly made “Friends” an Inbox Fresh and Jam Hot Record of the Week – as wells as the attention of former MTV VJ and Radio personality Sway Calloway. MistaJam proclaimed STELLA’s voice was “like butta” and Sway called her “The Truth”.

STELLA’s debut project "Selfish" is slated for fall 2015 release and includes songs “Friends’, “Switch” and the soon to be released “Fumes”. 

Band Members