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issue 001 march | 1 | 2013

XXL interview with SG1s

22nd century dancing

In 100 years, music concerts without
dramatic dancers will enjoy the popularity of water-flavored snow cones. Historians will be well advised to attribute this circumstance to SG1s, Santigold's fantastic dance duo that irrevocably implanted its idiosyncratic take on classical dancing into pop music as early as 2007.
Monica and Desiree doing research for SG1
Monica Josette (l.) and Desiree Godsell are SG1s
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

But what's classical about robot ballet, sledgehammer swinging and martial arts cheerleading in the first place? Find out in Expedition I:T:L:I:E's super-size interview with dancers-actresses-choreographers Monica Josette a.k.a. Moni-Jo and Desiree Godsell a.k.a. Des de la.

Interview and story: Ed Liftpirat and Kurt Koehler

JUMP TO Full interview | High school yearsCollege years | Joining SantigoldThe SG1 characters  | Influences | Character personalities | Eeriness | Costumes | Misbehaving | The art of dancing |  SG1s' alternates | Professional hazards | Wolves and cats | BreakfastTelevision | First music tape | Santigold's music | Language skills | Other characters | Recreation | Desiree's career | Recognition | Monica's career | Life in Europe | Life in Houston | Humor | 800 miles between Atlanta and Brooklyn | Monica and Desiree in 2013

SG1S RECOMMEND...   The perfect workout song  |  The perfect down in a hole song  |
The perfect anger management song  |  The perfect lullaby  |  
The perfect longing to be somewhere else song 

Santigold at Rote Fabrik, Zurich, Switzerland 2009
 Santigold at Rote Fabrik, Zurich 2009
You will be redirected to YouTube to watch this video
2009. It is a muggy summer night near the waterfront of Lake Zurich. Muffled bass throbs fill the courtyard of graffiti-covered Rote Fabrik. Crowds pour into an already packed music hall. With a heavy dose of gut-busting electronic ragga, Terry Lynn confidently sets the pace for a much anticipated evening with pop activist Santigold.

But then it's time to exercise thumb twiddling and fingernail biting. Just as the audience goes vocal, there is movement on stage. A band settles in. A gloomy bass floor is laid, and shrieking treble ensues. The stage lights up, and there she is: the emerging empress of Collage Music. Dressed in a catsuit reminiscent of alien mothership commander Diana's uniform in V (1983), Santigold gets right down to business. The crowd witnesses the comeback of clever and demanding expressionist pop music.

To Santigold's left and right, two motionless, fierce-looking figures with sunglasses have positioned themselves. They are wearing white blouses, golden vests and baggy black trousers. Are they Santigold's bodyguards?

But then a twitch runs through her companions, as if they've been fed with electric current. Their fists go up in the air, and suddenly they break out into violent robotic dance moves. With stoic faces, they emit single yells and monotone phrases. Eery and spell-binding at once, they defy all classical definitions of backup singers.

It is one of those rare performances that leave you wondering what in the world you just witnessed. Your imagination runs wild: These girls must have been assembled in a secret A.I. lab. They must have been sent back through time. They have come to wipe away a decade of unmotivated ass-wiggling and mindless baby-this-baby-that.

And then it's over. A euphoric audience leaves the venue. A guy in a biker jacket wants to know where to get season tickets for Santigold's tour. And Santigold's mysterious "robot girls" are the uncontested topic of the evening.

Three years can feel like an eternity. In May 2012, the pop world is at last rewarded with Santigold's new album, intriguingly named Master of My Make-Believe. A new world tour is announced. Rumors are spreading that the "marionette girls" will be onboard again. By now, it has filtered down to Santigold's global fan base that the dance duo has a name. They are SG1s.

And sure enough, they're back. Sun glasses and straight faces, and yet barely recognizable. Somewhere along the way, these characters must have tasted life. They now have costume changes on stage. They go to work with corporate briefcases, lassos and other dramatic props. They engage in umbrella twirling, butt drumming and something that looks like sumo wrestling. They display emotions and attitude 
they fight for attention, they're silly, even frisky at times. And when their boss takes a break, they seize the opportunity and turn the stage into their playground.

Expedition IsThereLifeInEurope decided it was high time the world got to know the artists behind these fascinating characters. In August 2012, chief explorers Ed Liftpirat and Kurt Koehler contacted dancers-actresses-choreographers Desiree Godsell and Monica Josette about an interview. The result is the 33-foot conversation below.

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SG1 elevator - 2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

SG1s in Kaufleuten, Zurich, August 2012
It's on.
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @
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The following interview took place in a hotel lobby in Zurich, Switzerland on August 27, 2012 and was complemented with follow-up questions-and-answers from an online transatlantic chat between Des de la, Moni-Jo and Expedition I:T:L:I:E on February 4, 2013.

EXPEDITION: Monica and Desiree, you both grew up in Houston, Texas. Did you know each other back then? Were you friends before SG1?

DESIREE: Yeah! I know Monica since I was in 9th grade. She was a year ahead of me in school. We both went to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. And yes, we were friends before. Actually, I was in Monica's senior piece in high school.

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MONICA: Yeah, you have to choreograph a piece. You can't be in your own piece, so you have to pick dancers. I had a corps de ballet, and Desiree was my soloist.

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EXPEDITION: So in a way you discovered Desiree?

MONICA: Yeah! [laughs]

EXPEDITION: This school doesn't sound like your average American high school.

MONICA: It's not!

DESIREE: Did you see the movie FameIt's kind of like that, it's an arts magnet high school. You have to audition to get in. There's like 600 kids in the whole school that are focused and spend maybe three hours a day in their art discipline. It’s a really good school, it has turned out a lot of amazing artists. A lot of them we are still friends with.
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SG1 and doneOfficial SG1 logo
Follow SG1s on Twitter!

SG1s martial arts cheerleading
Catching up on
extracurricular activities
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

EXPEDITION: Beyoncé Knowles went to HSPVA, according to the school's website.

DESIREE: She went there for like a second year.

MONICA: For like two years, I think.

DESIREE: And Robert Glasper went there.

MONICA: So many people, it's hard to go down the list.

EXPEDITION: Was there a football and a cheerleading team?

[Desiree laughs]

MONICA: No! We have a joke  it's a T-shirt that says "Undefeated since 1971"... because there's no team!

EXPEDITION: What were your favorite subjects in school?

MONICA: You mean outside the art area? For me probably history and science.

DESIREE: History for me – by far.
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EXPEDITION: You went on to study dance at different universities. Did you go separate ways in terms of dance form as well?

e both were Modern Dance majors.

DESIREE: Maybe after college we took on projects that helped us branch out in different ways...

EXPEDITION: You both became dancers for Santigold. How did that happen?

MONICA: A production manager that knew me from an Off-Broadway show casting knew Santi's then-manager and recommended me as a possible fit. Later Santi asked me if I knew another good dancer and I recommended Desiree.

DESIREE: People from Houston are like a tribe in New York... And since Monica and I danced together in high school, it was only natural that she recommend that I audition for Santi.
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University of Oklahoma & University of Arts Philadelphia map
Monica graduated from the University of Oklahoma (OU) and
Desiree graduated from the University
of the Arts in Philadelphia (UArts)

2013 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

The Agatha and Agnes Gold era
The Agatha & Agnes Gold era

EXPEDITION: Who are Agatha and Agnes Gold?

[Both laugh]
MONICA: It's funny that you even know that! Those were originally our character names. I'm not sure we stuck with it...

DESIREE: I think they got lost in space. But SG1s, that stuck with us, that’s who we are.

MONICA: In terms of us being dancers as well as actresses, our personal approach to our personal SG1 is slightly different anyway. Desiree is a little more playful. And people are scared of me usually! [laughs]
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So when we came up with Agatha and Agnes, we were like: You know what, our characters are two people similar to the Odd Couple. Of course we're a reflection of Santi's vision and Santi's project, but then also, what we bring to this role, these characters, that's truly who we are as people.

Sometimes there is also a mysterious element 
who are we really?  because our characters don't have very much facial expression. But if you're really engaged in the performance, you will see the difference between us.

EXPEDITION: Which one of you was Agatha, and which one of you was Agnes?

MONICA: Did we ever decide? I think I was Agatha.

DESIREE: Yeah, I think I was Agnes.

EXPEDITION: Is there a meaning to these names?

DESIREE: Agatha and Agnes are names that no-one uses anymore. They are kind of for older people, you know? So we were like: That sounds funny for it to be two young, serious-looking black girls dancing onstage.
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Desiree quoted on characters

Saint Agatha and Saint Agnes
Older people: St. Agatha and St. Agnes

Monica, Santi and Desiree
So damn gold! Santi White (middle) a.k.a. Santigold with Monica Josette and Desiree Godsell
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Monica quoted on dance education
EXPEDITION: How did the unique SG1 characters come about?
Who invented them?

DESIREE: To begin with: When we first came aboard Santi's project, we talked to her, worked with her, and heard her vision. Santi is very much a part of everything that she does. She curates her world, her space, and that would
also involve what's happening on stage. She has very much taken on a directorial approach.

But like we were saying, we bring our personalities to SG1s. We've brought on our backgrounds, our dance history and our interests to this project. That would be our musical references, our social dance references, the kind of things that we enjoy doing or the way we enjoyed dancing growing up, combined with that of Santi's. So SG1s are a mashup, an amalgamation of all those things.

MONICA: Another thing is that Desiree and I are ex-classical dancers. If we were to get some hip-hop dancers and have them do the same thing, it would read differently because they have a different dance education.

Audio icon
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I think it's because we have had a lot of dance training and a lot of dance theory that a lot of the things we do are conceptual. There is a meaning behind a lot of the things we do.

MONICA: An intent at least.

DESIREE: Maybe the meaning is no meaning at all, but it's very thought about, instead of it being just pure choreography for choreography's sake.

Now, the name SG1, that was kind of a play on words at first – from the S1Ws of Public Enemy.
It's a very big influence...
EXPEDITION: The guys with sunglasses...

MONICA: …that were really military-style, yeah.
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SG1 elevator - 2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

Des de la and Moni-Jo wear goldLimited budget, maximum style:
         Santi's visions materialized

EXPEDITION: You said that creating SG1s involved a lot of conceptual work. Does this mean there is an actual script?

MONICA: Not in a formal sense. We might write down ideas we have. As Desiree said, Santi is a curator. It's her music, it's her vision, and we are helping to interpret her vision through the dance. Santi has ideas about what she wants to project in the songs, so when we get together in a room, we all listen to it and figure out individually what we think the song is, what we see.

DESIREE: We have our notebooks, and then we're like: What did we see? What do we see happening during the song that we can create in a DIY kind of way? If we had Lady Gaga budgets, we'd be doing crazy off the chain things! In that way we've had to be really creative. When you're given limits, you have to work within those limits, but also try to think outside of the box.

MONICA: It can be really painstaking sometimes. We've re-choreographed some of the old songs several times. You gotta reach back into the pot every time and try to figure out how to reinvent this thing we've done a hundred times.

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Monica and Desiree at the interview in Zurich, August 2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E
Interview in Zurich
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @
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EXPEDITION: As you already mentioned, if one looks past the uniforms and the synchronized moves,
your SG1s emerge as two quite distinct personalities...

MONICA: I think it would be the same thing as if you asked two separate actresses to play the same role. There would be quirks and things that are obviously different, because two people view the same thing through a different lens. Your own persona comes into play, it can't be avoided, you know what I mean? Desiree is very a playful, boisterous, amicable person. I'm a little more demure, a little more one-on-one. I think that part is obvious.

EXPEDITION: So in a way your characters reflect Monica and Desiree?

MONICA: Not totally, but in a way.

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Monica quoted on persona

Santigold and SG1s at the video shoot for Creator
Don't mess with Santigold.

EXPEDITION: Why do you think people tend to be intimidated by SG1s? Television host Stephen Colbert asked Santi in his late night show whether you were raised by wolves...

[Both laugh]

DESIREE: You know, I think that when you don't automatically get an expression from people, it's like: What's going on?! You just concoct all these things in your head, like how they're mean. But we're really just expressionless. We have glasses, we're not making a lot of facial expressions, and I think because of that people are like: Errr...

MONICA: I think recently we've begun to make more facial expressions than in the past. I feel like SG1 is ever evolving. It changes depending on what it needs to be. It has its foundation of what it is, but then it's flexible, so to speak, the same way that Santi's music is changing and growing.

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EXPEDITION: Yeah, in fact, this summer we once caught you smiling on stage...

[Both laugh]

DESIREE: We were probably already laughing backstage. Something probably went wrong!

MONICA: Yeah, we probably couldn't help but laugh! And then sometimes we have things happening on stage. Like if we turn around, the guys from the band will try to make us laugh…

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Phonetic transcription of SG1

SG1s at the Big Mouth video shoot
SG1s now smile, occasionally.
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Santi pattern - 2013 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E

2013 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

EXPEDITION: You wear very unusual costumes. Who designs them, and who makes them?

MONICA: Santi and her stylist, April Roomet.

EXPEDITION: So Santi even knits and sews for you..?

MONICA: No, she has someone make the costumes after she designs them and picks fabrics.

EXPEDITION: Do you have a say in what you will wear, or is there a risk that you'll end up having to go on stage wearing octopus costumes and hating it?

DESIREE: [laughs] That very well could happen! Santi has a very focused vision about what she likes to see and hear. Well, if we ever feel uncomfortable in something... then we wouldn't have to wear it. But Santi's the director!
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EXPEDITION: If SG1s ever got kicked out of Santigold for misbehaving on stage or refusing to wear any of Santi's designs, where would they find a new purpose? We're talking on a fictional level…

MONICA: We'd find ourselves in what... Santi prison..!

[Both laugh]

DESIREE: Santi hell!

MONICA: ...a truth Tourette's prison where you’re locked in a cell and everyone keeps telling you the truth about what's wrong with you.

DESIREE: A truth prison with no air conditioning..!
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Moni-Jo, Des de la, and Santigold
Monica, Desiree and Santi

SG1s at soundcheck
Sound- and twirlcheck

EXPEDITION: What a terrifying thought! - Now let's get technical. How do you stay synchronized without looking at each other? Are you counting? Is there a code involved that we are not supposed to know about?

DESIREE: No, no, it's pretty much just dance and choreography. We know that at this time in the music we're supposed to be doing this particular move. But also, why it just works so well is that me and Monica have known each other for so long that we can kind of sense... I know pretty much what she's gonna do.

And then we have peripheral vision. That's a good thing about wearing the glasses 
in case something does go wrong and I'm like: Ok, if she didn't do that, then let me not do this the next time. We have such good rapport with each other. But we choreograph it so that we know what's happening at all times.
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While their boss is off-stage, SG1s switch to mischief mode
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @
Internet Explorer? In order to watch the embedded video directly on this site, you must allow blocked content.
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Of course, every now and then there will be improvisational moments, moments where we have to adjust. And like Desiree said: Because we've known each other for so long, it just kind of falls into place. We'll just look at each other and be like: Ready? Here we go! And it's cool, because we don't have to talk about it necessarily.

EXPEDITION: What makes a good dancer?

MONICA: In general?

DESIREE: Or a good dancer for this project? We can talk about the alternates we've used, when we've auditioned them, what qualities we're looking for for someone to become an SG1.

EXPEDITION: Excellent!

DESIREE: We're looking for someone who picks up style really fast...

MONICA: and intent…
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SG1s behind the scenes
Donning the work gear

Monica quoted on classical dance
...and for someone who has a large dance vocabulary.

MONICA: And who is a bit of an actress. Because you kind of have to be, you know?

DESIREE: To communicate, that's another thing. We were talking about how Santi is really big on curating her space, and bringing us to help facilitate that. I think that also goes for her getting out what she wants to communicate through her clothing, through the choreography, through her music 
so she'll be looking for someone who can help bring that message out.

EXPEDITION:  Dancing and acting - can it even be kept apart?

MONICA: It's very similar. I always make a differentiation between commercial and classical dancing, because in classical form you are an actress as well. Whether it's ballet or modern dance: when you're dancing you're also telling a story. In commercial dance that is not necessarily the case. You're sometimes just doing movement...

DESIREE: …for movement's sake.

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EXPEDITION: Are your alternates always present when you rehearse?

No, they're not always present. They come in after we've already choreographed something and close to the time of performance.

EXPEDITION: When are they called into action?

When one of us is hurt or unavailable.

DESIREE: Basically the show doesn't go on without me and Monica, I mean without SG1s. They're really present in the project.

EXPEDITION: Is dancing a hazardous profession?

Very. It's hard on the body and there are lots of outside factors that can affect you - slippery stages et cetera...
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Des de la and Moni-Jo countdown
Indispensable g-force training

Fans dancing on stage with Santigold and SG1s
Busy stage in Luxembourg
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

Aku, left, Monica, and a cat in Berlin, 2012
Monica entertaining a felid in Berlin

EXPEDITION: Santigold likes to invite fans to dance on stage, but she always warns them not to get close to 'her ladies' unless they want to get hurt. Has it ever occurred that you punched, kicked or "pompommed" a member of the audience?

MONICA: Desiree always does!

DESIREE: [laughs] If they're in my way...

EXPEDITION: Some people claim that everyone has a personal "power animal" that gives them mental strength. Do SG1s have power animals?

DESIREE: Run like the Cheetah Girl!

[Monica laughs]

EXPEDITION: So not the wolves then?

DESIREE: "Dances with the Wolves"…

MONICA: I actually like wolves. And I really like cats – big cats like lions, cheetahs, panthers, jaguars.

DESIREE: I like the wolves too. I think Stephen Colbert just hit it on the head!

MONICA: Yeah, the wolves are great!

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SG1s and the band
SG1s and the band
From left to right: Ray Brady, Desiree Godsell, Ian Longwell,
Monica Josette, Aku

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EXPEDITION: How do you prepare for a show, physically and mentally?

DESIREE: Mentally? Actually, I don't get nervous before shows.

MONICA: I think it's been so long now that we've really embodied the characters to the extent that I don’t even think about it anymore. As soon as the glasses go on…

DESIREE: …it's like second nature. If anything, we might stretch a little bit, depending on where we are; get the body going a little bit.

MONICA: There's no ritual! [laughs]

DESIREE: Well, we do have one band-come-together thing that we do before every show.

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Monica and Desiree quoted on second nature 

Desiree's painted fingernails
 Desiree's fingernails are from Texas, too.

EXPEDITION: Tell us a bit about Desiree and Monica. What do you eat for breakfast?

MONICA: Oatmeal!

I'm terrible with breakfast. I know I need to eat it, but I'm hardly in one place at a time to be able to buy groceries.

EXPEDITION: Do you watch TV – movies, sports?

DESIREE: Well, I'm from Texas. I like football.

MONICA: Me too!

DESIREE: We just finished watching the Game of Thrones series on HBO, which was awesome.

MONICA: We love Game of Thrones! We want to be in it!

[Both chuckle]

EXPEDITION: What roles would you want to play in Game of Thrones?

MONICA: Khaleesi!

DESIREE: No, I'm Khaleesi! [laughs]

MONICA: [laughs] So we are both Khaleesi!

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 We were also watching Breaking Bad. But we two, we have guilty pleasures... and that’s reality television. Two of the main ones are: Love And Hip Hop Atlanta...

[Monica laughs]

DESIREE:'s like ratchet TV - it's terrible!

MONICA: Yeah, it's pretty bad!

DESIREE: And then: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It's a breakout star from this show called Toddlers And Tiaras, where these moms make their children dress up for pageants when they're like six years old. And they spray-tan them, put fake eyelashes on...

MONICA: ...make-up, wigs...

DESIREE: So the breakout star from that, she's really "country", she's got her own show: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It's crazy!

Do you have a favorite cartoon character?

MONICA: Eric Cartman from South Park! He's so good!

DESIREE: Monica freaking loves South Park! I'm not really into cartoons.

EXPEDITION: Do you remember your first music tape?

MONICA: Alberta Hunter Strutters' Ball and Bobby Brown My Prerogative.

I can't think of one off hand but I know my first music concert was Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine.

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SG1 fist-fight
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E 

SG1 with briefcases
Not a 9-to-5 job
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @

EXPEDITION: Do you have a favorite song in Santigold's set?

I'm a Lady, but we don't do it often.

My favorite song in the set that we don't do too often is So Damn Gold. Or the dance encores we do.

EXPEDITION: Do you speak any languages besides English?

I wish! That is something I envy Europeans for. They speak multiple languages. I'm like: English and Spanishhhh… argh!

Same here. We are from Texas, where it's the most common language to learn in school.

It's like French for you guys.

I actually minored in Spanish in college. So yeah, safely we can both say we can communicate in Spanish.

EXPEDITION: Have you played any other characters besides SG1s?

[laughs] I feel like on a daily basis I'm playing different characters in real life. I mean, and then Monica and I watch our share of reality TV, and we impersonate those guys all day!  Yeah, those are real characters! [laughs]
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EXPEDITION: Who do you impersonate from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?

Honey Boo Boo and her Mama!

Mama's so good!

I have played many roles in various shows. Too many to name but I have played Glinda the Good Witch in the Wiz and Velma Kelly from the musical Chicago. And then, I have like twelve personalities, so I'm constantly changing roles!

What's fun about Santi and the show we've helped to create is that it's theatrical. Not like the average musical performance.
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Santigold and SG1s performing
Santigold and SG1s

Desiree quoted on artist life

EXPEDITION: Would Santi agree to SG1s going off and doing their own piece, say, a musical called Houston?

I'm not sure.

I think she would be interested in seeing the life that could come out of that.

EXPEDITION: Touring the world must be demanding. How do you recreate in between shows?

DESIREE: We rest! Now we were out for two weeks. We go home for two days, and then we go back out again. In September we'll have more time to relax. But life as an artist means you continually need to have gigs to maintain a living, so it's on to the next thing. Monica has shows with her other band coming up, and I'll be filming a show. So we're always trying to fill up the schedule to the point where you don't go over.

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Kanye West - New Workout Plan
 Kanye West - The New Workout Plan

Des de la recommends:
Lil Wayne - Tha Block Is Hot
Lil Wayne - Tha Block Is Hot
You will be redirected to YouTube to watch these videos
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EXPEDITION: Let's talk about what you do when you're not on stage with Santigold. Desiree, your dancing career also includes professional Salsa. We imagine that being a Salsa dancer must be quite different from being an SG1.

DESIREE: It's a huge difference!

MONICA: Night and day.

DESIREE: The Salsa world, the Latin dance world in general, is miles away from what I am doing right now – in terms of how I'm dancing, in terms of how I prepare for the shows.

I have a dance partner, Alex Morel. I'm part of the Caribbean Soul Bachata team, and I recently started a new Latin dance repertory company called the Godsell Dance Collective. And rehearsing for that is way more strenuous than what we do here. And then we go and perform different Salsa congresses all over the world.

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There's these weekends where you teach, you learn, you perform, and you social dance with people.

You're also a dance producer...

DESIREE: Yes, I have a mixed media dance concert series I co-produce with my good friend Cornelia McPherson called The Pearl. We concentrate on audience development and present all forms of dance. And every show has a musical component.

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Desiree Godsell and Alex Morel Salsa dancingDesiree Godsell and Alex Morel

Desiree quoted on recognition

EXPEDITION: So obviously you are a full-time dancer...

DESIREE: The fact is, at the end of the day, dance is maybe the least appreciated, most underpaid art form that there is. I always say this: If you told the average person to name five famous dancers that aren’t singers or actors, it's really hard for them.

On top of that, if you were to compare the top five grossing artists of all time in their field... Damien Hirst is making millions of dollars; Brad Pitt is making millions of dollars as an actor; paintings sell for millions of dollars. People are making millions of dollars in all their art fields. Except dancers. So it can be really hard. I guess the thing is that when you go to see dance, you don't really take it home with you.

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EXPEDITION: What you do in the Santigold show involves both dancing and acting, and people do apprehend your performance as kind of a show within the show. Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve when you're on tour with Santigold?

DESIREE: That’s another good point on how it's different from the Salsa world. In the Salsa world I am Desiree and I get direct recognition. But for this, our recognition might go under the radar sometimes. Not to say under the radar 
everybody loves the show, and everybody knows that we are a big part of the show. But it's still Santi's show. So the appreciation might not be so direct, but I think that we do get recognition.

MONICA: And it's growing.

What we are doing now is kind of an "indie" tour, right? Not every average person will know Santigold. But occasionally we do crazy "pop world" things. So we'll open for Rihanna, and everybody will be like: "Oh, you do that!" It's crazy.
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Monica recommends
Anything by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror
Michael Jackson -
Man In The Mirror
You will be redirected to YouTube to watch this video

Moni-Jo singing
Moni-Jo is also a singer.

EXPEDITION: Monica, what do you do when you're not touring with Santigold?

MONICA: When I'm not touring, I'm working on my own project, which I've redefined completely. It's called the Lola Project. I am obviously a dancer, and a singer, and an actress, so all those things come into play when I'm creating my world.

I perform in another band, a show band called Jessie's Girls. They perform all over the U.S., and sometimes they go overseas. There's me and four other female singers on stage. It's kind of a part time thing, you know what I mean? It's not really who I am.

I have an agent, so I also audition for TV film and commercial things. But right now I'm really trying to hone in and focus on the Lola Project, to get it in a place where I can present it to the world. I'm writing a one-woman show, so it's all of the things that are me pulled into one. That’s why I called it the Lola Project, because it's not just the music, it's not just an EP, it's not just a song...

The Lola Project is really gonna embody me as a dancer that is a singer. Before, I felt like I was making music that was... good music, but it didn't really show who I am culturally, as a dancer. It didn’t embody everything. And that's what I want to focus on right now.

I'm also a teacher. I have a pedagogy degree, so I teach dance sometimes. All of those things are under the umbrella of the Lola Project now.
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EXPEDITION: When you were in Berlin with Santigold this summer, you attended a DAW [digital audio workstation] course with the guys from the band. Are you planning on going into seclusion with your laptop and an audio interface once the tour is over..?

MONICA: Um, no, not me, I was just interested in what the boys' world is like on tour.

EXPEDITION: What about you, Desiree, are you interested in home recording?

Not at the moment! [laughs] I recently started a quilting company with my boyfriend called Hill &Velez. And I'm currently working on some painting/collage works for a gallery show I'm in with Tanwi Nandini Islam. But the next projects I'm trying to tackle are Final Cut Pro and mastering Photoshop.
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Cord - 2013 by Kurt Koehler
2013 by Kurt Koehler @


Des de la
Ludacris feat. Lil Flip - Screwed Up
Ludacris feat. Lil Flip
- Screwed Up

Moni-Jo recommends:
Pistol Annies - Hell On Heels
Pistol Annies - Hell On Heels
You will be redirected to YouTube to watch these videos

EXPEDITION: Quilts and collages! - Monica, what will the product of the Lola Project be? What should our psyched readers be looking out for?

MONICA:  A lot of different things. It could be art installations, there could be collaborations. Maybe I'd be someone Desiree would choose to do a collabo with.

DESIREE: Absolutely, Monica, that is in the works!

MONICA: So yeah, it's coming, and it's coming very very soon! I don't want to say too much about it because I want it to speak for itself.

EXPEDITION: We're intrigued! Here's a question Expedition IsThereLifeInEurope feels compelled to ask, for obvious reasons: Have you found any traces of life in Europe?

DESIREE: Traces of life in Europe... what does that mean? There are loads of traces of life!
Of course it's always nice to be able to go home when you're on tour. But when you are away, spending months of your year in Europe, it's nice to find places or moments where you're like: Aah, this feels really good. A couple of highlights: when we were at the Montreux Jazz Festival and we went to this Olympic pool that was right on the lake. Then later that day a friend took us to his house in the Alps.

MONICA: Yeah, that was amazing!
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DESIREE: We were trampolining with mountains! It was crazy! It was really, really nice. Also, going to the beach is always nice. We just came back from Ibiza. I mean, it's kind of sketchy. But Europe has beautiful places. Some not so beautiful... but yeah!

MONICA: I think you can find life everywhere. You have to define what that means for you. I think that inside of any moment you can find something that specifically speaks to you.

EXPEDITION: Could you imagine living in Europe?

DESIREE:  It's been a thought. But then life gets in the way of that. Could we still pursue what we're doing in our careers in Europe? I would love to move to the south of France, the south of Spain, the south of Italy... [both laugh] 
the south, i.e.: where the sun is. But maybe those places are just for a vacation house.

I thought about moving to Berlin. It is really cheap, and loads of artists are flocking there. It seems to be a place where people can really create and explore. But it's cold and dark and rainy, so I don’t know if that's for me. But yeah, I think it's what you make it. I feel comfortable in a lot of the places that I go. That's just me as a person, so it's easy for me to find things that can fill me with that energy, or with… life.
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Moni-Jo recommends:
Cesária Évora - Besame mucho
Cesária Évora - Besame mucho

Des de la recommends:
Anything by Sade
Sade - By Your Side
Sade - By Your Side
You will be redirected to YouTube to watch these videos

Desiree Godsell, 7 years old
Young Ms. Godsell

EXPEDITION: Can you tell us a bit about life in Houston? What are the Houstonites like?


EXPEDITION: Our apologies...

DESIREE: First of all, Texas is a whole beast itself, like another world. It once was its own country. I think that because we're in the South, Houston does have a charm to it.

MONICA:  It's a big international port city. There are many different communities living in Houston. And then, Houston is really big on the fine arts: You want opera, ballet, straight theater? You can get it all day long in Houston.

When we were growing up – I don’t know the school system now – even in primary school you got art in lots of formats. So lots of us played instruments as well as did other things. Houston was really great for me. I can't speak for any other city, but I got so much arts education inside the parameters of my academic school studies.
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EXPEDITION: Do you play any music instruments?

DESIREE:  No, I'm like: [claps her hands]

MONICA: I played the flute for a really long time. I played several instruments, but in terms of mastering an instrument, it was the flute. I played in Band and outside of Band, and for competitions. I finally gave it up when I had to choose in high school. You couldn't have a double art area. So I went with the dance instead of the music.

EXPEDITION: Judging from what you were saying, it's not a coincidence that a lot of artists come from Houston...

MONICA: What is interesting is that Houston really cultivates a lot of artists, but if you aren't necessarily an opera singer, or just a ballet dancer, or just a straight theater person, once you come out of the schooling situation, there's nothing else for you to do. So then lots of us leave. There is this huge migration to New York and other places. So Houston cultivates its great artists, but it can't support them.

EXPEDITION: That is exactly what happened to you, isn't it? Desiree, you now live in Brooklyn...


EXPEDITION: ...and Monica, you now live in Atlanta.

MONICA: Atlanta now, but I lived in New York for six years.
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Young Monica Josette
Young Ms. Josette (front), with her sister Felicia

Monica quoted on Houston

Monica and Desiree with Minnie Mouse ears
Minnie Mice

EXPEDITION: Now for something completely different: What makes you laugh?

MONICA: Desiree!

Yeah, Monica makes me laugh! I think I laugh at awkward things, or silly things. I laugh at… anything really.

MONICA: Desiree is quite emotive. And she's full of expression when she thinks something is funny. Sometimes she lays out on the floor instantaneously!

DESIREE: I think it's when people are really themselves to the core.

MONICA: Desiree laughs at me all the time.

EXPEDITION: Do you do a lot of funny stuff, Monica?

MONICA: I don't know! Apparently...

When situations are just a little bit awkward, it's hilarious to me! But, um, what else do we laugh at? Here comes Honey Boo Boo!
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EXPEDITION: How does it feel to go separate ways after having toured the world together for such a long time?

MONICA: I'm never separate from Desiree! [laughs] She is my sister.

EXPEDITION: Meaning you guys are on the phone all the time? You're not exactly neighbors...

MONICA: [laughs] Not all the time, but frequently, and we have known each other now for more than ten years so we don't have to talk every day.

DESIREE: Yes, Monica is my sister. I can't get rid of her even if I wanted to! [laughs]

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Monica and Desiree are like sisters


"Anything down home blues genre"

Mance Lipscomb - Texas Blues
Mance Lipscomb - Texas Blues
You will be redirected to YouTube to watch this video

Des de la:

"When I hear anything Zydeco, I wanna go home"

Sesame Street - It's Zydeco
Sesame Street - It's Zydeco
You will be redirected to YouTube to watch this video
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SG1s in Zurich, August 2012
2012 by Expedition I:T:L:I:E @
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And then it was 2013
Since their return to the U.S. in September 2012, Monica Josette and Desiree Godsell have not had much time to watch reality TV. Here are just some of the things they've been up to.

SG1 Dancers without glasses!
Santigold - Girls
Premiered January 14, 2013 on Youtube:
Santigold - Girls
You will be redirected to Youtube to watch this video
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Monica Josette

Monica's Lola Project became a source of inspiration for a brand-new collaboration with fellow performers Africa Miranda and Megan Tiffani. Monica has since channeled her creativity into writing and directing a three-woman live show combining theater, music and dance. The trio hit the stage in Atlanta on January 16, 2013 as The Lipstick Junkies featuring Black Caviar and the Ray of Sunshine, backed by the Good Times Brass Band.

The Lipstick Lounge cabaret will feature a new theme every month. Don't miss the next show, The Emerald Evolution, on March 14, 2013,
and look forward to new shows in May, June..!

Lipstick Junkies premiere January 16, 2013
The Lipstick Junkies

The Lipstick Junkies introduce themselves
Excerpts from the premiere!
You will be redirected to Youtube to watch this video

Watch a recap of the
January and February shows!

Desiree Godsell

Desiree taped an episode for MTV MADE. This is already her second appearance in the popular show, in which she coaches girls that want to learn how to dance Salsa.

In late September 2012,
Lee Fields And The Expressions released the official music video of the track Faithful Man, in which Desiree plays the lead character.

Lee Fields And The Expressions - Faithful Man
Lee Fields And The Expressions
- Faithful Man

You will be redirected to Youtube to watch this video

When Desiree is not performing Salsa with dance partner Alex Morel or with her dance collectives
, she is busy quilting and producing her dance concert for The Pearl series in downtown Brooklyn. Don't miss the next performance on April 6, 2013, and watch out for more to come!

The Pearl, Brooklyn
The Pearl dance concert series!
You will be redirected to the homepage of The Pearl to watch this video

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