Joey Santiago goes digital

Spitfire Audio Joey Santiago
Spitfire Audio Joey Santiago

Spitfire Audio Joey Santiago: “It’s not your usual instruments…”

The Pixies’ innovative lead guitarist gets the Spitfire Audio treatment with a namesake Signature sample library of mutated Santiago sounds

Virtual instruments developer, Spitfire Audio announces availability of Joey Santiago — distinctive, distorted sounds of innovative Filipino-American guitarist and prolific composer, famed for playing lead guitar with American alt-rockers The Pixies. Joey Santiago becomes the latest addition to the company’s Signature range of sample-based virtual instruments for Native Instruments’ Kontakt platform, following previous artists such as Leo Abrahams on Enigma and Enigma 2, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith and Queen’s Roger Taylor on The Grange, as well as Jason Bonham on HZ2 Hans Zimmer Percussion Los Angeles.

Spitfire Audio met Joey Santiago and decamped together to a small studio space in East LA. To capture the results, six amps and the guitarist’s pedalboard were rigged up via a selection of valve and ribbon mics, arriving at a vintage Neve console. The brief was not necessarily to define a ‘virtual guitar’, but rather to create an environment where Santiago’s arsenal of sounds could flow. Joey Santiago is not a virtual instrument exactly, though it does feature some multi-sampled guitars, so it is best described as a collection of playable sounds.

“Sample libraries are — to me — just a palette of sounds, but this one I was pretty serious about, because I wanted it to be useful,” says Santiago. “It’s not your usual instruments — well, it’s a guitar, but it imitates a celeste, and all that stuff. And you’ve got guitars, too. There’s some cool pads — you need pads and little plucks, and my guitar through the amps I use.”

Spitfire Audio’s ‘due diligence’ meant that these recordings ended up being re-amped back at London-based studio The Pool, packed with vintage equipment and a live room designed to offer a range of acoustics. Afterwards, this raw material was taken to Spitfire Audio co-founder and composer Christian Henson’s new ‘warp room’ in Scotland for further treatments.

The result is six different signals with different mics and mixes — four amplified, including Santiago’s own Marshall JCM800, Fender Vibrolux, and a Selmar, plus two room perspectives for starters. There are several categories of presets and articulations: Individual Plucks, Santiago Sounds, Gigantic Mutations and Radiant Pads – producing 150 sounds curated into 125 presets with an eDNA engine-driven metallic edge.

Spitfire Audio’s Joey Santiago can be purchased and digitally downloaded as a recommended retail price of £199. Note that the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt 5 is required to run Joey Santiago, while Spitfire Audio’s free Download Manager application for Mac or PC allows anyone to buy and download. Watch Joey Santiago himself introduce his new namesake sample-based virtual instrument library below and, for more in-depth information and audio demos, visit:

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