Faculty & Staff Profiles

Erik Santos

Director Electronic Music Studio, Associate Professor of Composition and Performing Arts & Technology

Erik Santos is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer who is active in many musical genres, from rock to classical, from electronic to world music, and in music for theater and dance.

Santos has received commissions, prizes, fellowships, and other recognition for his concert music, including the Charles Ives Scholarship and the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as awards from Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), the MacDowell Colony, the Bozeman Symphony, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Rackham Graduate School of U-M, and the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA).

In recent years, Santos has become increasingly preoccupied with presenting music in venues other than the classical concert hall  – dance clubs, street corners, radio, theaters, churches, car stereos, movies, internet, iPods, etc. – where there is more emphasis given to the interaction of music with other spontaneous sensory elements, involving listeners at the hub of an experience. This interest flourished in 2002 when he was invited to join the pioneering and internationally celebrated Japanese butoh company Dairakudakan: Temputenshiki (avant-garde dance/theater), as a resident composer – a collaboration which continues to this day.

In 2005, Santos and artist/singer Toko Shiiki formed an upbeat band called October Babies, which has performed a large variety of original multi-cultural and multi-lingual dance songs in America and Japan. They are affiliated with the local Ann Arbor music label Oddfellow Music. Having completed 4 albums, along with music videos and documentaries with October Babies, Santos and Shiiki became interested in filmmaking, and this led to the full-length movie Threshold: Whispers of Fukushima. This project focuses on the lives of several musicians who have continued to live in Fukushima, Japan, despite the devastation of earthquake and tsunami, and the threat of the failing nuclear reactor.

Santos has been a central force in the development of the local music scene, hosting several long-standing open-mic stages in the area. These days, he’s become increasingly devoted to the daily practice of his guitars and basses, improving his learning habits and improvisation skills, memorizing poetry, and the television series Breaking Bad.


BM (voice), Indiana University of Pennsylvania
MM, DMA (composition), University of Michigan

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