The young man from Bahia was first introduced in his early twenties, when he was discovered by Brazilian super-heavyweights Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. After playing on both Gil's resurgent Acoustic and Veloso's controversial Tropicalia 2 in 1994, he was invited to join them on a tour of Europe. In the coming years, his knowledge of non-Brazilian culture expanded incrementally. When he returned, he would work alongside Chico Science, another adventurous group of radical Brazilians, and spend time in the studio recording other artists' projects, including Arto Lindsay. But he was merely biding his time, waiting until he would get his own turn in the spotlight.
This came at the turn of the century, when he released his debut LP, Eletro Ben Dodo, into the outstretched arms of a doting international critical press. Stepping out of the shadow of Gil and Veloso, he proved that traditional Brazilian Tropicalia could be tweaked to fit within an international pop context. Borrowing from the wares of everyone from James Brown to Caetano and Gil, Santtana brewed a sonic amalgam that was both astonishingly varied yet pleasingly unified.