Inspired by his father, a drummer, and mother, a jazz vocalist, Santiago began studying piano at the age of 5. Upon graduating high school, he was selected by the great Dave Brubeck and a panel of judges to study music at the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, CA - where he studied with some of the greatest musicians in the world such as Christian McBride, Robert Glasper, Nicholas Payton and Joshua Redman. Then in 2009 he attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan, where he studied with jazz greats like Reggie Workman, George Cables, Billy Harper and Jane Ira Bloom. Outside of his college studies, Santiago also was selected to participate in the 14th Annual Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program in 2011, and was a finalist in the 2015 American Jazz Pianist Competition. After releasing several beat tapes showcasing his music production skills, Santiago independently released his 5-song debut EP of all original compositions, Year of the Horse in 2015. This release marked the end of his 5-year stay in NYC, where he performed regularly at venues like Smalls Jazz Club and 55 Bar.
In 2016, upon moving back to his hometown of Minneapolis, MN, Santiago became a recipient of the 2016 McKnight Fellowship for Musicians. He returned to the studio to record his debut LP of all original compositions entitled Phoenix (2018 Ropeadope Records) with a sextet including his former east coast trio consisting of drummer Corey Fonville and bassist Zach Brown - as well as saxophonists Dayna Stephens and Ben Flocks and guitarist Nir Felder. It features guests such as trumpeter Nicholas Payton, John Raymond and vocalist J. Hoard.
Santiago is based in the Bay Area, CA, where he performs and composes regularly and is also an accomplished educator, arranger and producer.