Introducing | Dante Matas

It was a scene in a movie that sparked Dante’s passion for music.

Watching Amadeus as a young boy, the intrigue around music, albeit in a child-like mischievous way, he soon discovered he had a passion and talent for writing songs.

Taking influence from artists ranging from Fleet Foxes to Sufjan Stevens, Dante recently released his new EP ‘Midnight’ Sun’.

To find out more about his career to-date and his recent EP release, we caught up with Dante to allow him to introduce his music to you.

Can you tell us how you first discovered your love for creating music?

There was a scene in the movie Amadeus where Mozart plays the piano upside down with his hands crossed. When I saw that as an 8-year-old kid I thought that was the coolest thing and I wanted to learn how to do it. I quickly realised I first needed to know how to play something normally before I could play it upside down so I started writing little instrumental piano songs and slowly discovered that I loved writing them. I’m pretty sure that’s the whole reason I started writing music at all!

Which bands/artists have influenced your music the most to-date?

I have a lot of influences, but on the ‘Midnight Sun’ EP in particular I tried to keep things sparse and that was heavily influenced by artists like Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens (thinking of ‘Seven Swans’ in particular), Simon and Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes, The Tallest Man On Earth, Judee Sill, and Leonard Cohen. So yeah, a lot of stripped down acoustic music. Who would’ve thought?

Are there any UK artists in particular that you inspire to?

I mean, so many! My two favourite bands are Radiohead and The Beatles for starters. Also, can’t forget about Portishead and Nick Drake. I like tons of 60’s British Invasion stuff like The Kinks, The Zombies, The Rolling Stones, The Hollies. I’m actually the sub-in George Harrison of British Invasion tribute band here in Toronto…As for more modern UK artists, I like what Keaton Henson is doing, as well as James Blake and Fionn Regan.

For those who have yet to discover your music, how would you describe your signature sound

I think that for this EP, it could be described as lyric-centric. The arrangements are focused on letting the words take center stage. The words were written over long periods of time and come from analysis and stream-of-consciousness so there is a lot to take in and I didn’t want to distract from them. Certainly the EP has a lot of melodic fingerpicking, piano and background vocals, but the goal was to use those elements to bring out more of the story in each song. If there’s a signature sound somewhere in what I just said, it would probably be: very dense-abstract lyrics with non-intrusive but oddly complicated music supporting them.

You recently released your new EP ‘Midnight Sun’, which track from the release should new listeners check out first?

‘Every Other Conversation’ is the single and it is the most upbeat and immediate song I think. It’s really melodic and has some cool background vocals sung by me and my friend Kathryn Kearns. Lyrically, it’s supposed to be a conversation between two people where neither person is really listening to the other but act like they know what’s best for them. Even though it might seem like the most straightforward song on the EP, it actually took me the longest to write. I think it was at least 3 years but possibly longer! That might seem crazy but it’s true, so yeah, check that one out first!

During your EP recording process, you decided to change your tracks and opt for an acoustic feel, can you tell us about the EPs evolution to release?

When I started to record the EP I had just finished grad school where I took a year off from music and I think I forgot how to do everything so what I had initially planned was probably too ambitious given that I was out of practice. I wanted to make a full-length with songs that had complex arrangements and a much wider variety of instruments, but I decided to scrap that for later (I’m making it now!). A few songs did come from those sessions that I’m going to release later this year, but mostly I just realised I had to start small and work up from there. I told myself if I had to make a small amount of things sound good together before a large amount of things.

Somewhere in the middle of working on the EP, I suddenly had access to a nice little studio in downtown Toronto called Noisetree Digital, owned by my friend Garnet Willis. A few of the tracks have guitar parts recorded in my bedroom with cheap microphones and some have guitars parts recorded in that studio with expensive microphones. Some have both. Having access to Noisetree was amazing because it allowed me to focus on making the stripped down arrangements work since I could record the actual parts a lot better.

In late 2016, I was working on a non-EP song with producer Igor Vrabac, head of Akashic Rekords. He said he wanted to mix the songs I had done on my own so we mixed the songs together over the next few months and took out even more unnecessary parts and that became ‘Midnight Sun’ EP as it exists today! That’s the whole evolution of it.

If you could tour the UK with any other artist/band, who would it be and why?

I would love to go on tour with Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, or The Tallest Man On Earth. I really admire their music and I’ve seen them all live and they put an amazing shows. I think it would be an incredible experience to support any musicians whose music directly influenced my own. And, of course, the ultimate dream is to open for Radiohead…but could that ever really happen?

Do you have any plans to tour overseas?

Currently, I have no concrete plans but it is something I’m working towards. I think I’d like to incorporate a full band on tour to play fleshed out versions of the songs from ‘Midnight Sun’ EP and also the new ones I’m recording now. Putting that band together as I write this!

If you could have one aim for your music by the end 2017, what would this be?

Hard to pick just one thing, but I guess I would like to finish up my next batch of recordings, put out an LP and then go tour it around with a full band. I definitely enjoy playing solo because of how intimate it can be, but something about playing with a band has always been the most fun to me. The songs I tend to write lend themselves better to bigger arrangements anyway. Things are pretty much on track for all of that to happen as far as I can tell! As excited as I am about ‘Midnight Sun’ EP I’m even more excited about what’s coming up next so I’ve got all my attention focused on the future!

Anything else you wish to add?

I’ll be releasing a few extra songs from the Midnight Sun sessions in the next little while. They are a bit different than the EP stuff but I really like how they turned out. Stay tuned for those in the upcoming months!

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You can watch the lyric video for ‘Midnight Sun’ below:

Post Author: Claire White

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