I am kicking off this week by speaking…
with Dante Matas about his latest track, Everything Nearly Fell Apart Completely. He talks about his upcoming album, A Colourful Headache (out on 4th May), and the themes that inspired it; when music came into his life; who he ranks as influences – I ask whether the songwriter has any gigs booked in.
The Canadian reveals whether he is coming to the U.K.; I ask which three albums mean the most to Matas; how he spends his free spaces away from music; whether there are any special memories from his time in music – he recommends a new artist that is worth some affection and appreciation.
Hi, Dante. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m doing well, thanks! My week has so far consisted of teaching, practicing for our upcoming show at In the Soil festival in St. Catharines, Ontario and prepping for our tour next month!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Dante Matas. I make music across genres like Psychedelic-Rock, Synth-Pop, and Indie-Folk. I’ve been playing and recording music for over a decade now - and writing songs for even longer. I’ve recently started playing music with a full band and we go by the name ‘Dante Matas and the Infernal Racket’. I play synth, acoustic guitar and sing in the band. The other members are my good friends Colin McNally (Drums), Omar Shabbar (Guitar) and Joseph Landau (Bass).
Everything Nearly Fell Apart Completely is your new single. Can you talk about its origin and creation?
I came up with the main chorus melody for Everything Nearly Fell Apart Completely, probably, five years ago. That might seem crazy, but it’s true - I have the iPhone memos to prove it. This was one of those songs that I didn’t rush at all (obviously) and, instead, let happen naturally. I don’t always do that: sometimes, songs happen very quickly.
Over the next few years, I would get a new idea for another part or a lyric and add it to the song. Last summer, I decided to record everything I had come up with and ended up with a song almost seven minutes long (!). After some crazy editing, I ended up with the single as it exists today.
I actually played that seven-minute version of the song with a huge band live at Dundas Square in Toronto last summer. It was tons of fun!
Will there be more material coming later down the line?
On May 4th, I will be releasing my new album, A Colourful Headache, of which the single, Everything Nearly Fell Apart Completely, is a part of. This is really my first official full-length, so I’m super-excited to get it out there. It has lots of vocal melodies weaving around each other; some laser beam synth hooks, lo-fi punchy drums; effected electric guitar and lots of distorted bass slides. It’s quite different to my last E.P., which was a very straight-ahead Indie-Folk record.
Beyond that, I am already writing music for the next record and I can’t wait to start work on it once I get back from tour!
Can you remember when music came into your life? Was there a single moment where you decided to pursue music and do it as a career?
Music came into my life when I was maybe six-years-old and I first acknowledged what a melody was. The melody, in particular, was Ode to Joy and it was the most beautiful thing my six-year-old mind thought was possible. So; I was hooked after that.
Once I started playing the guitar in my early-teens; I noticed that writing music was the most rewarding thing I could do and I basically decided to dedicate my life to it. Of course, it’s, obviously, not that simple and there is much more to being a professional musician! I figured I’d have to learn the rest along the way.
I’m still doing that now - and I’m loving every second of it.
Which musicians did you grow up around? Who do you count as idols?
No one in my family really played music, so the only musicians I grew up around were my music teachers and my friends. I went to an arts high-school and, during breaks, my friends and I would sneak into the practice rooms and write music. I say ‘sneak’, because was in the visual art program at the school - so, I probably wasn’t supposed to be there.
My idols would have to be the musicians I looked up to when I was growing up, namely The Beatles, Radiohead and Leonard Cohen.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
We leave for the main leg of the tour in mid-May. We’ll be hitting up places like Halifax, Charlottetown; Montreal, Ottawa and so many more. We’ll also be joined by our friend and Folk artist, Mike Legere, who also helped engineer A Colourful Headache.
We will also be having a big hometown release show at Burdock, in Toronto, on June 21st!
Will we see you come over to the U.K.?
Definitely. Our next tour will see us going international and we would love to come to the U.K. It’s something we are going to work towards for 2019.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I hope to get A Colourful Headache to all the people that would enjoy hearing it. I hope to keep playing bigger shows and to continue learning about music and the music industry. I hope to finish recording a new collection of songs by the end of the year so we can put out another release in early-2019.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
There are so many, but I think making my first E.P. back in high-school was a really memorable experience...
My bandmates and I had no idea what we were doing but, at least for me, it made me fall in love with recording. I had been messing around with GarageBand on my computer before then, but going into an actual studio made me look at music from a producer’s perspective for the first time.
If you could select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Radiohead - Ok Computer
I know everyone likes this record, but it was one of the first records I bought as a kid. The first time I listened to it was on a cold Toronto winter day and I wrapped myself in a bunch of blankets and read the lyric booklet along with it. Definitely a very meaningful record to me.
Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz
I love this record because of how complicated the emotions are. A lot of artists tend to write sad music and really explore the depth of that. So many Pop songs are about heartbreak that, sometimes, we can forget that all emotions are equally complex. On Age of Adz; Sufjan goes all over the place and it’s really something special.
The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
This record is (so) unique. It has sixty-nine songs and every single one is a perfectly-crafted Pop song. There are beautiful melodies all over the place and, frankly, hilarious lyrics in every track.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
On creativity: songs and hooks are not the same thing. Songs tell stories; hooks get stuck in people’s heads. If you have only hooks then your music will be catchy but feel empty. If you don’t have any hooks then no one will sing along. Also; don’t listen to other people (like me): just make up your own rules over time through trial and error.
On getting your music heard: just keep going, but always believe in the music you’re putting out. If you do that and you’re honest with yourself about how good it is, you’ll only ever get better and people will eventually respond to it.
IN THIS PHOTO: Natalie Prass
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I recently got into Natalie Prass; especially her single, Short Court Style. I love the groove of the bass and guitar - and the chorus is super-catchy. The music video makes me dizzy, though. I’d love to see her live!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Between work and booking tours, recording; writing and playing live, I don’t do much else. I like going out with my friends now and then as well as seeing live music. I’m excited to see Paul Simon, Radiohead and The Magnetic Fields all in the next few months!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I’ve got to go with that Natalie Prass song - it’s just too good.
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