Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Dante Matas, who discusses his new Midnight Sun EP, detailing its creative process, influences and goals.
About the EP:
Midnight Sun is about conflicts and resolutions between people. It’s about fully embracing one side of human emotion while trying to understand it’s opposite from that perspective. In other words, the songs that sound hopeless come from a place that’s hopeful and vice versa.
Review Fix: How did you get started in music?
Dante Matas: I started learning piano when I was around 7. I had only ever heard classical music until I was 12 and I would write these little instrumental songs without really any knowledge of how music worked. It was a lot of fun. I picked up the guitar when I was 12 and starting writing songs with chords and lyrics that were more influenced by rock and pop music from a bunch of different eras (mostly 60s, 70s, 90s, but I’ve grown to love them all). That was also a lot of fun.
Review Fix: What makes you unique?
Matas: I think I try really hard to not be unique in any way just to be different and maybe it works. But for a more real answer: I have no idea. I play a lot of instruments and spend years writing songs and recording them over and over to get them right. I think a lot of people do that though so I’m really just copying them. Sometimes songwriters avoid complexity for fear that it might confuse the listener. I definitely do not do that. In my mind, things can be catchy and can come across as simple even if in reality there is a lot going on. Sometimes that makes songs special. Maybe that makes me unique? I have no clue.
Review Fix: What groups inspire you?
Matas: I like Radiohead, The Beatles, Fleet Foxes, Prince, The Magnetic Fields, Tame Impala, Abba, Elliott Smith, Judee Sill, Simon and Garfunkel, Wilco, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Debussy. I mean, this list could go on forever actually.
For lyrics, in particular, I like Leonard Cohen, Fiona Apple, Tom Waits, and Bob Dylan.
Review Fix: What makes this EP special?
Matas: It’s a collection of songs that were all written at completely different times but they somehow all fit together. The oldest song is something I had been working on for almost 5 years and the most recent song was written and recorded about a month before I sent it into mastering! I guess that means the EP covers a lot of changes in my life and the world around me. Each song says a little bit about a lot of different things. It’s also special to me in particular just because it’s the first time ever that I am relatively satisfied with how the recordings do justice to the songs!
Review Fix: How was the standout song in the EP written?
Matas: The song “Midnight Sun” was written in one day, which is very rare for me. Well, everything except the title. It was meant to reflect on a moment in an imagined future where you are reminiscing about the past. It was going to be called “Future Nostalgia” but I was walking home one day and I saw band posters all over this wall with that exact title (I think it was for The Sheepdogs?). So I scrapped that idea and left it for a while. Then one day I was randomly listening to Louis Prima and in this one song he just starts speak-singing and he says something about hanging a bucket of goldfish legs on a skyhook in the midnight sun. I thought that was so cool and it made me realize that a midnight sun is a real thing and that it somehow perfectly encapsulated what I was already saying in the song. So I changed the title. That’s literally how it happened.
Review Fix: What was it like to work with Igor Vrabac?
Matas: Igor was great, he primarily does film scores and is classically trained so he really understands the drama of music and helps bring that out in my songs. I basically brought him what I thought were the finished songs but we ended up remixing them together and taking out a bunch of unnecessary parts. He really helped me learn how to not overthink things too much with recordings, and also to commit to the decisions you make.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Matas: Right now I am playing live more often than I ever have, and I’m putting together a band to play the new material I have been working on. My plan is to finish recording an entire LP by the end of the summer. It’s a bit ambitious considering it took me a year and a half to finish Midnight Sun and that’s only 5 songs, but for some reason I think it’s going to happen. The new stuff is very different, but it’ll still sound like me. I’m really excited about it!
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Matas: Pretty much looking to book some tours, record some music, make some music videos, maybe learn how to scuba dive, and conquer any debilitating self-doubt that might get in the way. I’m sure it will all work out!