Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter/guitarist Dante Matas, who discusses his goals and new single, “Talking to Yourself.”
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Dante Matas: I started playing piano when I was about 7 and never looked back. I just wrote little instrumental piano pieces until I learned guitar at around 12 and began writing full songs.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Matas: It’s like I’m solving a puzzle that has thousands of correct answers. When things are flowing, I don’t think about what I’m doing at all, I just act. When things are not flowing, I think really hard about what I’m trying to do up to the point where I lose all objectivity and completely forget the significance of the song I’m writing. At that point, I try to stop thinking about it and go for a walk or do the dishes and let myself daydream. Sometimes, if I really did allow myself to stop thinking about the song, a random idea will pop into my head out of nowhere and it will be the exact puzzle piece I was looking for in order to get back into the flow. Then I repeat the whole process until somehow a song is finished.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Matas: I think I could be inspired by almost anything; I just have to look at it from the right angle. Inspiration has always been sort of easy for me to find. I struggle more with executing an idea before I’ve worked on it so long that it drives me crazy. I think that’s a common issue in music today where we have access to so many plugins and pedals and sounds that making final decisions can sometimes seem impossible. Remembering what inspired the song in the first place has always been the way out of that for me.
Review Fix: What makes this single special?
Matas: It’s actually a very old song, I think I started writing the melody and chords on a family vacation to Croatia when I was 15. When I went on tour last year with my band I felt we needed a new song to play and I remembered this song and wrote some lyrics and suddenly it was done.
For the recording, I had my friends and family send me clips of themselves reading really cliche motivational quotes and used them to create a chaotic collage of unprecedented optimism that appears midway through the song. Even though the quotes are so positive, the disorienting blend of the voices talking over each other makes the collage sound more like a mass miscommunication.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Matas: It is melodically focused music with complex but hopefully honest lyrics. I try to write catchy songs but I also like to experiment and throw in some weird moments. I’ve taken things that I like about music from every era and tried to make them my own. I really like to have a kind of narrative throughout the lyrics because I’ve always liked that in the music I grew up listening to. Sometimes the narrative is left intentionally ambiguous and abstract though. I also tend to throw in an excessive amount of chord changes for whatever reason.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Matas: Currently my live show is very different as I play with a fantastic 5-piece band and they really help me take the songs to another level. That band is Omar Shabbar on the guitar, Nathaniel Edgar on keys and synth, Joseph Landau on bass, and Colin McNally on drums. We usually change the arrangements of the recorded versions of the songs quite a bit, often blending several songs together. I’ve always liked when bands sounds totally different live so we’re just embracing that mentality to the fullest.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the rest of 2019?
Matas: I’m filming some professionally shot full-band live videos with the band at The Root Down studio in Toronto over the next few weeks. Those should be out later this year. We also have a whole bunch of gigs lined up over the next few months that I’m excited about. If I suddenly become extremely productive, I might even release a new EP before the year is out.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Matas: I’m always working on new music and I hope to release some of it by the end of the year. More gigs, more touring. The usual.