We’re not only introducing you to a new artist today but also likely a genre of music you’ve never before encountered. Enter La Dante, the silky smooth leader of the “synth & soul” movement. Conventional classifications just don’t suit La Dante; he’s far too complex of a musician for that. That’s why he’s come up with synth & soul as the proper descriptor for what his music is all about, a combination of 1970s funk and 1980s new wave textures. That’s about the best way of putting it, but even that is far too simplistic of an explanation. There’s a psychedelic element to his songwriting, as well as a strong singer-songwriter component.
Take new single “2 Skeletons” for example. It’s a psychedelic union of funk and new wave that serves as the perfect continuation and expansion of the sound he introduced on his April released single “Bloodstone Limousine.” It’s also the fourth single released from La Dante through Eraserhood Sound, a record label that was started by former Lee Fields & The Expressions guitarist and songwriter Vincent John. Each song has been effective at building the structure of synth & soul, with future singles destined to only add to this foundation.
The man who stands behind La Dante is Philadelphia musician Maxwell Perla, who released his first single “Mexico Sunrise” barely two years ago. Perla’s music feeds off of his charming and sophisticated originality, built on his affinity for 1980s synthesizers. More than just a singer or songwriter, Perla is extraordinary within the confines of the recording studio and can also pound away on a set of drums like the greats of rock n’ roll.
We spoke to Perla to learn more about “2 Skeletons,” La Dante, his musical origins, and what he has in store for this project in the near future.
What inspired “2 Skeletons?”
Maxwell Perla: “‘2 Skeletons’ is the story of two lovers trying to make their way through a chaotic, tumultuous world. Throughout the song, I try to explain to my partner that if we can make it through this lifetime together, we can spend eternity in each other’s arms, and life will be grand and we won’t have to worry. Skeletons are used as a metaphor to describe the feeling that so many of us have, the feeling like we are barely able to hold ourselves together sometimes, like everything can come crashing down at any moment.”
What drew you to the signature “synth and soul” sound?
“I have been a drummer my whole life, and I have long been fascinated with the funky rhythm sections of Stax, Muscle Shoals and Motown. I also love the melancholy associated with soul music from the ‘60s and ‘70s; the chords paint such emotional portraits. I also happen to love synth-driven music, from synth funk to new wave. To me, lush waves of keyboard pair perfectly with soul music. ‘Synth & soul’ is the ideal sonic backdrop to my particular style of narrative songwriting.”
What can we expect from La Dante in the coming years?
“You can expect to see a 7’ vinyl pressed and released this summer featuring ‘2 Skeletons’ and another single of mine, ‘Bloodstone Limousine.’ The rest of 2020 will see more singles released via Eraserhood Sound. In 2021 I hope to have a full-length record out in the world for people to enjoy.”
What is it like to be a part of the Eraserhood Sound Family?
“Being a part of Eraserhood Sound is like a dream come true. It is the perfect place to make exactly the kind of music that I love, and I wouldn’t want work with anyone else.”
What artists do you draw inspiration from?
“The artist who inspired me to begin this project is Gram Parsons. I could listen to him sing songs of sadness and heartbreak all day and never tire of it. Marvin Gaye is a very different kind of singer, but he probably has the most pristine voice in soul music history. Finally, Prince is probably my biggest idol in terms of songwriting and artistry. He was so unique, so groundbreaking, and always stayed true to his own vision, even when no one else understood.”
How did you first get into music and songwriting?
“Both of my parents were professional musicians, so music was always around when I was growing up. My father was a drummer (as well as a keyboardist), so I began playing drums at age eight. I started my first band when I was 13, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. When I started La Dante, it was a chance for me to write and express myself in a new and exciting way, and it allowed my songwriting to flourish and grow in new and exciting ways.”
What advice would you give aspiring artists in these times?
“Don’t ever compromise your art to satisfy other people’s expectations. Be original. Be fearless. This is the only way for an artist to achieve inner happiness. Create something new and different and sincere and people will take notice.”