Interview Lucien Dante | Starlight Music Chronicles March 2017 Artist of the Month
By Candice Anne Marshall
It always amazes me how fast the month flies by and I am here posting yet another Indie Artist interview. What amazes me even more is the rapid pace at which our SMC Artist of the Month (AOM) competitions are catching on globally. The last two events have resulted in online fan votes at 1112 (SMITHRADIO) and 1129 respectively and are our highest Facebook votes to date! With our First Artist of the Year winner Olivia Penalva headed to Los Angeles to the March ArtistMax event for her VIP scholarship (part of our Artist of the Year win), its imminent that word will spread even more rapidly than before. In the coming week, we will be making a special announcement regarding ArtistMax and our Artist of the Month past, present, and future Competitors! Stay Tuned!
Now, It is with absolute pleasure that I welcome in our newest Indie Artist Lucien Dante to the SMC Artist of the Month alumni. I connected in the last couple days with Lucien to talk about his music, AOM win (with the highest votes ever recorded!), and what’s coming up on the radar. Here is what he had to say:
SMC – Hello Lucien! Welcome to Starlight Music Chronicles! We would like to welcome you to the SMC Artist of the Month Alumni as our OFFICIAL SMC March 2017 AOM Winner! Not only are you a part of the SMC family now, you are also the top fan voted Artist in our monthly competitions! When did you first learn that you had won?
LD – Hello SMC and SMC readers! Thank you for this exciting interview! It’s like an extensive welcoming card to the SMC family! In all honesty, I wasn’t aware that the fan voting process was composed of 50% fan votes and 50% judge votes, so when I won the fan votes I thought I had won AOM! I immediately made an instavideo post of my triumph only to find out that the judges still had to vote ha-ha! Luckily, they chose me because that would have been embarrassing! Thank you Judges!
SMC – What was your reaction?
LD – I was so excited! It meant so much to me for two reasons. The first being because of the fan votes. I did not expect so many people to vote for me! It showed me that all the work my label and I have put into my career is paying pay off, and that means something so beautiful and indescribable to me. Secondly, the fact that the judges found me and chose me is something I will wear as a badge of honor 😀
SMC – There are so many things I would love to ask you! I must tell you that your music really resonates with me Lucien. It’s very positive and heart-centered. You remain unique and grounded in everything. I really admire that. Where would you say your positivity derives from?
LD – Thank you for your enthusiasm! It’s encouraging and heart-centered! I think my positivity comes mostly from my mother. She is the most incredible woman I’ve ever known and she has always loved me and shown me that love is life and life is creation. She’s also extremely intelligent, wise and has very high standards, and all those things have resulted in me having a natural magnetic pull to light and positivity. That’s a difficult question!
SMC – I interviewed you for Indie Music Monday (IMM) recently and I have to thank Walter Hargrave for the introduction. He is very good at spotting great talent! Now you are also a part of the SMC family. What are your thoughts on networking like this?
LD – I have to thank Walter as well! It’s been nothing but a positive experience for me! I love networking in this way, especially when it’s based around interviews and other creative things. It’s a great opportunity to connect with potential Lights and share things about my craft and self that otherwise might not be shared. To be able to do that with such a lovely supportive community like SMC is really quite touching and satiating for the heart.
SMC – I don’t think I asked in the IMM interview – how old are you?
LD – I am 22 and I am a Cancer 🙂
SMC – You had also mentioned in the IMM interview that you are from Chicago. I recently interviewed another band from the same area and they had wonderful things to say about the music scene there! What are your thoughts on the kind of support you have received where you’re from?
LD – Other than a few live shows, I haven’t been involved in the Chicago music scene! I do plan to return to Chicago to perform!
SMC – Let’s dive into your music. I LOVE that you wrote ‘Beowulf’ to honor the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Can you tell us what the connection was for you when you wrote the lyrics?
LD – The incident really spoke to me because of the perpetrator being male, what happened before the incident, as well as the age of the victims and their environment. A young male going into a kindergarten to slaughter children and teachers after having killed his mother, tells me that he suffered a great deal of childhood trauma that grew as he aged, eventually resulting in a sort of external destruction of what he felt he was never a part of. I think that society’s ideas about masculinity and boyhood as well as the perpetrator’s own personal familial struggles were a huge catalyst for the event. And this feeling of desperation, confusion and betrayal that I think the perpetrator felt allowed me to construct the lyrics of Beowulf around a character faced with similar thoughts.
SMC- What do you feel is the power behind your music in terms of how it affects your fans?
LD – Although I haven’t always known exactly who I am, I have always been a unique individual, and I think that my individuality, through my voice and lyrics, has defined my music. Especially now that I have transitioned from director and co-producer to sole producer, my songs are becoming an even more tangible representation of who I am. I strive to sing about things that are completely real and necessary for me, and I strive to sound like what I feel the subject matter needs. I think the power behind my music is simply the power that lays in being an individual and embracing that fully and unapologetically.
SMC – Do you feel that music can change the world? If so, in what way?
LD – Of course! Music has changed the world and music has changed me! Heck, my music has changed me ha-ha! Music is vibration and I believe that a song that you love is a song that literally resonates with you. Music is a deeply emotional and evocative form of communication that can touch the most undiscovered parts of ourselves. I think that like anything else, however, the power of music lays in the creator of it. I believe music is one of my most pure and fundamental gifts to this world and I treat it as such.
SMC – What has been the most frustrating thing you’ve experienced in your career to date?
LD – I don’t have enough funding to create everything I want to! I want to create so much and it requires things that I have yet to acquire! Getting to that point where I have all the means to produce what I envision, however, is part of the journey and I love all of it with every fiber of my being.
SMC – In reference to the previous question, how did you handle that?
LD – I handle it by the sheer love and magnetism I have for music and my career. I am so driven and so capable of achieving what I know I must that I just keep going! My financial limitations are also a lesson for me to create the most out of what I have, and I am deeply grateful for that.
SMC – Can you tell us which instrument you gravitate to most in terms of the song writing process?
LD – Aside from vocals of course, it used to be piano. Now days, since I mostly work with electronic production, it’s definitely that! A beat and a melody usually give me what I need.
SMC – What do you find beauty in?
LD – What a question! I find beauty in the success and understanding of any positive or transitional situation!
SMC- Do you think that social media is a help or a hindrance?
LD – As an independent artist especially, I think social media is a huge necessity and a gift! It allows me to connect with people I would have otherwise never met. It also provides me with the opportunity to learn and grow as a human being and artist. My Lights say so many insightful and amazing things. <3
SMC – When can we expect your EP to drop?
LD – June! Right before my West Coast Tour! 😀
SMC – How many songs are you planning on having on the EP?
LD – Five!
SMC – Where is your biggest fan base?
LD – So far I would have to say Facebook. My Lights are all over the world in random sporadic niches so its hard to pin point a physical location.
SMC – I love that your name ‘Lucien’ means ‘Light’ and that you refer to your fans as ‘Lights’ – can you tell us why?
LD – I say they are my ‘Lights’ because I believe it is through someone else’s support, exposure and sharing of you, that you are illuminated to the world beyond yourself.
SMC – I saw that you are doing some wicked costume designs for a recent photoshoot! Can you tell us about the concepts and theme?
LD – Yes! Apart from music and art, fashion design is my other primary creative platform and 2017 is the year that I will finally be able to start showing that in a very realized way! I’M SO EXCITED! The garments are rather experimental since I am completely self taught. They also don’t exactly fall into one category since they are all very different. One thing is certain and that is that they are all extravagant garments that aesthetically embody my feelings regarding my self-identity and complex, multi-dimensional gender and sexuality.
SMC – I referred to you as a ‘celestial being’ in a SMC post on our Instagram. Is that the first time you have heard that from anyone?
LD – Hahaha! No, it is not the first time I have heard that, which makes me laugh! It seems to be a common theme, but I feel that it’s not uncalled for based on the aesthetic that I have ha-ha.
SMC – I am going to ask a similar question about spirituality as I asked in the IMM interview but with a little twist: what are your thoughts on how you are best portraying your infidelity and personal beliefs?
LD – I understand that you’re asking me, in which way do I best portray that I am not a part of an organized religion, and rather an advocator for, and an example of individual spirituality? This is a tough question to navigate ha-ha! I think that I represent myself as a generous, unique human being with a very self-manifested sense of purpose, vision and spiritual identity, and that resonates when people get to know me.
SMC – Has there ever been a time where you have been criticized for your spirituality and if so, how did you handle it?
LD – From what I can remember, no one other than close friends have criticized or critiqued my spirituality. My sense of my spirituality is my sense of self and myself, and it changes and evolves as I do. I love to have conversations about complex intricate things, so it’s always a rewarding and evocative experience that I always appreciate.
SMC – What is the most off the wall thing you have done for your art?
LD – When I performed at the Teddy Awards a few years ago, the French arts associate for APEPAC (a France-based cultural arts association, and promotor and advocator for beauty and the arts) saw my performance on his television and had his assistant call me. He invited me to fly out to France to put on a few concerts around his town and to meet some lovely people. I said yes! It was amazing and magical and life changing. He remains a unique friend and business investor of mine today!
SMC – What is the one thing you would say ‘no’ to in terms of sacrificing who you are for the sake of fame?
LD – I think that the possibility of my brand and concept and practice of my career is something that is contingent on my ability and opportunity to express myself and have my success directly represent that. So, no need for saying no!
SMC – You are going to be entered into our Artist of the Year 2017 competition in June. So far, the highest fan votes in our competition was by SMITHRADIO and that was for February 2017. What are your thoughts on the AOY competition – do you think the ‘lights’ are up to the task?
LD – SMITHRADIO has a pretty big army! I think it’s beautiful and wonderful that I’m being entered into the AOY competition! I’m eager to discover the other artists and I’m pumped and I’m excited to get into that go go go mindset again! I definitely think that my Lights are up to the task. We’re a growing family and the things that I am creating and releasing soon will hopefully inspire and reach more and more people in the coming months!
SMC – Can you describe for our readers what the evolution of Lucien Dante was like? When did you have that ‘Ah ha’ moment when you knew music was your destiny?
LD – Actually, I first decided that I would use my first and middle name as my stage name when I was practicing signature aesthetics back when I was fifteen or sixteen. I used to have a strong stutter and it comes back a little every now and then when I speak. I realized that I had a hard time saying Lucien Lazar, which is my first and last name, so I decided Lucien Dante was easier, sounded more public, and still represented who I am. When I was sixteen I went to Germany on a foreign exchange trip. I fell in love for the first time, and I ended up writing a lot of piano ballads ha-ha. My exchange student and very close friend let me use his GarageBand to produce my acoustic sets into my first pop songs and then helped me upload them into SoundCloud. I created my first album, First Breath! 😀 For the next five or so years I just wrote tons and tons of songs on GarageBand and then Logic and then Ableton. I got signed three years ago and began working with other producers which eventually allowed for the creation of my first album Our Of We, which I released in June of 2015. A little over a year ago, I stopped working with other producers and started to harness my production skills. Brainheart is a triumph of all that hard work and my upcoming EP will be a grandiose personal success and public announcement of myself as a strong, self-created artist! I’m so excited!
SMC- I have listened to the ‘Our Of We’ album in its entirety and there is such variety! Was it intentional to have the music so diverse?
LD – Yes! With the addition of the physical album design, I wanted to create something that would represent me as a multimedia artist, writer and producer. It was definitely a product of searching and discovery as well! I look back on that album as an integral and life-changing experience for me.
SMC – Will there be a theme in your new EP?
LD – That’s an amazing question because I haven’t asked myself that yet! Ha-ha. I think the theme will be self-empowerment, diversity and exploration!
SMC – What is the kind of feedback that you have received from industry professionals and how did you react?
LD – All the feedback I have received has been so positive and encouraging. So far industry professionals have let me know I’m on the right track! 🙂
SMC – What is the comment you hear most from your fans about your music in terms of feedback?
LD – Many of my Lights say that my music calms them and relieves them of anxiety, which touches my heart. Others say it is angelic! Ha-ha, which makes me laugh and feel joyful. I remember one of my Lights said that my music is energetic yet peaceful, which is exactly how I think of it, so that was beautiful to hear.
SMC – Which social media platform do you prefer the most to interact with your fans?
LD – Facebook and Instagram!
SMC – When will you know that you have reached the level of success in terms of you career? In other words, what does success in the music industry mean to you?
LD – Success lays on many different levels and there are many different stages of success that have made me feel and will continue to make me feel accomplished. Before I die, however, I hope my career has become much greater and impactful and energizing than a traditional music career. I am an artist, a musician, a fashion designer, a poet, and so many more things. Success for me is ultimately changing the world for the better by utilizing my gifts in a soulful, life-filled way.
SMC – I would love to know your family background – many of the Musicians I interview have some sort of musical background….
LD – My father is a super hard working retailer and an amazing singer songwriter with a gorge voice 😀 He sings and plays piano, guitar, harmonica and a wooden flute. My mother used to play flute as well, but is mostly a very artistically aware person who is super wise, hard working, intelligent and generous. I’m half Jewish and half Catholic by birth. I have six siblings and they are all extremely unique intelligent people who are so much a part of who I am.
SMC – At what point in your career to date have you felt most comfortably and authentically you?
LD – NOW!
SMC – If given the choice, what country would you most like to perform in and why? (aside from North America)
LD – I would love to perform in Mexico because of its beautiful culture and lovely people, and also Japan. I think Japan has such a unique culture and artistic aesthetic both in and outside of music, it would be amazing to experience it! And Germany of course! Where it all began <3 I miss you!
SMC – What is going to be happening for you career-wise in the next 12 months? Can you give us some hints?
LD – I will be going on my debut tour! 😀 I will also be doing regular live dates around Los Angeles, and as always, I will be releasing new music, new art and a whole lot of incredible photo shoots revealing the creations and evolution of my First Official Fashion Collection. I will be revealing new garments every few months <3
SMC – Your Bio on your Facebook page says ‘I believe that we all come to this planet with a mission. To find ourselves, me must begin looking. To look for ourselves, we must be passionate, driven, curious, and empty for what is not there….’ Wow – those are some deep thoughts Lucien and your words resonate with me. When did you first begin to cultivate the wisdom and insight within you?
LD – I’ve spoken about my mother a lot, and rightly so. I think my mother is an extremely wise individual who radiates her wisdom, and sense and example of self realization and purpose out to everyone around her. Her wisdom and love combined with my father’s amazing love and artistic energy are the building blocks for who I am and I believe that it is truly the biggest part of myself. I’ve also had the privilege and hardship of having quite a few advisors in my life. At every point in my life I have always had a close elder friend to learn and grow from and they have most certainly aided in defining and enabling me.
SMC – When did you feel it was time to voice those thoughts?
LD – As I’ve grown up, I’ve become more aware of my individuality and through that, I’ve become able to understand and voice my thoughts and ideas. 🙂
SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us one thing you would like to improve on in terms of your career, personally, or in any aspect and why?
LD – I want to work on creating a stunning live show that resonates with myself and the audience, and I want it to be consistent and pure and inspiring. I also want to get faster at my craft because I have so many things to do! I’m so eager and excited to share my new things! <3
SMC – Thank You Lucien! Welcome to the SMC family! We wish you luck for the AOY competition in June!
LD – Thank you so much and I look forward to it SMC!
#LightsFamily <3 SMCFamily
Lucien Dante’s Social Media Links (click to view):
Los Angeles based, Chicago born, Germany refined Vocalist, Musician, Producer and Multimedia Artist Lucien Dante has always been attentive to mastering his craft. Though a skilled musician, designer, sculptor and painter, most of his attention rests in harnessing his voice. His sound fits into the musical genres of pop, EDM, alternative, R&B and acoustic. His sources of inspirations aren’t only rooted in artists he enjoys, but also in the environment surrounding him. For Dante, he has cultivated his voice by recording himself and unfolding his voice’s textures and the textures’ resonance, rather than relying on listening to his inspirations and attempting to mimic – he’s an individual, reverberating with uniqueness. Among the many tracks recorded on his own, he has recorded multiple singles, an EP and an LP since signing to his current label, DEG Records, in early 2015. His latest 18 track LP “Our Of We” brings you along on a spiritual journey with Dante as your guide. Post album he has released two singles, “Do It For The Heart” released early 2016 and the recently released “BrainHeart” A national tour is planned for Spring/Summer 2017.