With a thriving mullet on his head, the largest (and cheapest) ’70s-style glasses he could find on his face, and grooves and moves bursting from his heart, Ruben Zarate aka Dante Elephante is filling this treacherous world with romantic, disco-infused melodies humanity desperately needs right now.
His newest album Mid-Century Modern Romance, which came out this past Friday, Jan. 8, is a soothing bourbon cocktail mixed with colorful excitement. The sultry melodies reminiscent of ‘60s/’70s disco and R&B wrap around you like warm loving arms. Songs like “Santa Barbara,” “E-Motion,” and the title track instantly transport you to a dark club where you’re slow dancing up close, head on shoulder, with your dream lover. Then tracks like “Find Somebody to Love” and “Jeni” make you want to break out, start loving on yourself, and showing off your moves.
Dante Elephante, “E-Motion”
“This record is really like an homage to my family, to Santa Barbara [Zarate’s hometown], and the kind of music I listened to growing up,” Zarate tells BTRtoday. “I loved the R&B vibes and I wanted to lean more into that.”
Mid-Century Modern Romance was actually written a few years ago while Dante Elephante was on tour. His heart yearned for his life and happiness back home in Santa Barbara, but also found new joy and excitement on the road. Perhaps that would tear a normal heart, but not Zarate’s. With this passion for everything in life, Zarate created music that is able to capture the essence of an all-encompassing love.
Even with Zarate’s inherent optimism, 2020 was musically uninspiring. But that didn’t stop him from keeping his heart connected with the world. He started a podcast where he chats with artists every Tuesday. Zarate says it’s really been keeping him going creatively throughout the pandemic.
Dante Elephante, “Jeni” live in L.A. (sans audience)
“It’s just about connecting and learning more about how [the artists] work and realizing that we all have similar struggles,” he says. “I found that every musician I know has just been really unmotivated [in 2020]. [Are] we all gonna sing about the same stuff, man—like, being stuck in our house? I don’t know.”
Though last year was a creative struggle for Zarate and many others, 2021 has already started off with a great bang for Dante Elephante with Mid-Century Modern Romance. Listen to the new album in its entirety and the full interview with Ruben Zarate aka Dante Elephante on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.