Local Limelight: Dante’s Paradise

The band has ventured from the Capilano jazz program to hopping Vancouver venues

Sam, Justice and Todd are silly guys who make seriously good music. (Aly Laube)

The jazz program at CapU is home to a community of young and talented creatives, many of whom have started their own projects in the Vancouver music scene. Some are bands previously featured in this column (formerly titled “Artist Spotlight”), such as Club Sofa, Wind-Up Birds, and Wax Cowboy. Another is Dante’s Paradise, a four-piece group that creates dreamy, indie rock centred around peppy guitar riffs and confessional lyrical hooks.

What unites these bands, aside from their enrolment at the same university, is a jangly, jazz-infused sound that has become an important part of the city’s musical underground.

Lead guitarist Sam Baglier says that Dante’s Paradise differs from other projects that its members have been involved in because the group is so heavily influenced by the musicians that surround them.

“It just gave us new sounds to work with. I think we came from a pretty isolated area when we first started,” says Baglier, referring to his and his bandmates’ Vancouver Island roots.

Rhythm guitarist and vocalist Justice Cote adds that, in regards to shaping the group’s sound, “jazz school has been a big influence too.”

“Going to school and conversing with all of these other songwriters really opened a lot of doors theoretically, and we started writing more complex harmonies than we used to,” he says.

“When you don’t know what to do in the songwriting process, it’s good to have that backlog of stuff that you know might work and [you] kind of familiarize yourself with patterns that your songs might go through,” adds drummer Todd Stewart.

Currently, Dante’s Paradise only has one record out: a three-song EP entitled Haunts My Dreams. At 15 minutes it’s long for a record with such a short tracklist, and is full of smooth, memorable vocal melodies and meandering guitar solos cushioned in echo and reverb.

The band’s next record doesn’t yet have a release date, but it is set to include more featuring artists, instrumental variety, and “heavy, droning” synths than their past work. This second collection is bound to be more “sonically full” and “overall a bit less high energy” than Haunts My Dreams, but Cote is confident that it will present “a big sound” that’s likely to mark a genre shift for the band.

“I think that this new album is going to be drawing on more of the folk influence that was in their previous project [The Stolen Faces] rather than the stuff we were doing before on the earlier EP,” says Stewart. “This stuff is going to be more eclectic, I think.”

In the meantime, people interested in the band can look forward to the release of their music video for “Foolish Night” from the debut record. It should be publicly available midway through October and, according to Cote, is “just about a really rough night.”

“You get to see us in some really un-glamorous scenarios, and I’m going to leave it at that,” he says.

Dante’s Paradise’s next show will be at Railway Stage & Beer Cafe on Dec. 8.

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