Exclusive Interview with Singer/Actor Dante Palminteri

You might know Dante Palminteri’s father, Academy-award nominated actor Chazz Palminteri. But now, the New York based actor and musician is carving out his own path in the entertainment industry. He just released his new single “I Don’t Even Know You”, which is an anti-Valentine’s Day anthem detailing how you can fall for someone and find out they are a totally different person. 

I got the chance to talk to Dante about his musical influences, how studying at Berklee College of Music impacted the artist he is today, the story behind ”I Don’t Even Know You” and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!

Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.

I grew up around musicians and artists; it was always very inspirational. Even before I could recognize it, the seed was planted in my head and I knew what I wanted to do. I started taking piano lessons when I was a kid, and started going to after-school music programs when I was 10. Once I started regularly playing music with other kids, I was hooked, and that lead me to where I am now. 

Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?

My biggest inspiration is John Mayer. When I was a kid, I heard his album Room For Squares and was blown away. I immediately wanted to learn how to play and write songs like him. His lyrics are what launched me into an obsession with lyricists. 

I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music, so if you had to describe the music you make without using genre names, how would you describe it?

The main thing I always want to convey with my music is connection. I would call my music romantic. 

Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?

My biggest influence is John Mayer. And from learning more about his influences, I found more of my own. Chet Baker, Jason Isbell, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Derek Trucks are some of my biggest influences today. But influences come and go. Next year I may be influenced more by Robert Glasper then Jack Johnson. Creating music is a very fluid process and you have to let yourself be open to new genres and viewpoints. 

I know you also studied at Berklee College of Music. In what ways did your studies there impact the artist you are today?

The best thing Berklee teaches you is work ethic. Every Berklee musician was the best musician in their hometown or high school. Right when you are thrown into Berklee, you see very quickly that you are not as dope as you thought you were and there are only two courses of action. Quit or get in a practice room. It teaches you that in this industry, nobody is going to come looking for you, you have to bust down the doors of your listeners and show them why you are the artist they should be streaming. 

Your new single is ”I Don’t Even Know You”. What is it about?

“I Don’t Even Know You” was written when I heard a bunch of crazy stories about my girlfriend that I could never see her involved in. She is very straight and narrow so hearing these crazy stories planted the song seed in my head. I took it a step farther in the song and made her even crazier then the stories were, and in the video, I went even farther and made her involved with the mob. 

Something I’ve always been curious with songwriting is how topics come to mind. Did you know what you wanted to write about going into the song session that birthed ”I Don’t Even Know You” or did it just come about organically once you were in the session?

This was a total burst of inspiration. I wasn’t practicing or in a studio or even in front of a musical instrument. I was at a bar in Long Island City talking to my girlfriend’s friends. They told me about her crazy days in London and Paris and I remembered thinking that I had to write a song about this. Once I sat down to write, it was very easy; I just wrote exactly what I was hearing in these stories versus what she’s like now.  

Was there any major changes made to ”I Don’t Even Know You” once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?

Actually no, not really. Once I explained the idea and the vibe for the song, everyone was very into it. They all thought it was funny and original.

You also shot a music video for “I Don’t Even Know You”. What was that process like? How did it compare to the other ones you’ve done?

This was the first official video I have ever released and if every other music video I ever make would be half as fun as that one, I would be lucky. I gathered all my acting friends together whom I’ve known for years and it couldn’t have been more of a blast. They threw me a in trunk and beat me up in Brooklyn all with big smiles on their faces. I can’t wait to drop another one. 

You are still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?

Right now, my biggest goal is to reach 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. I have a ton of music on the way so I’m pulling out all the stops and trying everything to reach that goal. Secondly, this is more of a personal goal. I really want to sell out Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn. I have just always really loved that venue and it would be a huge win for me one day to sell it out.  

Aside from music, you’ve also done some acting here and there. Is that something you’re still interested in pursuing or are you all in on music right now?

Acting is a huge part of my life. I am constantly auditioning and going out for new parts. I peruse acting viciously and it gives me a foot in a game of inches. 

Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?

Hmmm, I’m nerdy about a lot of things honestly. I don’t have hobbies, I have unhealthy obsessions. I would say the thing I’m “nerding” about besides music and acting is cooking. Cooking and restaurants and food atmosphere has always been at the forefront of my childhood and is something I am trying to master. It is futile to think I can even touch my Nonna’s traditional southern Italian cooking, but I figure if I start when I’m in my 20s I’ll at least have an understand of it when I’m a Nonno myself. 

For more information, make sure you visit Dante’s website or follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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