Danté Knows describes his new EP, Phase One, as sounding like something “created in an underground lab by some wicked scientists.”
Phase One is the New York-born, Sydney-based artist’s debut EP. The five-track sequence includes Danté’s 2021 single, “Chills”, featuring Tasker and Xing Xang Dong (aka Sticky Fingers’ Paddy Cornwall). The second single from the EP is “My Bad”, the video for which is premiering today.
Phase One is the outcome of two years’ worth of in-studio collaboration between Danté Knows and producer Caleb Tasker (Tuka, Okenyo). The pair first connected on the road, where they bonded over their mutual fascination with hip hop and psychedelic rock music.
“We had no goals or expectations,” Tasker told Rolling Stone Australia. “Having spent hours on planes and green rooms together, there was this comfort to just let loose and make whatever it was that we wanted to make.”
Starting out in Brooklyn, Danté was unfamiliar with the tripped-out sounds of Australia’s contemporary rock scene. He moved to Sydney a couple of years ago and discovered the likes of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and Tame Impala. He then grew eager to integrate guitars and celestial atmospheres into his own music.
Meanwhile, Tasker is “obsessed with all the boundary pushing rap coming out of the States,” which shines through in the verses of “My Bad”. The rock guitars enter for the arena-sized chorus, which is reminiscent of Kid Cudi or Kanye West circa Graduation.
Danté Knows and Tasker not only gelled in the studio, but managed to merge their backgrounds and influences into what Tasker called a “serendipitous” creative union. “Those sessions were some of the most free-flowing and experimental that I’ve ever done,” he said. “Anything could come out of it.”
Danté echoed this sentiment in a recent interview with Purple Sneakers. “We wanted to really go against the grain. That’s where me and Tasker stand. Always pushing the boundaries and pushing a new sound,” he said.
Phase One is Danté Knows’ debut EP, but he’s built an estimable body of work over the past few years. His early singles, such as 2018’s “Off This” and 2019’s “Frequency”, were more conspicuously indebted to contemporary trap sounds, while also drawing on grime and Afroswing.
Danté’s artistic curiosity has continued to grow as his career has progressed. This curiosity is matched by a kind of creative fearlessness, which has given rise to tracks spanning indie pop (“Caution”), psychedelic hip-hop (“Chills”), and goth-tinged electro-hip-hop (“Laced”).
Over the last couple of years, Danté has guested on tracks by Blacktown MC Lil Spacely (“Bang My Line”), Melbourne-based rock’n’rollers The Delta Riggs (“Don’t Be Lonely – Dub”) and his Gum Records label mate, Raj Mahal (“Racks”).
“My Bad” is Danté Knows’ most arresting track to date, demonstrating the seamlessness with which he’s now able to shift from a high-volume flow into a buoyant, melodic chorus. The music video, directed by The Sesh, makes it clear that “My Bad” is designed as a soundtrack to socialising.
“My Bad” is also the perfect gateway to the Phase One EP, demonstrating how Danté and Tasker threw the rulebook out the window as far as genre was concerned. In addition to Tasker, Danté worked with backing band The Trouble, featuring Sticky Fingers members Seamus Coyle and Freddy Crabs and Bootleg Rascal’s Jimmy Young.
Phase One is yet another indication of the progressive strain running through the contemporary Australian hip hop scene. Or, as Danté says, “The whole project feels like one big trip to the astral realm.”
Danté Knows’ EP, Phase One, is out now.