KCRW’s Private Playlist: Dante Elephante

KCRW’s Private Playlist is a listening session with Southern California’s most notable musical figures in their private creative environments. A native son of Goleta, CA, Ruben Zarate received his education in a musical family in the shadow of UC Santa Barbara. For Zarate, that homegrown influence inspired him to bypass the town’s party-oriented music scene in favor of the introspective and aspirational writing of heroes like Harry Nilsson and Alex Chilton. In 2010, Zarate miraculously found a group of kindred spirits and formed the first incarnation of Dante Elephante. The band’s earliest efforts were captured on 2013’s “German Aquatics” cassette, whose production was threaded through with nostalgic surf-rock influences. Their 2015 full-length debut, “Anglo-Saxon Summer,” took a harder-edged approach. Zarate’s restless creative spirit led to another stylistic sea-change with their latest album, “Mid-Century Modern Romance,” which wraps his smart but heartfelt songwriting in gauzy disco fabrics.