An Interview with Dante Bucci - By Colin Foulke

We have been incredibly lucky here this week at HandPans Magazine, because HandPan musician, tutor, and all-round ambassador for these singing steel creations, ‘Colin Foulke’, was kind enough to grab us an interview with one of the original, and continually legendary Hang/HandPan performers of our times, ‘Dante Bucci’ - star of the Philly music scene, and one of the most watched HandPan performers of all time, with his YouTube videos having garnered millions of views. And additionally, Dante is also the composer of one of our own favorite HandPan compositions to date, ‘Flagelolet’ (from his recently released (at time of writing) d├ębut full album, 'Kinesthesia' - which can be purchased on iTunes: HERE, or at CD Baby: HERE).

Interview Highlights (and videos from the new album):

Colin: Dante Bucci, what was your first musical instrument?

Dante: I think my first musical instrument was a little plastic guitar, I was three years old, and I think I sat on it, and broke it...  But, it was piano.
 I started taking piano lessons in first grade, I guess that’s how my music career got started...

Colin: Can you tell me a little more about your musical background…


Dante: Well, the piano lessons, and singing.  Singing has been a major thing, since, I guess, elementary school.  And all through high-school, and college... In college I started to pick up other things, like a little guitar, and hand percussion.  Actually hand percussion was a thing that was there for a long time, but I never really recognised it, until somebody put a set of bongos in front of me - and then that sort of took off...


I got congas, and djembe, and doumbeks, and all that kind of thing.  So yeah, mostly that as I progressed into late college, when early after graduating, I decided that I kind of liked the obscure, and unconventional, such as the singing bowl, and the didgeridoo, then I sought the weirdest things I could find, like the Theremin, and the musical saw, so, that was the progression there...
Colin: How did you hear about the Hang?

Dante: The Hang was described to me, by a lovely gentleman, at the Philadelphia folk festival, in 2006.  He, and I, had been jamming in a camp ground at the folk fest - I had seen him many years prior to that, he was a regular, I had been going since 2000, and he’d been going since the 70’s - we were making some music, and at the end of the jam session he turned to me and said, “you seem like the kind of gentleman who would appreciate this instrument I just saw”, and he didn’t have one, but he described it to me, he spelt it out: “H-A-N-G” - and I went home; and I Googled it...

Colin: What year was that?

Dante:  That was 2006.
 I found Ron Kravitz, In Philadelphia, who was local, so I gave him a call.  And he said that he happened to be going over to Switzerland shortly to bring back a batch, and his waiting list was pretty much full, but I was on the extended list, in case other people couldn’t afford one, and had to bow out.  And I was lucky, when he came back, he had a pan for me.  So I went over to his place, I went to his basement where he had like thirty of these Hang lined up - and I ran around and hit the Ding on every one, and then picked the one which sounded the best...

Colin:  And what generation was that?

Dante: The first one I got was a D Minor, I believe second generation, it was not one of the officially listed scales, it was just at that time that they were playing with the D Minor, and various other notes, but pretty much all of the same tonality...

Colin: What is the name of your new album, and the inspiration behind it?

Dante: Following on from the 2008 EP, ‘Reminiscence’, the new full length album is called, ‘Kinesthesia’.  The title is a word that means ‘your sense of where your limbs are in relation to the rest of your body’...  If you’ve ever had a sobriety test, and they tell you close your eyes and touch your nose, that’s Kinesthesia right there, knowing how to find things in space just by feeling, and that’s definitely useful when I’m playing, because I sometimes play more than one at a time, and I can’t look at all places at once, so that was the inspiration there…  And it’s basically all the songs that I’ve written so far that I like, including a couple from my 2008 effort...

Colin: What HandPans will you be playing on the new album?


Colin Foulke's HandPans and
Sound Sculptures -
Intermediate to Advanced
Available for sale: HERE
Dante: The F Major, and the D Minor, are pretty much all over it.  The Kourd Atar makes an appearance on one or two songs, and the Bells Jibuk, on one song…

Colin: What is your favorite HandPan/Sound Model you’ve ever played?

Dante: I guess I would have to say my favorite is one I own, because I’m the most familiar and intimate with those… The BellArt, the Jibuk scale, is probably my favorite at the moment, because it’s allowed me to do a lot of different melodies. And it’s versatile enough that you can get a lot of different Christmas songs out of it, and I’m working on a Christmas album right now.  I’ve just found that to be the most dynamic, and versatile scale so far...

Colin: Any dream Scales, or ones you’d like to see made on a HandPan?

Dante: My Halo, the one I recently got - was exactly what I asked for.  I haven’t had a chance yet to really focus on it.  But I would say that that, having the B natural, having the F sharp, and the C sharp - it has all the notes that I’ve been coveting for a long time, and it has that smoky sound to it that I feel has a lot of potential…  Really what I would want, is a proper chromatic set-up, that I could just learn, and write everything on from now on, and not have to worry about what pans to bring to a gig… it’s gotten to a point that if I want to play my whole repertoire I have to bring and shuffle around like five pans, which is a little inconvenient…

Colin: Any singing saw on the new album?

Dante: No - I did a little singing saw on YouTube, and in the studio - and under the microscope of the studio, it was not up to par, and it felt kind of unnecessary…  I didn’t feel that it was a good fit, and I didn’t want to force it...

Colin: Any thoughts on PANArt’s new creation, the ‘Gubal’?

Dante: “The Gumball!” - I saw the video, and I think it’s fascinating - I kind of just want to spin it like a top...  I haven’t had the chance to play one in person yet, but I probably will in the next couple of weeks - It just seems like another unique feature of melodic hand percussion, focusing more on the bass and percussion, than other more melodic higher-pitched pans - and I’m excited that PANArt is continuing to develop, and create…

Colin: So, what’s next for Dante Bucci?

Dante: I’m collaborating with a singer/song-writer named,
‘Angela Sheik’, and she’s very adept at, well, everything - singing, playing multiple instruments, the Theremin, auto harp, and she’s very well known for her loop-pedal skills.  And I myself, being somebody who plays a lot of different instruments, was very attracted to that…  She is instant with the melodies and lyrics, and I’m instant with the grooves and the vocal percussion thing, so the two of us together assist each other in overcoming some of those hurdles that individually we’ve encountered - and so far we have gotten a lot of positive feedback. So you can look forward to a collaborative effort between me and Angela, and we're hoping to put together some kind of EP that should be available this coming winter…

Colin: Any final thoughts?

Dante: ‘Buy my Album!’ :D - It’s out on October, 25th.  You can pre-order it on iTunes from October 1st, it’ll be available in physical format October 22nd on CD Baby, and digital on iTunes- and October 25th is my CD release if anybody is in the Pennsylvania region...

Colin: How many tracks?
Dante: Ten tracks (and I sing on one of them!). :D

Colin: Dante Bucci, thank you!

Dante: You’re welcome!

To purchase Dante Bucci's debut full album, Kinesthesia, (or simply just to check out all things Dante), visit dantebucci.com

Or alternatively, you can connect with Dante over at Facebook: HERE, or subscribe to his YouTube channel: HERE

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