Photo Credit: Shefik
"Adult Pop" is what multi-talented creator Robert Kantor calls his musical style. Indeed, a grown-up, tuneful sincerity links all his work.
Kantor's songs are disarmingly simple, the sort of tunes people can sing round a camp-fire, or as they share a shower. Each track in the mini-song cycle of "Dancing Fools", "Dreamer", "The Rain Song", "Know What I Know Now", and "Tuesday Girl" has great meaning for Kantor, in a way we can all relate to.
"I slid modern digital techniques into a retro sound. It is a hybrid combination — and it is very much mine," Kantor asserts.
Guaranteeing the integrity of his concept, they are among the first releases on the Blaksushi multi-media label that Kantor co-founded with partner Kareem Devlin.
Over the years, Kantor has worn many professional hats — and they all looked good.
"I have always been a creative person," Kantor says. "But, I did not deem myself as an artist. For me, music is a one to one connection. I can take what I feel and put it out there, pure and simple."
On "The Rain Song", with its ambient video, Kantor harmonizes with his daughter Mary. They share a particular bond, having nursed his late wife (her mother) through her last days. This tune was her Mother's Day present, not long before she passed. Her response to her husband and daughter was, "You must not abandon your musical gifts."
Her words impelled Kantor to re-visit his other first love — music — to heal his grief and help him re-build his life. These songs are the result. With its wicked clips from great dance floors of the past, the video of "Dancing Fools" summons the fundamental joy of life that gets us moving — in both its 1960's yé-yé pop and its Brazilian samba versions.
The synth-pop swing of "Dreamer" depicts a lover confronting his fantasies; and said hurt lover can vent his disillusion in the lively neo R&B of "Know What I Know Now". "Tuesday Girl" shows life dancing on, as though his beloved has a frustratingly hectic life, she still makes his days sparkle.
Kantor's real-life muse is a young artist whose vivid nails and mischievous grin adorn the sleeve. The song shows Kantor starting to have fun again and re-live a youth spent in hip clubs like Max's Kansas City and Studio 54, partying with fellow musicians like the New York Dolls.
Growing up in Scarsdale in Westchester County, New York, Kantor's kid sister taught him how to play folk on his guitar when he was 10, which he parlayed into high school bands. The teenage founders of Aerosmith, who were also part of the scene, encouraged him. But, Kantor's parents felt he was having too much fun playing bars at 15.
"I couldn't have stayed alive if I had continued in that world back then," Kantor laughs.
Mercury Records gave him a deal for a trio, and Kantor himself went on to release two indie projects: the folk and funk-tinged ballads and rock of the "1974" EP, and 2012's more introspective and experimental "Skyline Sessions". But, the man just had so many skills that he could not focus on music alone.
Though he was an untrained artist, when his stepfather invited him to try designing, Kantor's sweaters swiftly sold to big department stores. He was needed to create graphics for brands. He opened busy rehearsal studios and launched Blaksushi, which develops animation and other projects as well as music. Kantor is best known as a creator of customized guitars. Working with a curated team of artists and artisans, Kantor's guitars are embellished with arresting rock 'n' roll imagery that often twinkle with Swarovski crystals. Exquisite collector's items, sold at auction, they are treasured by the likes of Eric Clapton, Lady Gaga, Richie Sambora, Santana, and Lenny Kravitz. Kantor's guitar lovers have created their own community of fans — some of whom urged Kantor to re-visit music, even introducing him to today's digital techniques.
Yet, when great life changes pushed Kantor to express himself in a profoundly personal way, there was only one thing to do.
Because as Kantor says, "I left music behind many times, but it always calls me back. And, now I am taking the time to have music move me forward."
Last Updated: May 31, 2021