Lani’s digital stars align in 2023 with GDP Festival performance, ‘Love, Lani’ album release

GDP Music Festival 2023

Hoyt Sherman Place, 5:30 p.m., April 15, $20-35

Lani performs at xBk in Des Moines — photo by Paul Ginaven, contributed by the artist

Lani Eclatt was 14 years old when she performed her first solo in front of an audience, backed by an orchestra performing a song she’d composed.

“It was such a big deal for me at the time, but from there I knew I wanted to keep writing and performing,” said Eclatt, who has continued to play under simply “Lani.”

Eclatt’s performing prowess will continue to advance this year as she joins the lineup for the Des Moines Music Coalition’s GDP music festival, a first in her career.

The music festival has appeared in various incarnations through the Des Moines area since 2006, always showcasing Iowa musicians. The stage is set to host hip-hop artist B. Well, country up-and-comer EleanorGrace and, among others, Eclatt’s Latin-pop/indie-rock songs.

Eclatt was born in Florida, the daughter of Colombian-American parents, but has been in Des Moines since she was 4 years old. She’s always fostered a love for music. By age 11, she was teaching herself to play keyboard.

Eclatt’s first single “Digital Stars” took shape while she was taking a college course, much like that first performance at 14, which happened when she volunteered an original song to her class.

“[“Digital Stars”] was actually used as a hands-on project for a recording engineering class,” said Eclatt, who studied vocal music business at Drake University.

“We were working with a sound engineer who taught us mics, EQ, all of the basics of being a sound engineer, and he wanted us to do a project where we could get hands-on experience with setting up mics and getting them connected. And he was like, ‘Does anyone have a song they want to do?’ and I was like ‘I have one!’ ”

She went on to release “Digital Stars” as a single in 2019 and also included it on her 2021 album Reminiscent.

That album is largely composed of lyrically rich songs accentuated by soaring vocals and melancholic piano chords prevalent in Eclatt’s still-developing sound.

After college, Eclatt paused for a while, until she found a place to record again. She found that place thanks to one of her musical collaborators — and fellow 2023 GDP performer — Geneviève Gros-Louis Salamone.

Not only does Eclatt play piano for Dueling Fiddles — a violin duo composed of Salamone and Hanna Wolle — but she was also among the first to record in Salamone’s Wendat Records, a West Des Moines-based music studio named for Salamone’s Indigenous heritage. Salamone has received international recognition, performing at Paris Fashion Week late last year.

“She’s been kind of my mentor for my musical career since I started taking it seriously in 2021,” Eclatt said.

Eclatt and Salamone are performing back-to-back at GDP, and to bridge their sets, the two will both perform their cover of “Creep.”

For her future ambitions, Eclatt plans to release a new album, Love, Lani, this July, and she’s also hoping to create an event for Latina Heritage Month this September. The latter project is still in the works, but she’s confident the stars will align for it.

“I’ve been wanting to get a collection of female Latina business owners and celebrate their entrepreneurship and their creativity, and have a big old block party on the south side, and just get some bands together, and play and do something casual and fun,” she said. “A big, casual, fun block party (on the south side) where people can eat food and listen to music and explore Latina-owned businesses in the Des Moines-area.”

This article was originally published in Little Village Central Iowa issue 012.