GUS DAPPERTON is undoubtedly one of New York’s hottest commodities right now. You may have first encountered him through his work with BENEE on her break-out hit ‘Supalonely’, but since then he’s proved over and over again he’s a mega star in his own right. His 2020 sophomore album Orca is a heady mix of gritty alt-pop and introspective lyrics — covering everything from mortality to depression and putting his heart right on display for the world to see (it also received rave reviews from pretty much everyone).
We teamed Gus up with the super human NYC photographer MYLA DALBESIO for an intimate shoot and interview to discuss his creative process, life on the road, and what he’s learned over the past year.
Could you describe the creative process of writing a song? How does it start? At what point does the band come into play? How do you write your lyrics?
It starts in many different ways. Sometimes it starts with a melody in my head, or a phrase overheard on the street, or the strum of a chord. I usually create the entire song digitally then replace the digital instrumentation with live instrumentation - that’s where the band comes in. And when we play live of course. When it comes to lyrics I usually will have a general topic or idea. Then I will sing random vowels and consonants and then the words slowly come to me.
You’ve traveled the world on tour - what are some of the highlights from the places you’ve visited? Do you have a memory of something that feels the most magical to you? How have your travels inspired your work?
The first time we played overseas we played in dublin. That was a very magical show for me. And the last show we played on that same tour in italy where i was able to sit back and reflect on what had just occurred. It was the first time I truly saw my dreams come to life. Generally I am inspired by changes in my environment so I tend to write on the road a lot.
When was the first time you experienced culture shock?
Hmm to be honest i’m not sure if I have really experienced it. Obviously people, places, and things are very different over the world but I never go into new experiences with reference to my life back home. I like to just go with the flow.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you feel like your well of creativity is running dry?
I dont force inspiration upon myself. When creativity is running dry I don’t create. I have faith in myself to act whenever i am inspired so i like to just sit back and study when i’m not.
You obviously have a unique and developed personal style. What are some of your favorite looks from your past? Do you have any specific memories from your childhood that ignited your interest in fashion?
I am definitely happy with all my music video looks - some of which were from my own wardrobe that have since been sold and some that havent - As a child i used to constantly change outfits throughout the day. And the outfits would consist of halloween costumes from previous years. I liked to mix and match superhero costumes.
Is there anyone or anything you look to for aesthetic inspiration?
Not really i think stylistically i am inspired by different decades and go through phases of being obsessed with the aesthetics of them.
What advice would you give to young artists who are trying to find their voice and their audience?
Create a local community. Find like minded artists in your hometown. I learned the most from my peers and your peers will push you to progress.
Outside of the obvious cancellations of live shows, how do think the pandemic has changed and will change the future of the music industry? How has it changed the way you approach your creative practice?
It’s hard to say. Personally I think it will closely go back to the way it was. I feel like the routine of touring and roll outs is not through yet. I think that now I have gained a much greater appreciation for life and the position I’m in. Making music must always be joyous. I used to be so set on the idea that everything I make has to be substantial. But that’s not the case - it is the process that i fell in love with, not the finished product.
What are three things that living through 2020 has taught you?
Never take anything for granted I needed time off Anything can happen
What are your top five albums you’d bring on a deserted island?
Tops - Picture you Staring Arcade Fire - The Suburbs Metronomy - The English Riviera Alex G - House Of Sugar Madvillain - Madvillainy
What artists are you listening to right now?
The Bee Gees, Matt Maltese, Drake, New Radicals
Listen to ORCA by Gus Dapperton HERE