Hearing Gus Dapperton sing is like stepping into an endearing miniature world that was designed, constructed and, most importantly, soundtracked by the artist himself. Born Brendan Rice, the 21-year-old singer and songwriter from Warwick, New York, has steadily been releasing one sweet single after the other, and is currently putting the finishing touches on his debut record. Why we love Gus? Well, first of all, for his all-round approach to being an artist. His smart sound comes with visual expressions that’ll transport you straight into his splashy universe—where music, film and fashion go hand in hand. On top of that, this rising talent refuses to tick predetermined boxes. Judging by his Technicolour (and constantly changing) hairdos and shades, you might expect Gus Dapperton to produce radio-ready, overly polished pop. Well, none of that is true. Put on some Dapperton and you’ll be sure to guzzle in lo-fi indie gems that spell out nostalgia as much as now.
Let’s start with a simple but possibly complicated question. Who is Brendan Rice, who is Gus Dapperton, and what do they mean to each other?
My name is Gus. Brendan is the soft, creatively suppressed child that I left behind.
Are you as much a dreamer as your music suggests?
No, I’m not, to be honest. But I tap into my imagination and exist there. So, I like to pretend that I’m always living in the world inside my head—like you would in a dream.
When listening to your songs I noticed there’s always something poetic and endearing about the titles. What, according to you, makes for a good title or lyric?
I like song titles to be cinematic. I’m telling a long and exotic tale but instead of a film it just happens to be condensed into a song. The titles are strong summaries.
What do you consider the best lyric you’ve ever written?
I like most of my work all the same. But the song Beyond Amends means the most to me:
Lay this heavy stone my love / You didn’t have to grieve like that / I know, I know, my love / I didn’t want to leave like that
You recently were on an extensive European tour. Do you feel the reception of your music here is any different than in North America? And what are the pros and cons of life on the road?
The crowd reactions are quite similar. People, in general, in Europe are a little less hesitant to approach me, which is wonderful. I love being with my band and I love being away from home for some time. We have a good team and this has been my dream ever since I started—so there are no cons. I embrace everything.
Judging by your visuals, you have a great eye for photography and video. How do you go about choosing your collaborators?
I like working with my friends and people I can trust. Matthew Dillon Cohen does most of my videos and I love him and working with him.
Film, next to music, is very much your medium. Where and when did your love of film begin?
I always enjoyed film. I think growing up my dad was quite enthusiastic about film and it rubbed off on me.
Your looks have been compared to anyone from Eminem (or his ’80s predecessor) to Machine Gun Kelly and—surprise!—Cristiano Ronaldo. But whom do you consider influential (style) icons?
Interesting. I’d say, my childhood self.
Gus Dapperton and colour seem inseparable. Do you have a favourite? And what’s your favourite hair colour so far?
I enjoy most colours all the same but I go through phases of palettes I’m drawn towards. I think green looks good on me. I have pink now, I like that as well.
I was thinking about the nostalgic quality of your music, and kept hearing Lady Gaga singing “nostalgia’s for geeks!” in my head. Seriously though, are you a geek/perfectionist when it comes to writing, producing and performing?
Yes. I write, record and produce all my music. So in regards to that: yes, everything has to be a certain way.
What’s the strangest sound you’ve ever incorporated in a song?
My voice, I think, sounds strange. And how I sing.
This issue of Glamcult magazine centres on one big but very personal theme. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “nurture”?
It takes time to hone in and master your craft. It has to be done carefully and with passion, but you must put in that time. I think that relates to nurture heavily.
What are “things” you’ve been consciously nurturing lately? And what should you perhaps be nurturing more?
The relationships with everyone I love.
With nurturing comes growth and development. Looking to the future, where do you see yourself going? Can we expect a Gus Dapperton album soon?
I live in the present. And yes, April 19th!