Having only six of his own songs on Spotify, 20–year–old Gus Dapperton is far from prolific or well–known—but he will be. He has a name that will make you question, “Is that his real name?” and a sound that will make you ask, “What genre is this?” To the first question, yes. To the second, it’s impossible to really categorize it, which is what makes his music so novel. He's inspired heavily by The Beach Boys and David Bowie, so his music doesn’t really have a contemporary style. It’s not quite alt–rock, has some pop vibes, and is kind of dreamy–sounding. His genre–bending creates a refreshing sound that is suitable to almost any situation. His songs are fun to chill to, dance to, and think with. They’re both energizing and soothing at the same time. The more you listen to them, the deeper they seem and more enjoyable they become. His voice doesn't line up to the soft, pleasant voices of artists such as Frank Ocean or Ed Sheeran—it has a somewhat rough quality to it that oddly makes him feel more relatable. When he hits higher notes, his voice gets a little jagged in a way that lets you know he's putting everything he has into it.
"I'm Just Snacking": At first, the lyrics seem kind of obscure and as if they make absolutely no sense. But looking deeper into Dapperton's character, you can begin to understand this song piece by piece. As he says, in a lot of his music he takes random phrases that he hears from people he's close to and gives a ton of meaning to that one phrase, so although the name of the song is "I'm Just Snacking," it shockingly has nothing to do with snacks. On first listen, it's pretty difficult to pick up on any coherent narrative, but if you dig deeper, the message is there. In an interview with Wonderland Magazine, he reveals the hidden meaning: it's about "two people who are in love but don’t have the courage to be together." Aside from the lyrics, his vocals shine on this song. In the chorus, his voice arcs as he sings "Well, I bet we'd look pretty outside"—and it's hard not to get at least a little excited. Try it.
"Miss Glum and the Pursuit of Falling": Dapperton creates two characters who share some connection. This song starts off on the slow side, but picks up a lot by virtue of the extended outro. In it, you hear the raspy cry of "Miss Glum, why'd you leave me like that?" which just has to make you feel some sort of emotional tug.
"The Fool": Dapperton simply tells the story of his feeling dumb after giving himself over to a girl only to get hurt and feeling like a fool. Though not as catchy as his other songs, this one gives a peek into his mind after the feeling of being misled by someone he clearly cared about (Ed. note: Preaching to the choir.).
The Music Videos
Not only are his songs great, but his music videos add an extra layer of depth that is both very telling of Dapperton's persona and a work of art. To date, he's made his own music videos for just two songs: “I’m Just Snacking” and “Moodna, Once With Grace."
In “I’m Just Snacking,” he portrays the aftermath of a bad breakup and the ensuing vulnerability. He gives the video an emotional heavyweight while somehow seeming jovial. During the more upbeat parts, we see him goofily dancing through the streets. At the more dramatic moments, we witness his pain through sad–looking facial expressions or voicemail recordings about the breakup that interrupt the song.
Aside from the obvious emotional appeal, the video is visually stimulating as well. While dancing through the streets, he wears a bright red jacket that contrasts nicely with the bland, grey concrete. The contrast exaggerates his dance moves in a way that makes him all the more captivating. The end of the video shows Gus at the most stereotypical–looking party of all time featuring pretty lights, drinks, and everyone either dancing or laughing. Also a guest at the party is Gus's ex. The shots of the party and of the two characters dancing together are so compelling, as if you're in the room witnessing the romantic reconciliation yourself.
In the video for “Moodna, Once With Grace,” we're presented with the story of one of his romances. Dapperton sings and dances in front of a soft yellow background at points in the video. The more significant parts show objects on a light blue pedestal, paired with dates and captions of events. The objects on the pedestals symbolize big moments in their relationship, successfully painting complete scenes. Although the video is pretty simple, it portrays the highs and lows of this relationship and provides poignant, heart–wrenching emotion. The video also shows the silliness of Dapperton that shines through in much of his work, such as his sporting a chicken costume while wearing a depressed look or using a unicorn piñata to represent his girlfriend's birthday.
After watching these videos, his songs may feel incomplete without them. He works closely with filmmaker Matthew Dillon Cohen, another young artist, who Dapperton says is one of the few other people who really understands his artistic vision. As these artists continue to collaborate, we're excited for more footage that will give us further peeks into Dapperton's psyche.
His artistry goes beyond his musical production; Gus Dapperton himself is quite a character. To give you some idea of how peculiar his style is: he has a bowl cut—but he actually pulls it off. His wardrobe is filled with bright colors and throwback clothing, while he also wears these big glasses that cover his face. At first glance, he dresses kind of like a cliche '80s nerd, but he finds a way to make it look cool.
As he described in a recent Vogue interview, “I definitely love ’80s and ’90s stuff, and I wear a lot of ’90s Swinger revival shirts. I’ve also always really liked flood pants, where you can see your socks and shoes, so that’s the fit I look for. And I wear a lot of old ’90s hypebeast stuff like Nike and Tommy Hilfiger . . . most of it’s thrifted.”
On the cover of his EP, Yellow and Such, he rocks a faded pink sweatshirt with his bowl cut on clear display. If you look closely, you can see his nails are painted and he’s wearing a pearl earring, an uncommon move for a male artist. In other pictures of him, he wears eye shadow as well. These unconventional style moves are part of what makes Dapperton so intriguing. He has an unabashed confidence that allows him to fully express himself, regardless of what’s typically done.
Only 20, his career has yet to takeoff, but his truly original individuality and his incredible music is bound to get him more publicity. He has only two songs with a million–plus listens on Spotify, but he’s already beginning to get the attention he deserves. As previously mentioned, he recently did an interview and a video with Vogue to discuss his four–song EP.
In this video, while lying on a pool float in a pink, California–casual shirt, he says, “I think when you express a true interpretation of yourself, then life becomes beautiful.”
This attitude proves true in everything he does, as he shows himself unafraid to embrace a musical or fashion style that many would describe as unorthodox. That willingness has me excited to hear whatever he releases in the coming months and should have you going to listen to everything he’s produced, watching all his videos, and reading all his interviews.