A Conversation with Gus Dapperton: The Passionate 20-Year-Old Dream Pop Artist from New York
Interview by Emily Muller
Although Gus Dapperton began making music at the age of eight, he emerged as a prevalent artist in the alternative scene after the release of his song “I’m Just Snacking.” With millions of views on YouTube and a look that mirrors popstars of ages past, his calm and humble demeanor caught me by surprise. I had the chance to speak with Gus in Chicago at the very first stop of his first ever tour. Through the course of our conversation I found that Gus is a passionate and successful musician, but that he refreshingly continues to have the same hopes and fears as any other twenty-year-old.
Emily Muller: So, this is your first show of your first tour. Are you nervous or are you excited?
Gus Dapperton: I’m excited. I haven’t been that nervous because I haven’t had too much time to think about it prior. I was just focused on making other music and preparing, but now that I’m here I’m just super excited. I haven’t played anywhere besides New York and Philly so now I know almost no one and it’s like a pure audience that wants to come see me perform, as opposed to friends and family.
EM: That’s a really good way to go into it.
EM: I was watching your YouTube Līv set and I was super struck by how young everyone in your band seems. How have you grown together as musicians?
GD: Well we’re all best friends from back home. My drummer has been my best friend since sixth grade. He actually quit drumming somewhere along the line and I was like “dude we have to start playing again,”. My bassist, Ian, was two grades younger than us but we all skated together and we were just like “we need a bassist” and he’s a good friend of ours. And then the keyboardist is my sister, and she’s only seventeen.
EM: What is it like traveling with your sister?
GD: We’re best friends so it’s just like constant humor. With everyone it’s constant humor. It’s really fun.
EM: Do you have any advice for other young musicians?
GD: I guess when you’re coming out and you’re making music, talk to people that you trust. There are a lot of people that you meet that seem trustworthy but when it comes down to it you just have to go with the unbiased decisions and advice from your friends and family. That’s probably always been my biggest issue. It’s hard to trust people and it’s really important that you do to talk to the people that you trust.
EM: Do you think that it’s hard to trust people in the music industry in particular or just in general?
GD: I think in general but, I mean, the music industry is sadly competitive.
EM: What has it been like going into that competition?
GD: I mean it’s not really competition between artists, but it’s a super business type world. I mean, I’ve been okay. I just make my music and I put it out there. I would like to do it as an independent artist for as long as I can. I’ve just always done it by myself so I’d like to continue doing it that way.
EM: It’s good to have that creative control.
GD: Yeah, yeah exactly.
EM: So you recently released “Prune, You Talk Funny” and it has over a million views on YouTube. Did you anticipate that success?
GD: I kind of did anticipate it because the last one did well and I gained a lot of fans from that last video, “I’m Just Snacking”. I was just super proud of this video. Me and my director, spent a lot of time working on it and everyone who worked on the project was super passionate about it. I guess I was more hoping. I didn’t really anticipate it but I was hoping that it would reach similar success as the last one.
EM: Absolutely. And I’ve noticed your videos have a very kind of film vibe which I think is wonderful. I was wondering, are there any movies or pieces of art that you take inspiration from?
GD: Yeah I love film and I see like every new movie that comes out. Nowadays I’m a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson. He just did this new movie called The Phantom Thread that I really liked. Just a bunch of movies and a bunch of directors. I also like Wes Anderson and Spike Jones.
EM: So if there was a movie that came out about the life of Gus, who would you want to play you?
GD: Paul Daniel.
EM: Nice. Good choice, good choice. And I was looking through the comments on some more of your videos, so do you have any advice for people that want to dance like you or any signature moves that they could copy?
GD: I love to dance and more particularly two summers ago me and my friend Matt started going out to clubs just to dance. We would go find good clubs that had disco music, like nothing crazy, just like good disco dance music and we started dancing like three times a week. Just going out and dancing. And I guess that kind of like translated in the “I’m Just Snacking” video and since we got a good reaction from that we just decided to, you know, keep taking it. I do a couple things I don’t really know how to describe it. It kind of all evolves from this one move called - I don’t know what it’s called. It’s kind of just like twisting your feet back and forth but I wouldn’t really know how to describe it. I also, you know, try to incorporate moonwalk type things.
EM: I’ll look for it at the show tonight.
GD: And vogueing a little bit with the hands.
EM: Vogueing, yeah. You’ve gotta do it, gotta get that Madonna.
GD: Yeah, yeah exactly.
EM: Okay and then what can we expect music-wise from you in 2018?
GD: I’m gonna hopefully put out another four-song EP. I’m not really sure on the specifications of it yet but “Prune, You Talk Funny” will be on that. I think “Prune, You Talk Funny” will be the only video on it. We might do a humor promo video for the EP, but yeah, it’s gonna be another four songs. It’s a little bit more live instrument based than the last one. But yeah that’s what I’m working on next.
EM: Nice! Any other New Year's resolutions?
GD: I had a good one - I need to be more open with people, and it’s not even really a resolution it’s kind of like “ah man I need to work on that,”. I hold things in and I don’t talk about them and then they kind of build up in a bad way so that’s my one resolution I think.
EM: I get that! Alright, thank you so much for chatting with me. It was awesome.
GD: Yeah, thank you so much!
If you’re interested in supporting MyMusicRx, you can purchase a signed polaroid of Gus here; all proceeds will go to the charity. Listen to the Yellow and Such EP here.