At first glance, Gus Dapperton looks like he just stepped out of the 80’s. Decked out in floodpants, vintage button downs and his iconic bowl cut – this twenty something from Warwick, New York is coming into his own. Gus might have just copped his first fake ID, but his dreamy EP Yellow & Such is an testament to making one’s vision a reality. In its entirety, the impressively layered production is short and sweet: 14 minutes of effervescent melodies, clean, washed out guitar and smooth segues that come together like a dream. The EP explores love and heartache, with lyrics that resonate.
We sat down with Gus at his Toronto show to ask him a few questions about his new Yellow & Such EP and where he got those infamous dance moves.
IX: Gus! It's super sweet to meet you. You came out with a few singles this past year and BAM! Yellow & Such was born. There’s talk about a music contest you won in middle school that turned you onto songwriting and production. I have to ask… What was that song about?
Gus Dapperton: The song was a pop song and I think it was called Shock like an Eel. I spent hours on it. I don’t know if winning for me meant, “ I should do music now” but when we won the contest, me and my friends went in on it.
IX: Fast forward to last year, you gained momentum with tracks like Moodna, Once With Grace and dropped your first EP back in August. The interweb is coining your sound as 80’s influenced, new wave, dream pop. What do you love most about the 80’s and why do you think you have this perception?
Gus Dapperton: I listen to a lot of 80’s new wave bands: The Smiths, Depeche Mode, New Order, Joy Division and a lot of 60’s rock. Those are my two biggest influences as far as sound goes. I’ve been describing it as 80’s influenced pop because I use a lot of sounds from the 80’s; my clean guitar – kinda washed out – synthesizers and stuff. I described it as dream pop a couple years ago, but now everyone uses that term so I’m trying to come up with something else.
IX: What is it about heartache narratives and cinema that inspires your music?
Gus Dapperton: Love is a very powerful feeling and another powerful feeling is tragedy. When you combine the two, it’s an explosion of feelings you can’t wrap your head around. It sheds light on reality. It’s the strongest feelings to get my words onto paper. When dealing with those things, making music is the easiest way to put that energy into something else. Once I put it into something else, it’s not in me anymore and I feel relieved. I’m also a big fan of film and I think visuals are an important part of art as a whole. Although I’m a musician, I like to portray my songs visually and put them in an atmosphere that people can see in their head when they listen to my songs. I watch every new movie that comes out and I love the combination of original soundtracks and film.
IX: Talk to me about the new EP. Where did the name Yellow & Such come from?
Gus Dapperton: When I was writing the album, I was really inspired by the combination of primary colours: red, yellow and blue. My favorite colour is yellow and I used it to highlight a time period in my life where I was super consumed by those colours. I have pictures on my wall when I’m making music that are red, yellow, blue, and similar tones, they stimulate me creatively.
IX: The visuals for your album definitely complement the dreamy, effervescent sound that rings through it. How did you meet your music video director, Matthew Dillon Cohen?
Gus Dapperton: Back when I wanted to do a music video for Faceless, my team was looking for directors and we met Matthew when he was just getting into directing. He showed me a treatment, and based on his photography and vision… I knew he was the guy. He killed it. We produced ‘Moodna’ and I ended up moving into his New York apartment for the summer. We had this moment where I was in the shower and he played a Metronomy song called “A Thing For Me” and we just became best friends. I don’t think a lot of people know Metronomy but they’re the best band, so, yeah.
IX: Pure synergy – that's what it's all about! I noticed you’ve been working with Barbara Ferriera (@barbienox). She made an appearance in your music video for Prune, You Talk Funny. How did you meet?
Gus Dapperton: I used to upload demos to my Soundcloud privately and put a picture of someone I was infatuated with as the cover. There was like, 3 songs in a row that I put Barbie Ferriera. So, I’m uploading my demos. One night I was out at a club and saw her. I was like, “I love her she’s so cool lol”. She was much cooler than me, obviously. I was talking about it to Matthew later and our DJ friend turned out to be her neighbor back when they both lived in Harlem. The DJ was talking to her one day and showed her a couple videos (I didn’t know he was doing this). He mentioned I was using her pictures, then she DM’d me, I invited her to one of my shows and we started hanging out and became friends.
IX: Your dance moves are pretty infamous. How did you learn to dance?
Gus Dapperton: Dancing used to make me nervous. When I lived with Matthew, I got a fake ID and we started going out every night we could, to dance. There’s a bunch of good spots that play disco music in New York. We started dancing a whole lot and I developed a particular… movement. I watch a lot of Michael Jackson videos (s/o Billie Jean) and draw inspiration from other dancers like this girl Chela from Australia. I learned all her choreography.
IX: So pretty much, you hit the dance floors of New York and a star was born lol. What’s your favorite place to dance in New York?
Gus Dapperton: I was trying to keep it low key, but it’s a spot called Black Flamingo. They always have OG DJs. Once, they had Danny Krivit and no one was there dancing but me and my homies. This DJ is legendary and he was just chilling, DJing, hitting a cowbell and it was the craziest ever.
IX: That’s legendary. Adding Black Flamingo to our bucket list. Let’s do a quick game of fill-in-the-blanks and then we’ll wrap up! The theme song of my life is…
Gus Dapperton: “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers
IX: Dance or…
Gus Dapperton: Leave, I guess. Not “go home”, just leave.
IX: Major dream collab is…
Gus Dapperton: Paul Dano. He’s my favorite actor, I’d like to work with him someday.
IX: Shake it like a…
Gus Dapperton: Latin Percussion shaker. Specifically, Latin Percussion.
Listen to Gus's EP Yellow & Such below and check out his tour dates here.