Brendan Rice, more popularly known as Gus Dapperton, still doesn’t know what he’s going to be for Halloween. The 22-year-old bedroom pop artist is just starting the West Coast stretch of his newest tour, and with a Halloween show scheduled in Florida soon, Rice has more than a few things to piece together.
“We always think we’re gonna have a sick costume and then we, like, forget something,” Rice said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “I think we’ll try our best this year.”
For this artist, however, “our best” is otherworldly at its core — Rice’s exploration in music and other artistic realms has launched him into a creative atmosphere.
Rice’s passion for music production started rather early — in an eighth grade music class, to be specific, when GarageBand became the artist’s go-to program. But it wasn’t until late high school that Rice really began pursuing his passions on a more thought-out level.
Rice spent his first two years after high school studying music technology at Pennsylvania’s Drexel University. “My parents really wanted me to go to school, and I definitely needed more time pursuing music until I could pursue it full time,” Rice said. “It wasn’t really what I was hoping for.”
While the musician enjoyed taking general education classes and playing house shows in his scholastic era, he found the competitive nature facilitated by the music department to be stifling — no matter the amount of courses he took on the Beatles.
But no time has been wasted. Since his collegiate departure, and even before, Rice has been releasing music reflective of his experience with adolescence and growing into himself.
“I think some songs stuck with me in very important times of rapid growth in my childhood that I’ll never be able to experience again,” Rice explained. “Your youth is just something that’s more fragile and whatnot — there’s definitely a lot of things that’ll stick with me forever because of that.”
While living in Philadelphia, Rice was exposed to different genres of electronic music all thanks to his DJing housemates. While it wasn’t originally his niche of choice, being immersed in club culture and going out dancing helped widen his perspective.
“I never really was into that very robotic, trance-like music because I didn’t understand,” Rice said. “I really like things that are musical, but it’s almost like … it’s not supposed to be musical — there’s a different effect that it has.”
This study led to the production of his newest EP, In Passing 001, with collaborator B. Hayes — released just last month. What Rice called a “fun experimental project” benefited the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York. “I just thought it was such an inspirational charity and it just inspired me in general,” Rice said. “That kind of sparked (the project).”
The colorful EP was released following Gus Dapperton’s first full-length album, Where Polly People Go To Read, which dropped this past spring. While the album received mixed reviews online, this release still garnered a broader fan base for the young artist. But regardless of the millions of streams and media attention, Rice doesn’t pay too much attention to the fame.
“I don’t really feel like I need to navigate it,” Rice said. “It doesn’t really feel like that at all to me, but I think I’m a little naive to it sometimes … I’d say I kind of just treat everything how I always have and it feels like, normal.”
And considering Rice carried out the phone interview comfortably from his apartment bedroom while he went about his morning, it seems like the fame truly isn’t fazing this breakout star. “I was always really bad at, like, social interactions and I was always quite an introvert,” Rice explained. “I still very much am an introvert — in order to be more extroverted, I have to have a certain amount of time to myself.”
But based on Rice’s typical fashion choices when he goes onstage as Gus Dapperton, it would be easy to assume the human behind the clothes was outgoing in spirit and creative in nature. Rice is the aesthetic aficionado the indie kids all aspire to be, and as he said, this outward expression largely comes from the artist’s constant need for change.
“I’ll wear the same jeans and like the same outfit for a week and then I’ll just never wear it again,” Rice said. “I always say (my style) is also inspired by my childhood. I liked how things fit me when I was like, a toddler.”
When Rice isn’t spending his time running around the world on tour, catching up on new music (like Whitney and FKA Twigs) or dyeing his hair — he’s making sure to be doing something different from the last time. And between all of this, he’s still making time to plan a Halloween costume.
“I feel like I sort of have a mission that I need to accomplish,” Rice said. “I don’t really know what it is yet.” And while it’s hard to make time at 22 to figure everything out, one thing’s for sure: He’s got a pretty good start.