Alt-pop icon Gus Dapperton's vast and ambitious new album Henge builds a new world, tugging the listeners between night and day, socializing and solitude. Collaborators include Cruel Santino, Ocean Vuong, and BENEE.
With nearly two billion collective streams across his career, the Warwick, NY native constructed the album with the concept of entering an underworld as the sun goes down and trying to get home before dawn… or risk being stuck in a time loop. Sonically the album delivers a contemporary eclectic sprawl, at times landing between '80s new-wave and '70s funk. The term “henge” refers to what is known as “Manhattanhenge,” which is a natural phenomenon that occurs twice a year in New York City, when the setting sun aligns perfectly with the east-west streets of Manhattan, creating a spectacular view of the sun's disc as it appears to sit perfectly atop the buildings that line the streets.
Gus Dapperton has always been obsessed with building new worlds. It’s been part of his passion since he started making songs in GarageBand, a creator’s mindset that eventually shaped two independent albums of defiantly original alt-pop. “Supalonely,” his collaboration with New Zealand singer-songwriter BENEE, went viral during lockdown in 2020 and amassed more than one billion streams on its way to becoming a double-platinum hit. “It gave me and other indie artists credibility,” he says. “It showed that alt-pop songs can be massive.”
Now signed to Warner Records, he goes even further on his new project, Henge, steeping himself in bold details and immersive songwriting to conjure a twilight world that permanently hovers between sunset and sunrise over the course of 11 mercurial songs. Instead of starting with the music, Dapperton plotted out moods and titles and worked backward, taking inspiration from film scores, ’80s inspired new wave, and ’70s funk. While the album’s scope is vast and ambitious, Dapperton’s music maintains the intimacy that made his previous offerings so resonant. At its core, the album is a way of processing a post-lockdown world. “I think most people can relate to wanting change and chaos, but also monotony and protection,” he says of the album’s tug-of-war between night and day, socializing and solitude. “I’m always internally battling those two sides.”