Uproxx Music 20: Dende Makes Music For Unapologetic Lovers And ‘Wish You Were Here’ Is Proof Of That

There’s no shame in romance for Dende. The Texas singer has a knack for letting his heart bleed on records nor letting a teardrop or two fall if the moment pushes him to that level of emotion. Whether love is at his doorstep or on the other side of the world, Dende years for it in a way that few in today’s R&B landscape do. His music recalls when singers begged and pleaded in the rain – something Dende has done through his music (see “Better Than Him”).

Dende’s impressive run, which dates back to last year’s ’95 Civic and Before We Crash projects, continues with his latest EP, Wish You Were Here. Through three songs, Dende recalls the moments of longing during a trip to the UK that separated him from a lover. His irrefutable feelings about his partner on “Your Intro,” the sultry invitation for romance to fulfill a burning passion on “Slide” with J Warner, and the celebration of flawless chemistry on “Jigsaw” all make for a soul-stirring display of love at its peak.

Along with the release of Wish You Were Here, Uproxx also caught up with Dende to discuss his start in music, his love for Usher, and his commitment to defending Arby’s at all costs.

What is your earliest memory of music?

My earliest memory of music is sitting at the lunch table in elementary school. This girl, Danielle, and I had a sing-off. People around the table were judging it. I don’t remember what song she sang, but she could not sing for real, and I sang “U Don’t Have to Call” by Usher. They voted for her, and I went and cried in the hall.

Who inspired you to take music seriously?

Funny enough, the person who inspired me to take music seriously was Chance The Rapper. Senior year of high school I begged my parents to let me go to his concert. They were kind of strict, and Acid Rap had just come out. I was obsessed, and at the time, he was just preaching independence and working really hard at making music.

Do you know how to play an instrument? If so, which one? If not, which instrument do you want to learn how to play?

I actually know how to play a couple of instruments. I know how to play piano, guitar, & drums. I was in drumline all through high school and some of college. The instrument that I wanna learn how to play is the saxophone.

What was your first job?

My first job was at Kroger, a grocery store in Texas. I was a — I don’t know my official title, I think it was a cart getter? I’d go get the carts. Eventually, I became a bagger, and then I became a cashier.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession is my grandpa‘s rocking chair. It’s really not comfortable at all, but I love it. My dad gave it to me after his dad passed.

What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is probably not reaching the potential that I know that I have. I’d hate to not live up to the standards I hold myself to.

Who is on your R&B/rap/afrobeats Mt. Rushmore?

My R&B, Mount Rushmore, is as follows: BOOM! We got Usher, we got Luther Vandross, we got Brandy… I don’t know how many heads are on Mount Rushmore.

You get 24 hours to yourself to do anything you want, with unlimited resources: What are you doing? And spare no details!

Aight, I have 24 hours and unlimited resources let’s get it. First, I wake up, I look over to my left, and all I see is this nightstand and a lamp, and one of those old-school alarm clocks. The ones you still got a hit, but they were brown and they looked weird, but everybody’s grandma had them in their house, but that’s what I have. Then I look to the right, and all I see are those trays that people have bed-and-breakfast breakfast on. I have one of those and on that tray is just a mimosa and a cigar, it’s already lit, but it was just lit, and there’s nobody there.

So I sit there, I’m drinking this mimosa, I’m smoking a cigar in bed, and then the alarm goes off, and I smack the alarm, and I get out of bed. I get in my car, and in this timeline, I have a McLaren, and I drive that McLaren up to Six Flags, and I have a fast pass. I get on every ride five times. I return to my McLaren and drive to the movie theater. I love watching movies in the movie theater. I feel like it’s a dying art, and we need to appreciate it more. I watch every single one of the Harry Potter movies on the big screen in order, then I go home. When I get home I walk in, and there’s another mimosa and another cigar ready for me to go to bed. That’s what I’m doing for my 24 hours.

What are your three most used emojis?


What’s a feature you need to secure before you die?

Usher. I could die a happy man.

If you could appear in a future season of a current TV show, which one would it be and why?

It would be That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime! I love anime, and it’s basically all I watch. I’d love to see myself animated.

Which celebrity do you admire or respect for their personality and why?

The celebrity who I admire for their personality is probably gonna be Tyler, The Creator. I feel like he’s always just wanted to be himself authentically, and I pride myself on doing the exact same thing.

Share your opinion on something no one could ever change your mind about.

To be honest with you, I will never let the internet or anyone else convince me that Arby’s isn’t good because I feel like we’ve all been conditioned by Twitter to make this running joke that Arby’s is terrible. But every time I ask someone if they’ve ever eaten Arby’s or when the last time they ate it they either have never eaten it or they ate it when they were like eight years old. So I challenge everyone to go to your nearest Arby’s, go get a buffalo chicken slider and the curly fries and then shut the hell up.

What is the best song you’ve ever heard in your life and what do you love about it?

The best song I’ve ever heard is “Almost Doesn’t Count” by Brandy. That song is amazing. My favorite thing about it is that the first verse feels like a hook. It’s crazy, but it’s amazing. It’s such a well-written song, I love it.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform, and what’s a city you’re excited to perform in for the first time?

My favorite city to perform in so far is Atlanta because I love seeing all the black faces in the crowd, that makes me super happy. A city that I’m really excited to perform, and I have to do two of them, is gonna be DC and Toronto.

You are throwing a music festival. Give us the dream lineup of 5 artists that will perform with you and the location where it would be held.

So BOOM, my dream lineup, including myself, is going to be Lucky Daye, Usher, Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, and Avril Lavigne. This sounds like it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s because it doesn’t, and that’s OK and we’re gonna do this in Malibu on the beach.

What would you be doing now if it weren’t for music?

To be honest with you, I’d probably still be doing AC work. I got my HVAC license and it pays pretty well.

If you could see five years into the future or go five years into the past, which one would you pick and why?

I would see five years into the future simply because I don’t think living in the past leads to anything productive.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

I would tell my 18-year-old self to accept help quicker.

It’s 2050. The world hasn’t ended, and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

I’d like my music to be remembered as an impactful period in people’s lives. I remember what I was going through or where I was when I heard specific albums. I just wanna be able to be that for other people.

Wish You Were Here is out now via CXR. Find out more information here.