Dende is a multi-dimensional artist from Katy, TX. Coming off a monumental year, the rising star recently performed at SXSW, released an EP, and is on his way to becoming one of the most influential voices out of Texas. And with all the music culture that surrounds Houston, Dende was directly inspired by the local music scene — quickly making a name for himself as a force to be reckoned with.


His recent EP, 2-Sided, explores another side of the artist, known for his fluidity between rap and R&B. Dende sat down with us in downtown Los Angeles to discuss his 2-Sided EP, his identity, and his goals.

When did you realize you could do music for a living?

I grew up with music. I grew up singing in the church, took piano lessons when I was a little kid. I was in a band all through middle school, high school, then some of college. I went to college on a vocal performance scholarship. I was making music my senior year of high school, it was just jokes. I wasn’t taking it seriously. 

But probably freshman year of college, I started taking it seriously. I still sucked, but I was taking it more seriously. It wasn’t until maybe three or four years ago I said I can actually probably do this. I don’t know what year it is right now, but maybe 2018/2019?

What were you doing before that?

A lot of odd jobs. I’ve worked on cars. I have my HVAC license for AC. I’ve worked at grocery stores. I’ve worked at a juice bar. I’ve worked on food trucks, done a whole lot of stuff. That’s what I was doing.

What’s the inspiration behind your name?

I’m a nerd, and I really love anime. Dende is from an anime I grew up watching, Dragon Ball Z. Dende’s a very overlooked character. He’s not really important, but he’s important to the show. Because the whole show is about the dragon balls, you can’t get your wish without the dragon balls. 

Dragon balls don’t exist if Dende doesn’t exist. He’s not very strong, but he’s really important to the show. I really like him, and he’s also a healer. Some of the stuff that I talk about in songs is healing. Besides the whole EP I put out about sex. [laughs]

You touch on your sexuality with this project, what does that mean for you?

Honestly at this point: if you don’t like something, I don’t really care. I made one song that’s about a man and another one is about a woman. I don’t know who exactly had the idea, but we had an idea to put on the cover of me getting pulled from both sides. This was not that much of a vulnerable type of music, but it does touch on the subject a little bit. Being like “yeah, this is who I am. This is how I am, I don’t really care if you like it. You’re going to like these songs though.” 

When did you come out as bisexual? 

I think 2020. So what happened to me was I came out to one person originally, then I said “I probably would never tell anybody else. I don’t need everybody to know.” Then I got really drunk on a Tuesday, and I tweeted it out at 3:00am. A long ass message, I said “even if you’re my family, if you don’t fuck with me anymore I don’t care. That’s your decision to make. This is who I am. This is who I always have been, this is who I’m always going to be.” So that’s that. 

The next day, I got calls from my dad. He was weird, but he wasn’t being a dick or anything. He wasn’t being mean, he was giggling. I’m like alright, you’re a grown man. My mom just had a real conversation with me. She said “I hope you didn’t think that I would care, because I still love you. You’re my son, I’ll always love you. I don’t care.” But yeah, it’s not really an issue. There’s been people that left my life, but it’ll be alright.

3 things you need in the studio at all times?

Incense, mood lighting, and Topo Chico. It’s a seltzer water. Mainly in Texas, but I think it’s everywhere.

What do you like to do when you’re not doing music?

I like to watch anime. I’ve been writing a lot of skits, I want to film those. I like to go to the pool, I love the water. Other than that, that’s all I do: watch anime, take care of my plants, make music. I don’t do anything else.