When Two Feet-a.k.a. the Harlem-raised vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Bill Dess-uploaded the smoldering “Go Fuck Yourself’ to SoundCloud in 2016, he had no idea life was about to change. Within days, the jazz-tinted, electro-contorted song had amassed over 8 million streams and set the stage for Two Feet’s debut EP, First Steps. That release, which arrived several months later, drew attention from DJs and influential music curators, and landed Dess a deal with Republic Records.
Although both the First Steps EP and 2017’s Momentum EP drew comparisons to Chet Faker, Darkside and Glass Animals, this work can’t be pigeonholed into one specific genre. Two Feet’s songs are atmospheric and moody, courtesy of spacious arrangements, midnight-hued production and sinewy, hip-hop-tinged electronic beats. Haunted guitar licks with blues and jazz accents add backbone, and exacerbate the mournful undertones of Dess’ smoky, conspiratorial voice. Two Feet songs are the soundtrack for staying up late into the night, aching to figure out how to remedy heartbreak, anxiety and uncertainty.
Today, it’s safe to say Dess is leveraging every bit of momentum to his advantage. Two Feet’s songs have millions of streams across Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud-his latest single, the soulful number “I Feel Like I’m Drowning,” has reached 1.3 million plays on Spotify alone in less than a month. He’s performed at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and SXSW, and his first U.S. headlining tour is slated for early 2018.
From a musical standpoint, Dess is also eager to continue experimenting. He’s itching to make a full-length record-the idea of having 12 or 13 songs to stretch out and be creative is enormously appealing-and honing his ability to combine his unique, evocative textures with pop structures. Judging by Dess’ track record to date, expect nothing short of intriguing, inventive results.
“I’m interested in figuring out a way of making pop music that’s not only more original, but also honest,” he says. “I feel maybe ten years ago-or maybe even five years ago-my project wouldn’t have worked. But now it feels kind of like a big experiment that we’re about to try out.”