Penn Badgley on His Music and Why Dan Being Gossip Girl 'Doesn't Make Sense'
"It wouldn't have made sense for anybody. Gossip Girl doesn't make sense!" the MOTHXR lead singer tells PEOPLE, laughing
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PEOPLE caught up with Penn Badgley on Wednesday night at the De Nolet presented by Ketel One Vodka event in New York City, where he performed with his band, MOTHXR, as guests sipped on Ketel One cocktails including the 1691, Chamakay, the Brooklyn Easy and Not for Nuthin’.
We asked the question that’s been nagging fans of the glitzy teen drama ever since it went off the air in 2012: How could Dan Humphrey have been the anonymous blogger torturing everybody’s favorite Upper East Siders for six seasons?
“It doesn’t make sense at all. It wouldn’t have made sense for anybody. Gossip Girl doesn’t make sense!” he said, laughing.
“But no, it made enough sense. He was a writer,” Badgley conceded.
[IMAGE “2” “” “std” ]These days, the 28-year-old is focused on a passion that would have made his TV character’s dad proud: music. He described MOTHXR’s sound as “somewhere between DIY – do it yourself – punk production aesthetic, with like new wave R&B,” naming influences like LCD Soundsystem, the Beastie Boys and Arthur Russell. He called their improvised songwriting “meticulous but totally spontaneous.”
[IMAGE “2” “” “std” ]Along with Simon Oscroft, Darren Will and Jimmy Giannopoulos, Badgley has quietly shed his CW image to become a bona fide indie artist. The Brooklyn-based band started as “an art project,” Oscroft told PEOPLE, among friends, and they record their jam sessions straight into a laptop, releasing their songs on iTunes, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify and even vinyl.
They filmed the music video for “Easy,” arguably their most popular song, in Oscroft’s apartment: Model Karina Trizotti stands in front of the camera with a cigarette between her lips, posing as if she’s on a photo shoot. The final product is the first and only take, and writing the single itself was “done in a day, basically,” Badgley said. The video, uploaded to YouTube last June, has almost 200,000 views, and the song sat at the Billboard and Twitter Emerging Artist list’s No. 1 spot earlier this week.
“That video, it has a surprising depth to it that none of us could have anticipated, and I think that also reflects the way we create music,” Badgley explained. “Because of just the way we’re all constantly involved in other projects, we’ve never had a lot of time to spend, and it just comes together.
“But I think that’s the best way to be in the creative process. The writing can kind of come through you, and you don’t take too much time to judge it, you just kind of go, you know? And then at the end of the day, you might have something that’s really worthwhile.”
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But back to Gossip Girl – what about all those times Dan supposedly threatened himself?
“Oh, I know,” he said with a smile. “I wish we could go into it and show how bipolar he would have been.”
“That would have been another show. That would be awesome, actually,” his bandmates chimed in. “Like a 40-year-old dude!”
Can you say “spin-off”? After all, it is Upfronts season.