Sprofessed elf punk and anointed voice of a generation that Yungblud has hurt himself. The day before our interview, while sporting a pair of tight latex shorts, born man Dominic Harrison attempted a high kick move from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP video, pulling on his hamstring in the process. . Nor is it the only ailment that the 23-year-old suffers today. Before the release of his second pop-rock album adjacent to Anarchy, Weird !, he hasn’t been sleeping. It means his oversized energy, think Liam Gallagher via Skins pushed through a TikTok filter, has a certain extra flavor, not helped by our interview that took place in that strange moment between the national closings.
“When something important is going through my mind it just runs,” he says in his thick Doncaster accent, before collapsing his lanky frame into a too-small chair in the public relations office in central London. “I have ADHD and I only have a million ideas per minute that I just want to get out.”
Despite an impressive 8.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Harrison has yet to fully infiltrate the mainstream; His only dents in the UK Top 100 so far have been through collaborations with the likes of his ex-girlfriend Halsey (11 Minutes) and fellow furious traders Bring Me the Horizon (Obey), but that’s the point. From the beginning, Yungblud, he says, has focused on “representing the unrepresented” and creating a safe space for life’s so-called weirdos, a nod to one of his idols, Lady Gaga. His hyperactive songs, which swing between bubblegum pop, goth-tinged emo, and throat-wrenching rock, read like a checklist of modern pop tropes, tackling everything from mental health (medications) to sexual fluidity. (cotton candy) and, like, not listening to your parents (parents). Earlier this year, the London Evening Standard called him “the Generation Z poster boy,” while Dave Grohl has hailed him as the future of rock’n’roll. In Harrison, his fans have found a charismatic leader who can make even the most trivial bits of sound (at one point he describes TikTok as “punk as shit”) sound like a call to arms.
Known for his elaborate outfit, at this month’s MTV Europe music awards, where he won the award for best pushing act (best breakthrough), he performed in a white netball skirt and silver wings while suspended 20 feet in the air, today Harrison is relatively dressed. down in a crisp white shirt, studded black leather suspenders, and a cheery beret accented with a “blow me” badge. While her red brothel creepers match her hair and nails, they collide with her signature pink socks, a costume cue adopted by her legion of hardcore fans, the Black Hearts Club, named for two tattoos adorning the fingers. by Harrison. The relationship between the artist and the fanbase is symbiotic: “I don’t call them my fans, I call them my family because my connection to them is crazy,” he says seriously, and Harrison fills his lockdown with biweekly phone calls from fans and live performances. and a barrage of content shared with his 2.6 million Instagram followers.
“If you know Yungblud, the music is secondary,” says Harrison. “I don’t give a shit about hit records. All I care about is a culture, like the one Stone Roses or Green Day had, where I stand on stage and we come together because we are an integral part of each other’s lives. That’s what it’s all about, connecting with people. “He pauses uncommonly, his stretchy Joker-like face suddenly looking very serious.” If I don’t, I die. If I don’t, I want to kill myself again. I know it sucks that we all have this codependency, but we do. I am like them in the way they are like me. “
Growing up in Doncaster was both “great and fucking awful.” He was mercilessly bullied, even by his teachers, who would highlight him for his wardrobe choices in front of the class. “I had a lot of friends, but in a crowded room I felt totally alone,” he says. “I had my first suicidal thoughts when I was 13.” Her family, whom she describes as “The Waltons meets Peaky Blinders,” supported her. “My mother used to dye my hair when I was five and my father was a guitar dealer, so I had seen it all.” It was a house full of music; her grandfather (“a freaking madman”) acted with T Rex in the 1960s, while her maternal grandmother loved Rod Stewart so much that she told Harrison he was her boyfriend. “I’ve had that rock’n’roll sensibility all my life,” he smiles.
One of the most beautiful moments in Weird !, Love Song, touches on the domestic violence that she witnessed growing up. “My parents used to fight a lot and it was dark,” he says slowly. “They would fight and then be friends an hour later. So my idea of love was so skewed. “The escape came through a primal drive to act.” It was like, if I don’t belong in this real world, I’m going to build a world to belong to. Because I found Gaga, I found [Marilyn] Manson, I found Oasis. That’s all I wanted. I wanted a culture to belong to. I’d see Vivienne Westwood and I’d see [Sex] Pistols and I would see Kate Moss fucking and I would say, ‘I need to go to London. I needed to get out. “
The capital came calling for an unexpected route. Having fallen in love with ballet, at age 16 Harrison enrolled at ArtsEd, an independent school for the performing arts in Chiswick, west London. The Yungblud origin myth occasionally paints this as a rebel and runaway tale, but his parents were supportive and covered his £ 75-a-week rent for a share house. She lived with “a cat lady named Marge who made lasagna every night” and who disapproved of her nocturnal exploits: “I spent six days exploring my sexuality, exploring drugs, but she called Mom saying, ‘She hasn’t been home in days. ”Harrison would find a more willing roommate years later in the form of Lewis Capaldi.“ Every week Lewis and I would say, ‘Have you been signed yet?’; ‘Not you?’; ‘No.’ Every week. Just us getting into all kinds of trouble. I think we kept Stella Artois in business for those two years. “
After a stint on Bugsy Malone’s ensemble at the Lyric Hammersmith in 2015, Harrison dropped out of arts school, discouraged by its “paint by numbers” approach to creativity. He jumped from audition to audition, band to band, almost appearing on The Voice (resigned after a meeting), before playing Oz in Disney’s teen musical series. The shelter in 2016. “They had me for three seasons but I left after one,” he says. “They knew he was a punk.” His unwillingness to follow the rules is apparently governed by the spirit of Amy Winehouse. “She is an artist with whom I identify a lot. I could cry every time I talk about her, ”she says, her voice cracking. “I feel like she says, ‘Tell me the fucking truth.’ Just tell the truth because right now there is a fault. “
It was during a “dark month” in 2017 that Harrison completely focused on music and founded Yungblud, named after his managers because he was their youngest client on their list. The songs began to flow quickly: “I had all this anger and I had so many questions about the world.” He says he was initially rejected by the more cynical British record companies: “There were more: ‘Who is this idiot? Is it worth its salt? He’s just a shitty Arctic Monkeys, “which was fair,” so he went to Europe, then the US, and built his fanbase organically through a constant stream of singles and social media content. social.
His debut album, 2018’s 21st Century Liability, released after signing with Interscope, fueled years of frustration on a record that he now describes as “spoiled and angry.” With his art of Harrison in a straitjacket, he laid the groundwork for Yungblud’s forays into highly stylized “weirdo” cosplay, even as the music is closer to Busted than, say, Nirvana. “When people write about me as this person for the outsider, I think that’s very superficial,” he says. “I admit it started that way. But it goes much deeper than that; it’s not a slogan on a billboard. “
She cites the new song Mars, about a trans fan she met in Maryland whose family had rejected her, as an example of the power of the culture she has built around her. “She brought them to my show and her parents saw other people like her, and they saw the need to be together,” she says. “And then they took her for a hamburger and accepted her as their daughter. Killed me because something we did, not me, fuck me, something we have fact is to change someone’s life. Many trans people feel that they are not real and that they do not listen to them and that sucks. “
Like Harry Styles and Matty Healy, Harrison has been accused of queerbaiting; using aspects of queer culture in a performative way. He claims that his sexuality “changes every day” and his message has always been “if you are gay be proud of it, if you are bisexual be proud and if you don’t know it then be proud of that too”. If you had to define yourself, you are “probably pansexual” but would rather not be labeled. “Just because my last three relationships have been with girls doesn’t mean I didn’t have sex with a guy last night.”
One thing Harrison is sure of is what Yungblud stands for. A vehicle for your frustrations as a teenager, it has quickly become an ever-expanding movement, with the lyrics to Weird! often coming from conversations with fans. “I find them after every show, and I don’t do that for any other reason than to look into their eyes and say, ‘I’m just like you.’ Yes it’s weird! he can heal them the way he healed him, so much better. “I want this album to last 10 years,” he says, leaning forward. “I want it to be Back to Black, Urban Hymns, The Fame. I really believe that this album will be in people’s lives forever. “
It seems that the dream will have to wait.
Strange! comes out on December 4
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