ONE WEEK BEFORE MY INTERVIEW WITH YUNGBLUD, I WAS PROBABLY HAVING ONE OF THE WORST WEEKS I HAD SINCE THE START OF MY SECOND QUARANTINE. I WAS FEELING LONELIER THAN EVER, UNABLE TO EXPRESS THE WIDE RANGE OF MY FEELINGS, DOUBTS AND ANXIETY TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
—By Marie-Ève Venne
This album was like entering into a space. A space where someone was finally expressing through his music all I had kept buried inside over the last months. And for a moment, 38 minutes more precisely, I felt at peace.
Fast forward to the day of the interview, getting ready in front of my screen to ask all my questions to the artist responsible for making me feels so many emotions all at once.
Born Dominic Harrison in 1997, the young singer has risen quickly to become a leader of Gen Z, with his politically inclined lyrics and rebellious, yet authentic vibe. Known for his gender-bending style, Yungblud has built an impressive fanbase over the last two years.
His anticipated sophomore album, Weird! is his most emotionally complex body of work to date. He recorded it at studios in London and Los Angeles with Chris Greatti (Grimes), Zakk Cervini (Bishop Briggs, Machine Gun Kelly) and another frequent collaborator, Matt Schwartz (Cold War Kids, Massive Attack).
DTK: Thank you for your time today. I am actually super excited for this interview, because I was scrolling through Instagram last night, and I saw that you were about to drop a brand-new song out of the blue with Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker named ‘Actin Like That’. Yungblud: Yeah, our relationship is so spontaneous and so fun like that. We recorded the song in February. This month is a little bit blurry to be honest. It was before Coronavirus, and the lockdown and stuff. We were all like drunk for a month. So, we kind of all got together and recorded the song on a random night. And then we were like, this is cool. Let’s get it mixed. And then we were like, fuck it, let’s release it.
Not even a few days ago, you also released a videoclip for your song Mars, which is such a powerful and beautiful song about someone who is transgender and looking for their place in the world. How did you come up with the inspiration for it? I mean, the story is probably one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever heard. It’s literally about a fan of mine in Maryland and it was kind of a story that reinvented every single feeling I think I’ve ever felt. So, the video needed to be a resemblance of the defiance of our generation. Because we’re never going to be anything other than ourselves. And I think our generation all we care about is equality. And being united. Because being divided is such an old way of thinking.
Yeah, exactly. It feels like people are now sticking together and coming up with ideas to feel accepted as a whole. Exactly. We just want people to be united. You want your mate to feel equal. You want the person on the street to feel equal. And I loved directing the video for Mars because the cast shared their own battles, the ones they face every day. Even if this song was specifically written about trans rights, everyone in the video brought on set a battle they have to face every day. Against racial inequality or sexual harassment or sexual assault. And it was just this video about people sharing their truth. It wasn’t about me. I think music can have such a fucking agenda right now. And I don’t want to write music for motive. I want to write music for a reason.
“I CAN’T SLEEP BUT THIS TIME, I’VE GOT JESUS ON MY MIND, AND EVERYBODY SEEMS TO LIKE HIM”.
You said that your album is a coming out of age album. But while listening to it for the first time, I also felt like it was a safe space for all the people who are looking for their place in the world. How did you come up with all these powerful songs? I finally found somewhere where I could belong. In a fan base, in a safe space, like you said. I finally found somewhere where I could exist without judgment. And when you figure out you belong somewhere, it’s like you can finally breathe and that you’re like, holy shit, I can be myself without being judged. And that’s what I wanted when I was younger and that’s what this album is about.
My first album was so angry because no one got me. No one wanted to get me or care a little. My first album was like, Is there anyone out there? But oh boy, there was actually a lot of people out there like me. So, I went out there and I met every kid from every corner of every color of every shape and from every kind of sexuality. And they redefined every single thing for me and made me feel heard and loved and safe and wanted. So, when I talk about Yungblud, it is not only about me. It is you, Yungblud is Marie in Canada, Yungblud is Fred in Doncaster and Yungblud is Alex in Sydney. Yungblud is everyone.
It shows that you’re extremely close with your fans. You have this connection with them and it’s beautiful. But with covid and all, how does it feel to not be able to perform in front of them and to go on the road to promote your album? You know, just because we can’t talk to each other right now, doesn’t mean we can’t feel each other. I honestly feel so fulfilled artistically. I feel so excited. I feel so happy to put this album out there. I want this album to be about the weird-ish year of our lives. In terms of figuring out our identity, our gender, our sexuality, our happiness, our sadness, what love means to us, what heartbreak means to us. I wanted this album to be so truthful. And a friend that stays with you a long time. I just want to create a community. Even from a distance.
You seem like really at peace right now. How does it feel to look back at everything that happened since you started working on your album and to know that it is about to finally be released? The idea for Weird came up after the weirdest craziest 18 months ever imaginable. I nearly lost my mom in a car accident. And we got really big, really quickly. People knew Yungblud everywhere, all over the world. And I fell in love. It was all over the internet. It didn’t turn out so great. But I don’t regret it. I had the best time and I learned so much about myself. We were also touring nonstop and I almost got everything I ever dreamed off. I was touring the world, playing sold out shows everywhere. But I still felt depressed and anxious and I couldn’t figure out why.
And came the time when we sold out our show at Brixton Academy. And if you rewind two years, me, my drummer, my guitar player, we were all living together in a two-rooms flat. And we would sit around a laptop and we would watch shows taking place there and dreaming of playing there one day. And it finally happened and it was fucking insane. It was a lot.
And my mom, my mama said to me, you seem so checked out. But we carried on, partying and doing whatever. One night, I went home with someone, and then I left at 4am, because I just couldn’t sleep. And I went to the top of Primrose Hill, a hill in London, a massive hill where you can see all over the city. And I just wrote this poem that would become my song Weird. “I can’t sleep but this time, I’ve got Jesus on my mind, and everybody seems to like him”. And like in that moment, I knew what the album was going to be about. I knew it was going to be this coming out of age record. About overcoming obstacles. It’s about overcoming pain, but staying united and staying free.
-Weird! by Yungblud is out now and available on all digital platforms.