Yungblud interview: "I'm not here to be a f*cking pop star, I'm here to destroy the pedestal and uplift the individual"
"Yungblud is a sub-culture, if you think it's not at this point, you're ignorant."
You can never accuse Dominic Harrison of not getting right to the heart of the matter. When we meet to discuss his tight and compact self-titled third studio album, the artist known as Yungblud is buzzing to talk about...welll...everything.
As a body of work, Yungblud really goes there. Of course, there's a lot of talk about dismantling what society thinks about you and doing things your own way but this is also the first Yungblud album to really take a look at Yungblud himself.
I Cry 2, the album's sixth track, is proof enough of this. A sparse, electronica-inspired song that carries a heavy influence of the lo-fi goth-pop of Charli XCX's debut record, True Romance.
"Everybody online keeps saying I'm not really gay," the second verse goes, "I'll start dating men when they go to therapy." Advice that, really, we should all listen to.
After reaching Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart with Weird! in 2020, you would be forgiven to expect this to be the moment that Yungblud throws caution to the wind and embraces a more commercial style. But think again.
"I'm not here to be a f*cking pop star," he enthuses. "Or suck off the industry. I'm here to destroy the pedestal and uplift the individual."
He may believe that, sincerely so, but YUNGBLUD is brimming with a volatile, chaotic energy that, yes, does contain some undeniably great pop songs - chief among them, The Cure sampling Tissues, which sounds destined at this point to be a hit, if he wants it to be.
Nevertheless, it's a very exciting time to be Yungblud right now - with the album currently pacing to debut at Number 1 in the UK, the movement Dominic Harrison has created from himself for other people has movement. The story of Yungblud is two-fold; it's about him, but it's not. Really, it's about everyone else around him. It's about you.
Hi Dom! It's been two years since your last album - Weird! which became your first Number 1 album in the UK - how long have you been working on the follow-up?
I started working on it almost immediately after Weird! went to Number 1 and there was all this "commercial success" in inverted commas, whatever that means. I had the chance to work in any studio with any writers, anything I f*cking wanted. And that just wasn't me, man. I mean, I went [into those rooms] and these producers were all like "oh, you're doing that rock thing."
Like, what do you mean "that rock thing?!" It was all very fake. It felt fake. So I ended up making the album in my mate's bedroom. We started in January, and we'd finished by February and now it's coming out. You can't choose what an album sounds like, it's almost got to choose you.
It's interesting you say that because you have been at the forefront of the return of rock as a chart music force; along with Olivia Rodrigo and Willow, but of course the thing about punk at the beginning was, it was never meant to be this commercial thing, it just happened organically
That's why when people slag me off, I'm like - well I didn't mean for this to happen! What the f*ck am I supposed to do about it? I think that was the hardest thing for me; the mainstream! Because Yungblud is a sub-culture. If you think it's not at this point, you're ignorant. We all look the same, we're all part of the same family and we came here for a reason.
When you build that on a foundation and then the mainstream gets a look in, it starts to be hated and twisted and judged and looked at as inauthentic, like you're not telling the truth. Last year was my time for that, you know. To get slapped down. Every time I speak to big artists [they've all gone through it]. It's almost part of growing up as an artist.
Like you said, Yungblud is not just you, is it? It's the world you've built around this persona, but it's also interesting that you named the album Yungblud, because it's actually your most personal work. It's not just confessional, it's really, really dark and funny
Yungblud gave me the opportunity to open my chest and show my f*cking true self to the world. It's like protection, a shield. No-one could say anything about me that would affect me anymore. Even in school, Yungblud was there for me the whole time. It's the only thing that's ever made sense to me.
You can't figure out what it means in terms of definition, because trying to define it is inherently flawed. Yungblud is the anti-definition. You can lie about a feeling, or an energy, but in the moment that they present themselves...they're not lying. It's not an album, this woe-is-me rockstar story. It's a metaphor.
Speaking of showing your true self - one of the best songs on the album, ICry2, really takes the conversation to places you've neve taken it before
Everyone loves that song! It's crazy. It's so interesting, isn't it? It's so experimental, sound wise. For me, I think it's the most Yungblud song ever.
Those bits of electronica on your vocals in the hook really, really remind me of Charli XCX's True Romance
Absolutely. For me, when I reference Charli XCX or The 1975, I've never really told the world how much that music means to me, or how much I love Matty or Charli. I'm paying homage to them, in the way Matty was to Thom Yorke. Those albums [The 1975 and True Romance] are great British music. To me, this isn't a song, it's a train of thought.
The line about not dating men until they go to therapy is hilarious, also
That line is going to get me in so much trouble! Everyone online was talking about my sexuality and it's such a British line, that makes me roll my eyes. You want me to define myself? I'll define myself when this f*cking happens.
We also have to talk about the biggest banger on the record - Tissues, it samples The Cure's Close To Me, and you actually spoke to Robert Smith about clearing the sample, right?
That songs got a little bit of magic, I think that's going to be the Yungblud song that will spread across the world. I f*cking love The Cure, I love David Bowie, I love Footloose. It just feels euphoric.
I sent Robert Smith an e-mail [about clearing the sample from Close To Me]. Dude, I was shitting myself. Robert Smith is literally the reason why I wear eye-liner. He sent [a message] straight back to me, saying I think it's brilliant and I love what you stand for. And the sample is cleared, use it. It was a true moment.
Before we leave you go, you had a very unique way of celebrating your first Number 1 album in the UK in 2020 - you melted down your Official Number 1 Album award into 150 safety pins. If Yungblud gets to Number 1, please warn us what your plans are!
It will be something mental. I might make them into golden ducks or summit. Guys at Official Charts, make sure you have the furnace ready!
YUNGBLUD is out now via Geffen/Polydor.
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