A few days after the release of his second album “weird!”, Dominic Harrison, a.k.a YUNGBLUD, sat with us to talk about his career, his projects for the future and his love for his generation!
How are you doing? How does it feel to have your album finally out to the world?
YUNGBLUD: I just can’t fucking believe that it’s out! It’s like an emotional journey that I’ve been on for ages. Now it’s out and people are loving it and finding their own journey within it. And I’m just screaming all the time, I’ve been like: “AAAAAAAAH” for 5 days, everyone’s sick of me in the house.
Were you nervous? Excited?
YUNGBLUD: Absolutely all of this, I was excited, I was frightened. I wanted to create an album for the weirdest years of our lives and help people with this album and tell the fucking truth. I think that’s why I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be because this album is just full of truth, it was my statement. If people disagree with me, cool, but this is what I believe and this is what I have to say. It’s about people that I’ve met all over the world and I wanted to write music for a reason, not on an agenda.
What are your fans saying about the album? And the media?
YUNGBLUD: I listen to the fans. I don’t really pay attention to some of the media because they can be mean and some of them are quite outdated. A lot of older rock magazines have all the old men with the beards and I don’t like it very much, because I think they’re just sitting at home watching all the internet porn. The problem is they can’t understand the connection between the artists and their audience because it’s different to the way it was before. But new things are happening now and we’re loving it. I have so much faith in my generation. This is why this album is fire. Because I feel them, and I feel so connected, and I feel like I belong somewhere. When you figure out you belong somewhere for the first time it’s like you got lungs. It’s like: “holy fuck I can finally breathe”.
Did you feel any pressure to do “better” than your first album, “21st Century Liability” (2018)?
YUNGBLUD: The thing about it is the label, the industry, they want you to do something more commercial and I just went: “fuck no” and I went like: “Imma just cut the head off of commerciality and put it in my fridge”. I wanted to write an album that was more diverse, more loud, with more statements, less filter, about my fanbase and about my people. Music can have such an agenda right now and a lot of music is saying nothing. A lot of music has about as much charisma as plain water.
I was heavily relating to David Bowie and Amy Winehouse with this record because they told the truth, always. Not everyone is gonna understand this album, because I don’t want everyone to understand it. If you are meant to understand this album, you will. And I think a lot of people could naively go: “let’s make music that is relatable to everyone”. I’m like: “no! I couldn’t be relatable to everyone because to be relatable is to relate to something that someone else might not”. That’s the whole point of it. All I wanted to do was exist in a culture that uplift people through who they are. And yeah, I might dress punky but this album’s got pop, rock, punk, electronic, swing. Everything within it.
Do you think you went out of your comfort zone for this album?
YUNGBLUD: Yes, absolutely, it was a million miles away from where I was comfortable. And that’s what is fun. When you think about “the freak show” and “teresa”, I’m playing with these big harmonies and these big times changes, and I just feel like a band was pulling back and I just ran the whole time. If you watch footage of me in the studio, I’m just mental and everyone thinks I’m on drugs but I’m not. I’m just on ADHD and fueled by passion, and faith, and excitement that I’ve got in my generation. I want my music to be a direct line out from my heart into someone’s heart going: “If you are out there and you are struggling or you are happy or you are sad, I hope this is amplifying that”.
You spent a few weeks in California where you filmed the music video for “weird!”. Did you record the whole album there?
YUNGBLUD: Yes I recorded the album in “Hollyweird” as I call it. I loved recording it there, it was one of the best times in my life, just me and my friends drunk for 6 weeks. There were no boundaries whatsoever which was fun because we just wanted to be creative. But I don’t really associate and I’m not very good in L.A. because I tell the truth a lot. If someone’s like: “do you like my jumper?” and I don’t, I’ll say it. And it’s not very “L.A. culture” like. It can be very false. I like cups of tea, pints of beer and fish and chips.
If you had to pick ONE song in the record, which one would it be?
YUNGBLUD: “mars”. Because of the story behind it (ed. “mars” is inspired by a transgender girl’s story who met YUNGBLUD on the 2018 Vans Warped Tour and told him that her parents weren’t accepting of her gender, but with the impact and support of the community, her parents started to accept her as their daughter). This story changed my existence, it made me proud to belong to this community that can have an effect on someone’s life like that.
You’ve co-produced some of your most recent music videos. How was the experience?
YUNGBLUD: I absolutely loved it. Oli Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon taught me a lot, because when I filmed “Obey” with him, he directed the video. And I’ve always wanted to do that but I couldn’t. You know what I’m like, you’ve been on this call with me for 10 minutes. There’s a billion of thoughts a minute a million miles an hour and I can never usually get them down and get people to understand what’s in my head. And this is why I have a hard time in the studio, I’m just running all the time and sometimes it’s overwhelming for people because I have so many ideas. But Oli storyboarded everything. And I watched him, and then I met a storyboarder. And I went like: “OK, if we storyboard this whole video then I can get my ideas out” and it inspired the fuck out of me. Now ever since then, I love it, it’s easy. I sit with the storyboarder, record the phone call, scream for an hour and then we get it.
You worked with Machine Gun Kelly on “acting like that”. How did it go? Was it something natural?
YUNGBLUD: It’s always natural, Kells [Machine Gun Kelly] is my best friend. That song is what Kells and my relationship sounds like. We are in the studio, with uncle Travis [Barker], and we go mental, then we turn the microphone on and see what happens.
Do you plan on releasing a music video once the pandemic is over?
YUNGBLUD: We’re not gonna let a pandemic stop us. We’re gonna film something very soon. (winks)
Can we expect more collabs with other artists in the future?
YUNGBLUD: The thing is this first installment of “weird!” is not the end of “weird!”. There’s gonna be a lot more coming.
Who is your dream collab?
YUNGBLUD: Dead or alive? Dead, I would say David Bowie. Alive, I’d say Travis Scott. That would be sick.
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a very weird year but it has also been your year! You won the award for “Best Push Artist” at the MTV EMA, you’re on track for your first UK Number 1 album this week. How does it feel? And how do you deal with this brand new fame?
YUNGBLUD: I don’t really think about it, I care about the community. I think I’m pushing for number 1 so hard right now, not for the piece of metal I get or the Instagram post, but for all it means for this community, for all it means for rock music. Getting a number one during Christmas in the UK is mental especially for a rock act. I just want people to know that we exist on a commercial scale.
You said that this album was written for and by your fans, that their stories inspired you. Isn’t it too heavy to carry all these, sometimes, tough and difficult stories? Do you recognize yourself in some of them? How do you deal with all of this?
YUNGBLUD: This is exactly the whole album. This is hearing those stories and having those stories redefine every single feeling I’ve ever felt and go: “I feel like that, this is what my sexuality should be, you do that too? Wow.” That’s what YUNGBLUD means.
You’re very close to your fans, you always say that they’re your family. Isn’t it too difficult to keep your private life private? Are you able to create boundaries to protect yourself?
YUNGBLUD: It’s hard because I have such a codependent relationship with them. It does get tough to create boundaries but that’s a conversation we got to talk about later. I love them, I love my fanbase so much, so I’m happy. We’re a family and families fight. It happens.
You’ve always been very vocal about political and social issues. Do you think that artists have a responsibility towards their audience? You’ve been very vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement but it’s not the case for a lot of your peers. What do you think about that?
YUNGBLUD: If you’re not talking about something of value, you’re not an artist you’re a singer. Have fun at the karaoke bar!
You’ve been on French TV on “Taratata” last year. You did two sold out shows in a row at Trabendo. France is almost like your second home! What do you think about your French audience? Are you excited to come back?
YUNGBLUD: I loved “Taratata”! I love France, I love your people, I love your culture, it’s really attractive to me. I think I want to live in Paris one day. I love how you don’t give a fuck, the french are punk as fuck. And I was very nervous because I wanted to kind of be a part of your culture, and I know you don’t let a lot of people be a part of it. So I was very nervous about that show but when everyone liked me, it was so sick to me. I’m obsessed with my french audience. They’re so loud, they don’t give a fuck and they’re so proud and I love to be right there with them.
You said that your Paris show was almost sold out.
YUNGBLUD: Olympia is nearly sold out and it’s a year away.
Do you plan on adding a new show, like you did at the Trabendo?
YUNGBLUD: You’ll see. (winks)
Last but not least, we are “RockUrLife”, so what rocks your life, Dom?
YUNGBLUD: Rock and roll music, my fanbase and Stella Artois.