INTERVIEW: Yungblud out to make rock dangerous, but his community safe

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Yungblud

Yungblud photographed during Warped Tour at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on July 21, 2019. Photo: Chloe Catajan.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. — There’s little room for middle ground when it comes to U.K. singer-songwriter Dominic Harrison, better known as Yungblud. Harrison’s bold, outspoken and audacious personality makes him an unmistakable force that’s impossible to ignore. As Yungblud, Harrison aims for an era when rock and roll was daring and dangerous, and its main protagonists were larger than life figures that transcended music and culture.

Yungblud
Missio

9 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15
The Regency Ballroom
Tickets: $25-$30.

“Rock music is pretty fucking boring right now,” Harrison said recently in a chat at Vans Warped Tour in the South Bay. “It’s not progressive; it’s not sounding any different than it’s sounded for 40 years.”

Harrison is a lot of things, but boring is not one of them. His style is loud and unpredictable. He’s just as likely to wear a transparent dress for his onstage attire as he is colorful baggy sweaters and chains. His image is a little Freddie, a little Kurt, a little Bowie, a little Iggy—and a dash of Gaga. It’s a rock and roll stew.

Unafraid to speak his mind in song, Harrison puts the issues facing Generation Z at the forefront of his message. Gun violence, opioid addiction and mental health; nothing is left off the table. Harrison said he’s encouraged by other artists like Grandson and FEVER 333 to feel more confident about aggressively speaking out on record about real world issues.

“Mental health and socials issues are being talked about more, but the artists who are doing it right aren’t doing it to be trendy,” Harrison said. “We’re doing this because we generally believe it; there’s been such a shift.”

It’s not only the artists that are more engaged in social issues, it’s the fans as well. Harrison said there is a hunger from young audiences to speak out on the issues they care about.

“If you asked a young person if they were into politics five years ago, they’d say, ‘fuck no, fuck that, it’s lame.'” he said. “but we have to be now. Look at the world and look at what’s going on.”



While the lyrical messages of the songs may be heavy, Harrison makes the musical counterpart vibrant and bouncy. He’s also keenly aware to never preach to an audience, choosing rather to raise issues with inclusiveness. Instead, he just tried to make fans feel welcome at his shows.

Yungblud, as an entity, was born out of a sense of community between Harrison and his fans—known as the Black Hearts Club—with the shared goal of celebrating shared struggles as well the diversity that brings them together. The “Black Hearts” moniker comes from tattoos on the singer’s middle fingers.

Yungblud

Yungblud photographed during Warped Tour at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on July 21, 2019. Photo: Chloe Catajan.

“Yungblud is 50 percent me and 50 percent them; it’s not a fan base and an artist,” Harrison said. “It’s not that [the message] resonates with them, we resonate with each other.”

The artist, who has ADHD, explained that his music was influenced by the condition. Not being able to listen to the same thing for long, he was exposed to many genres that eventually influenced his genre-bending, shapeshifting style. Feeling like he didn’t fill the mold, Harrison built his own and now encourages his fans to do the same. On the other hand, music also became the outlet to clear his mind of noise and distraction. As he talks he takes turns leaning forward in his chair before slowly reclining. Back and forth.

“I’m manic all of the time,” Harrison said. “Music made me feel still, and my head has never been still.”

Since releasing his debut album, 21st Century Liability, in 2018, he’s worked with Halsey and Travis Barker on “11 Minutes” and rapper Machine Gun Kelly on “I Think I’m OKAY.” In the case of Halsey (whom Harrison is also now dating), the collaboration was initiated via Instagram DM. The two shared a common passion for the culture of punk rock growing up.



“We bonded over stories of Warped Tour,” Harrison said. “When we first went for a fucking drink, that was the conversation we had.”

Next, he’d like to work with Tyler, the Creator, because he views the rapper’s music as a destination young people can go to find comfort. Yungblud wants to do the same for his fans and said the feeling of community when he’s on stage validates all of the reasons he became an artist in the first place.

Yungblud

Yungblud performs at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on Oct. 25, 2017. Photo: Alessio Neri/Staff.

Harrison has a lot to look forward to on the horizon, with a U.S. headlining tour and new music.

“Genuinely, all I wanted to do was create a family and movement of people who felt like they were lonely and didn’t belong,” he said. “There’s something about us all singing together in solidarity that just makes me inspired and happy. It makes me feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, in this moment, doing exactly this thing.”

Follow Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald. Follow Chloe Catajan at Instagram.com/riannachloe and Twitter.com/riannachloe.

(1) Comment

  1. Sarah

    Nice piece! To know this guy is to love him. His energy and perspective are infectious. I went to a show over the summer and honestly couldn't get enough of it. We'll be going again in a couple of weeks while he's making the rounds again. I expect his star will continue to rise -- just so much talent and charisma there.

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