Arts

Yungblud: The freedom to express yourself no matter what is what turns me on

Having already won himself legions of fans worldwide, rising star Yungblud is one to watch. The slightly anarchic 22-year-old tells Lucy Mapstone about his "mental" career so far, expressing himself, and why he hopes he never gets out of touch with his community of fans

Yungblud – 'I love David Bowie, I love Marilyn Manson, I love Lady Gaga. People like that are sick'

YUNGBLUD is in a cafe in London, and there's a possibility he's attracting more than a few curious glances from passers-by.

The singer-songwriter with a pop-punk edge and plenty to say is clad in fishnet tights, a pair of shorts and a striped hoodie. He's wearing mismatched shoes – a Doc Marten on one foot and a Creeper on the other – and he has a face full of make-up.

It's a bold look but one that suits him, and he's not afraid of standing out. He's all for a healthy dose of individualism and, given his musical idols, it's no surprise.

"I love David Bowie, I love Marilyn Manson, I love Lady Gaga. People like that are sick," he says over the phone, having described his outfit proudly and in great detail.

"The freedom to express yourself no matter what is what turns me on."

The 22-year-old rising star from Doncaster – real name Dominic Harrison – has made waves in the music industry over the past few years thanks to his flair for expressing himself, as well as for his hip-hop-inspired rock sound and knack for injecting humour into his politically inclined songs.

"I don't wanna be some 70-year-old geezer in a Def Leppard T-shirt singing about Margaret Thatcher down a pub – I wanna make people laugh and bring politics into music in a way that's funny and not f****** miserable and boring," he says.

It's easy to see why the alternative rocker and multi-instrumentalist has become a bit of a poster boy for Generation Z, with his take on new era punk and his gender-bending aesthetic, his thoroughly current views on sexuality, inclusivity, mental health and community, and his unapologetic manner in addressing such contentious themes in his music.

His rise to stardom has been bubbling under for the past few years, having dropped his debut album 21st Century Liability in July 2018.

He recently released his latest EP The Underrated Youth, which charted at number six in the UK, and his notoriety in America and Canada – where he has just completed a lengthy tour – is largely down to the popularity of his song Falling Skies, which appeared on the soundtrack to hit Netflix teen drama 13 Reasons Why.

But he is perhaps best known for his single 11 Minutes with US music star Halsey (who he was in a relationship with until their recent split) and Blink-182's Travis Barker, which has amassed well over 220 million streams, as well as songs with Imagine Dragon's Dan Reynolds and Machine Gun Kelly.

"People say, 'You collaborate a lot Dom,' and I'm like, 'Yep and I'm gonna collaborate more because that's culture'," he says.

"I'm not a**ed about what people say or think, I just want to pull people, young people, old people, from all different aspects of society, because that's what Yungblud is.

"Yungblud is 50 per cent me and 50 per cent the audience that listen to it; we're a community of people, all colours, all shapes, all sizes, all sexualities, all whatever the f*** we identify as, that's what we are.

"But we're there for one common reason and that's to be unified, and not be silent."

He could never be accused of being silent, his often protest-heavy songs ranging in topic from gun control in America in the song Machine Gun (F*** The NRA) from 21st Century Liability to teenage angst and individualism in Parents, from his latest EP.

He says he feels connected to his American audience, and indeed his fans from every corner of the Earth, because the world is a smaller place than it used to be.

"It's so interesting because young people have become so much more global. Like, I speak to kids in Atlanta or Chicago or Detroit or New York, and they're just as concerned about what's happening with Boris Johnson as a British kid is.

"It's the same where I'm just worried about Trump as someone in Seattle is – I think that's it.

"But America's mad. Like, it's been incredible, just going there, and we shut down Times Square and we had like 600 kids outside every venue every night... like, the police got called on multiple occasions to rally the crowds, and we just can't believe it man.

"As I say it's still a small community but it feels mental."

He's fine with the fame and the attention, though, despite it being perhaps overwhelming at times.

"I'm just loving it, because when people ask you for pictures or when they mob you it's not out of aggression or pestering, it's out of love, it's out of community man," he explains.

"The thing about it is, I don't ever want to be on a pedestal," he adds, noting his fanbase. "I'm one of them, and I was looking for them my whole life and I've found them.

"Obviously I didn't expect it to get this big and it still feels like only the beginning but I found people who understand me for who I genuinely am.

"So every time I see them it just sends me spiralling inside, out of love."

For all of his successes past and the many more that are yet to come, his main ethos is to keep it real and to stay on a level with those who admire him and look to him for musical connectivity.

He says that performing, with his emotional displays on stage and his penchant for passionately screeching out the high notes, is a "release".

"I think that's why this whole thing has moved so quickly, because that's all it's about," he says.

"I ain't trying to be on a pedestal, as I said: I'm one of them, they are one of me, I'm just some 22-year-old t*** from the north who sings about some s***."

:: Yungblud plays Vicar Street, Dublin, on November 27 (ticketmaster.ie).

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Arts