"Yungblud on Xanax, anxiety and Michael Jackson"
Yungblud has one request before this interview begins. “Please, please don’t ask me about when I first discovered music,” groans the 21-year-old in his soft Yorkshire twang, facepalming and sinking his cheek onto the table while his hair, a complex structure of gelled, colliding strands, almost knocks over the coffee.
Seconds later, his frown splits in two, making way for a wide, angelic grin that sits as incongruously beneath his kohl-smudged eyes as the bright pink socks peeping out from his all-black attire. “Come on, ask me a question and I’ll answer it honestly,” he says, rubbing his hands together so vigorously sparks could fly. And then, without irony: “Because you know, I’m just so real all the time.”
Born Dominic Harrison, Yungblud grew up in Doncaster around the corner from the Arctic Monkeys, and has taken alt rock by storm with his rebellious, sweary Britpop that, between invigorating guitar riffs and slinky hip-hop beats, treats thorny issues from gun violence and politics to depression and rape to a monthly listenership of 6.5 million streams. At a time where opinion has become something of a hot potato, ready to send Twitter feeds up in smoke and careers along with it, Yungblud’s debut album 21st Century Liability, which he says was for “today’s misunderstood youth growing up in confusion, anxiety and fear”, set him apart as one of the few remaining voices to cut through the beige. If anyone could talk about being "real" without sounding insincere, this is your guy.
When did you become so outspoken?
From a young age I was always very transparent, and that’s why the kids' mums didn’t like me. I would tell you if I didn’t like your beans on toast. I remember talking about a Mozart song during a music class at school, and I said, ‘I wouldn’t have done it like that’. I didn’t like the way the chords moved. And my teacher told me to get out. I wasn’t saying it was bad. It was a perfectly incredible piece of music. f**k me, he wrote it at 13, that’s insanity.
Whose mum didn’t like you?
Georgia Mattison’s mum. f**k, you’re going to print that. Fine. I would always tell her when I thought she was wrong. And she confronted me in the playground about causing disruption in the classroom. People didn’t understand me because young people were in a box then. But that’s been totally obliterated now. We are so f**king intelligent. People get offended because opinion is a very controversial thing nowadays. People are scared to have a strong opinion because, with social media, almost everyone lives the life of a celebrity.
Your opinions are on trend though. You’re ‘woke’.
A lot of people say things just because it’s trending. And you can tell. You can tell the difference.
Are people more intolerant in Doncaster compared to London?
There’s a lot of neglect up there. There’s still a small minded mentality.
Did your parents vote Brexit?
No, they voted to remain. Thank f**k. I’d have to disown them. They couldn’t come to my shows anymore.