Glass meets Yungblud

ROCK and roll attitude running through his veins and activism pouring from his mouth Yungblud radiates the power of music consciousness in 2018. The 19-year-old, otherwise known as Dominic Harrison, grew up in Doncaster and left school three years ago to pursue a music career in London. Yungblud has worked with people such as Matt Schwartz, has just finished his European tour, and next month will be hitting up the USA for a spring tour with K. Flay. NME has named him as one of their 100 New Music Acts that will Take Over 2018 and we’re not surprised.

Watching Yungblud at his sold-out gig at Thousand Islands in Highbury made it apparent that a huge buzz has developed around him. Gracing the stage in a hooded black sweatshirt and heavy eyeliner Yungblud opened with a crowd favourite I Love You, Will You Marry Me.

As the gig progressed so too did Harrison’s youthful confidence, reaching a peak when he began smashing up his guitar against the stage. Everything about Yungblud has an anti-establishment attitude. His mix of Jamie T inspired tempo, Arctic Monkeys northern twang, the swagger of hip-hop king Travis Scott and a unique spirit that moulds them all together makes Dominic Harrison the go-to artist for all the current music trends.

Yungblud. Photograph: Evgeniy Kazannik. Shirt, Lou Dalton. T-Shirt, AG Jeans. Trousers, Coach 1941. Shoes, Sorel.

You’ve been nominated by NME as one of their 100 new music acts that will take over 2018 and those who have seen you perform live describe you as ‘addictive’, how do you feel about this?
That was amazing. It was incredible like when NME first started giving me support I literally just woke up one morning, they’d been to a gig and I was just like, “What?” It’s amazing, you know what I mean? It’s incredible to have a magazine of that stature credit you. It’s just amazing, I’m just doing my thing. It’s amazing to be an artist who is just simply be yourself and is simply talking about what you think and you feel is wrong and what you want to change and to have a magazine of that calibre to get behind you is just amazing.

Your father was a vintage guitar dealer and your grandfather played with T-Rex, did this play a role in your decision to pursue music as a career?
It’s so funny man, there’s been a misconception with my grandad, everyone thinks he was in T-Rex. I think he played with them like once and it’s been so funny to watch it spiral out of control like, “Yungblud’s grandad’s Marc Bolan” it’s like, “nah man”. But yeah, definitely, my grandad was such a massive influence in my career. I remember sitting in his house when I was really young and listening to old Beatles vinyls. He would not let me go to bed until the full vinyl of Revolver had finished. He’d be like, “This is proper music son, this is how you do it”. I remember that very distinctly. I had a guitar put in my hand literally … there’s a picture of me out of the hospital, seven hours old in a car seat with a Beatles ukulele on my dad’s shop counter with a microphone next to me so I don’t really think I could have done anything else.

What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?
Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re going to have a hard couple of years and you’re gonna have to graft a lot but it’s all good. It’s all good. When your dad says,“Can you reverse the car in Leeds?” say, “No dad, because I’m gonna smash it up.”

What was your most played track of 2017?
Ultralife Beam off of Kanye’s The Life of Pablo album. I just think it’s a masterpiece of a song. His production on that is just ingenious. It was incredible, I love every bit of it. I put it on every morning to kind of get me out of bed.

Where would your dream location be to play a gig?
It would be New York. I’ve done a showcase out there but I can’t wait to play a proper gig out there. Or Brazil, somewhere in South America. It’s just been so insane travelling to all these places and even thinking that I could go to these places one day is insane so I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Your songs are heavily influenced by current affairs and the challenges millennials face, do you feel a sense of purpose for your generation when producing music?
I just think right now the world is such a confusing place for young people and we’re a generation that is so smart and so clued up. We know what we want, we know the world we want to live in, but it’s been held back by a generation that aren’t quite ready for it to go there or don’t quite understand us.

At the end of the day I don’t want to preach to anyone, I think it’s amazing that people are saying that about me but I’m just saying what I think. I don’t want to tell people what to think because who the hell am I to do that? I just want to encourage people that they can say what they think and talk about it because if we say what we think, then we fundamentally change things and things get better, do you know what I mean?

Yungblud. Photographer: Evgeniy Kazannik. Shirt, Lou Dalton. T-Shirt, AG Jeans.

 

Yungblud. Photographer: Evgeniy Kazannik. Shirt, Daniel Fletcher. Tshirt, AG Jeans. Trousers, Coach 1941.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the music industry?
I would probably say fear of acceptance, I think that’s the trouble for every artist. If you’ve been fundamentally yourself and you’re not trying to be like anything else then it’s always going to take a little bit of time, isn’t it? But I just think you’ve got to try and keep your blinkers on. I mean it’s been hard because when you watch other artists kind of blow up, you feel inclined to do what they did and that shouldn’t be the case. I believe you should just be true to yourself and I think it’s a hard challenge but you’ve just got to fucking keep your blinkers on and keep the faith in what you’re doing.

How has working with producer Matt Schwartz (Massive Attack) influenced your music making?
Oh fundamentally. Matt is such a fundamental biological catalyst into what I am. I moved down to London when I was 16 and like I said I think one of the biggest challenges you face is not trying to be like everybody else because it’s working, and I think at 16 you can get very lost. I was in with producers telling me their opinion of what I should be and that can make you get very lost and very confused as an artist.

I remember going down to Matty and playing him some songs and he was the only person that said to me, “This is no good, you are writing songs that sound like everybody else” and at the time I was like,“I don’t agree” and I had a chip on my shoulder but after speaking to Matty, I just said, “I need to prove this guy wrong” and he said, “The music you’re writing is not representing the people you’re telling me you love.” So I locked myself in my bedroom and started writing songs about what I thought was wrong and what I felt in my heart was, not just what I thought would get me on the radio, but what I wanted to talk about and what me and my friends were angry about, and I went into the studio with a poem and that first poem was King Charles.

Now I never want to work with anybody else without him again because he’s just part of me. He’s part of my sound, he’s part of the way I think, he pushes me to be better, he pushes me to never want to stop moving and I think that’s somebody you need. I think, as a producer, he just enhances me and he lets me runs and he inspires me. That’s the biggest thing, we inspire each other and it’s so exciting to just lock ourselves in a smoky basement in Soho and just write music.

How would you describe your sound in your debut EP?
I think it’s a lot of things I love. I grew up simultaneously on hip-hop music and rock’n’roll music and I think they come from the same place. I love those genres of music because they’re not just music. They’re music that represent an attitude and represent a mentality and talk about things. I just thought to myself, “Why can’t I do something different? Why can’t I mix everything that I love, music that I’m inspired by, in one pot and see what madness comes out?”

I love R’n’B music, I love hip-hop music, I love rock music, I love pop music, so why can’t I mix it all together? I never want to be genre defined. I walk into a studio and write about what inspires me. Why can’t I take something that’s similar from a Kanye West song’s string line that really inspired me and put it over a Clash guitar with an 808 in the bass and a Nirvana drum kit? Because that’s how music should be. I don’t want my next record to sound like my last record.

If you could collaborate with a current musician, who would it be?
There’s loads of people. I’d love to work with people that nobody would expect me to work with. I’d love to do something with Kendrick Lamar, I’d love to do something with Kanye West, I’d love to do something with Alex Turner, I’d love to do something with Lorde. There’s so many artists… Post Malone, Smoke Curtain… There’s so many artists that I believe are representing something… Jesse Reyez… there’s loads of artists. I think it’s a good time for artists right now. I think there’s a lot of great artists out there that I’d love to collab with.

Yungblud. Photographer: Evgeniy Kazannik. Black Jacket, Soulland. Jacket, Wood Wood. Tshirt, Kenzo.

Yungblud. Photographer: Evgeniy Kazannik.

Do you have any other hobbies that contribute to your musicality?
I like football. Probably singing in the crowd, I do a chant. I don’t know, in my life it’s all about the music for me. It’s weird, I’m a bit of a geek, I’m a bit of a nerd, I’ll come from the studio, I’ll play my guitar, get stoned and listen to Dark Side of the Moon. It’s that kind of life, I’m a vinyl collector.

What are the highpoints of your career so far?
I just think the best thing in the world for me is, the hype is amazing but the best fundamental real thing for me is when people reach out to me on DMs on Instagram and Twitter and say, “You’re the only person in the world that understands me” or, “I connect to your music in a way that I’ve never done before” and that’s so amazing to me because, fuck the artist thing, on a human level to see what I’m feeling connect with a similar thing someone else is feeling is the best thing in the world and it’s why I do this.

I just think young people right now are being totally misrepresented and misunderstood and I just needed to say something about it from my perspective and to see people connect with it and with my perspective is just incredible.

Taking your past year into consideration, where would you like to be this time next year?
The past year was incredible. The tour I’ve just been on was just crazy. To go to places I’ve never been and have kids screaming your lyrics and 30 kids outside the venue when you turn up is just absolutely incredible. It hadn’t happened to me before so just completely blew my mind. I don’t know, I’m just on my journey. I hope the music, people can relate to it and it can build properly. I never want to be fake, I never want to be perceived as fake because I’m just being myself and talking about what I think is wrong and what I feel needs to change and it’s amazing that people are relating and it’s been so sick to see that so far and I just love it because the people who are at my shows, we’re all there together and we’re all there because one, we want to have a good time and two, because we’re angry as well and it’s amazing to me that people feel the same.

by Lily Rimmer

Yungblud’s self-titled debut EP is out now.

Photographer: Evgeniy Kazannik.

Stylist: Thomas Ramshaw

Grooming: Lara Himpelmann using Bobbi Brown and Bumble & Bumble