Anti-Tik Tok Star YUNGBLUD Wants to Call Out the BS

Anti-Tik Tok Star YUNGBLUD Wants to Call Out the BS

Anti-Tik Tok Star YUNGBLUD Wants to Call Out the BS

VMAN spoke with artist and multi-instrumentalist about LA's faults, his next project, and why music with meaning is vital during societal transformation.

VMAN spoke with artist and multi-instrumentalist about LA's faults, his next project, and why music with meaning is vital during societal transformation.

Photography: Connor Franta

Styling: Andrew Mukamal

Text: Sam Ford

Dominic Harrison hails from Northern England’s Yorkshire, and under the name YUNGBLUD, he fuses alternative-rock, pop-punk, and hip-hop centered on the issues that face his generation. From his music to his persona, YUNGBLUD is entirely enigmatic and unapologetic, and while VMAN talked with the British singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, his charisma was still unwaveringly animated through the phone and at opposite ends of the nation—from New York City to Los Angeles, where Harrison has been stuck since the onset of the pandemic. 

YUNGBLUD wears Moschino and all rings and bracelets worn throughout are Chrome Hearts.

YUNGBLUD’s time in LA made him realize he didn’t want to be anything other than English, citing the city’s “plastic bubble of bullshit” as the source for that realization. What it did offer the artist though, was a new way of thinking and looking at the world, especially while being involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“When you see your best friend being discriminated for the fucking color of their skin, that's what's real, not what fucking articles been written about you or what song is going to perform well on TikTok or what song is going to fucking break you or how cute you look in a photo,” YUNGBLUD said. “It's this vapid kind of thing that made me want to push against it. I think as an artist, I always want something to kick against. And I've got something to kick against.”

It’s that “middle finger to the man” mentality that helped create YUNGBLUD’s success; climbing to the tops of UK charts with EP’s like 2019’s hope for the underrated youth and playing festivals around the world to crowds of fans that also feel fed up with the way things are. His latest single and music video “Strawberry Lipstick” starring artist Jesse Jo Stark keeps that same energy, and is the first taste of his forthcoming sophomore album that's due out later this year. While it’s still under construction, YUNGBLUD’s next project will tell a “whiskey neat tale about life,” self discovery, and coming of age in his usual uncensored fashion. 

But to get to that point, Harrison came to terms with having “no fucking clue whatsoever” when trying to figure out who he is, which he said changes every few months and is possible whether you’re age 22 or 102. His most pressing concern for the new album, as with most of his music, is to unite and empower not only his community of listeners, but today’s youth as a whole while crises like the pandemic and racial inequality continue on. 

YUNGBLUD wears Moschino

Of YUNGBLUD’s lyrical influence for his next album, he stated without hesitation that he’s “Always going to tell the truth and I'm never going to release anything if I'm not telling the truth. And fuck me, man, I've got so much truth to tell right now.”

The English-bred artist is also focused on cultivating the album to sound as close as possible to being live, elaborating on the decision by saying, “I came from a place where the world didn't want to know me, so I wanted to build a world for myself and for other people where they could be exactly who they were without censorship, alienation, and suppression. When I'm on stage and they're singing and I'm looking at them back, that is where I feel like the fucking world just balances its scale.”

Harrison hung around the topic of TikTok—where some of his tracks ended up gaining popularity—for a few minutes, mainly to talk about how most music promoted through the app lacks a sense of connection or depth. But that juxtaposition between his own tracks heard on TikTok and the ones he finds rather soulless is something YUNGBLUD recently noticed and wanted to change.  

“It’s junk music, I vibe to it, and I get pissed to it. But it doesn't touch me or steal my soul,” he said of songs featured on TikTok. “I grew up on Oasis and the Smiths and the Clash and rock music that made me think and go: You know what? I'm going to get up today and it's all going to be alright.

If anything became clear about YUNGBLUD as the phone call drew to an end, it’s that he refuses to fit into today’s traditional molds of being a chart-topping artist. He marches solely to the beat of his own drum, and by using his music to brazenly address the problems that younger generations are ceaselessly fighting to fix, Harrison’s individuality works not just to his advantage.

YUNGBLUD wears Moschino

“Everyone's like, for this next album why don't you go a bit more accessible. There’s too much normal in this world, be not normal. We've lived in a normal world that's been so full of discrimination, hate, and in handcuffs for so long,” Harrison said.

“Right now is a time to be accepted for being different, in different shades, different colors, different sexualities, different thought processes, different fucking ways of speaking. It's about time young people took our fucking flags back and say, ‘Now this is what we mean. This is what we're going to be because we are the future.’”

YUNGBLUD wears Moschino

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