“Everybody always expects me to go into some mad metaphorical story about this”, Yungblud said when I asked him about the story behind his name. “But it was just simply that my manager called me ‘young blood’ because I was the youngest person on the roster. And with the music I was writing, I just thought Dominic Harrison was a little bit polite. So we were brainstorming and it was like ping!”.
Truth be told, I didn’t expect much, I was just curious…
Music was the only thing that connected with Dominic Harrison when he was young. Emotionally anyway. “Without getting too la di da”, he added, “it’s the purest form of expression for me. I’d put it on when I was happy and I’d put it on when I was sad too. I remember I’d play my guitar but all my mates were better at ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ than me so I started writing songs instead”. The rest? It’s only just beginning.
Moving to London was a kick start in the right direction. “Growing up in the north, it is hard being a creative because the north has been neglected for quite a long time. I think it’s almost a fear thing if you like, that being a creative is not a stable job. You need to be able to put food on the table”. When he moved to London, it forced him to grow up because he was living on his own.
He started seeing the world from his own perspective too. “I think when you live with your parents, you see the world through tainted glasses. Every piece of information that comes to you, has gone through them. And you can talk about it but when you’re at home eating dinner by yourself, the information you’ve processed that day is thought about by you. You see the world for what it really is. So for me, I think moving down to London made me think for myself. It made me speak for myself and stand up on my own two feet”.
Dominic Harrison, or as we now know him, Yungblud, lives to stir up the raw energy of rebellion. And the driving force behind this? “What it comes down to is I’m saying what I think. I never want to preach to anyone. I never want to tell people what to think because who am I to do that?”
He seeks to encourage people to say what they think because it’s a confusing time right now. “It’s a crazy time for young people, and I think we’re such a clued up and clever generation”, he added. “We understand a lot. We also see a world that we want to live in, but it’s almost being held back by a generation that aren’t quite ready for the world to change. Or they don’t quite understand us”.
Initially, the angst was pent up between him and his friends. “We were really angry. But the more places I go to, it’s amazing to talk to people from different cultures and totally different countries and realise they’re thinking the same. Fuck the artist thing. On a human level, it’s amazing to see people feeling the same way as me”.
Without preaching, the message offered within Yungblud’s music is to reiterate that change comes through speaking your mind. “Again, we are such an opinionated generation”, he added, “we know how to think for ourselves. We know how to talk for ourselves. I don’t like people preaching because when you’re told to do something, or when something’s shoved down your throat, it’s very off putting”.
One of the best things for this artist right now, is seeing people connect to his music. “That’s been the craziest thing”, he said, “going on the road and getting messages on Instagram and Twitter from people saying ‘I’m connecting to what you’re saying’, ‘You understand me’, ‘You provide me with answers’. That’s the craziest thing to me because that’s what artists like Eminem and Alex Turner did for me. To provide answers to people who don’t have them is amazing”.
When Yungblud said that his music is an outburst of emotion and anger, it made me wonder whether this meant he isn’t always in the right frame of mind to create or be inspired. Speaking about the outbursts he said, “The first EP, and this chapter in my life, has been an outburst of emotion and anger because I felt misunderstood”. Especially in the moments leading to this point as an artist, before he figured out who he was.
“It’s been like a simmering pan”, he said, “and the lid’s flown off. All this anger and emotion that I’ve built up inside of me has flowed out so rapidly. But, I don’t know if I will be pigeonholing myself to that all the time. Some days I do feel motivated, and I’m writing songs about a positive thing and a positive outlook, and I think, that’s it. When I walk into a studio I can’t necessarily pin down what I’m going to write about that day. Or what I’m going to be inspired about that day. And that’s exciting for me, that’s not a negative. It’s just an exciting prospect where I don’t know what I’m going to come out with that day, and I bring something into the world that wasn’t there before. That’s sick”.
It’s long been known that most music genres share the same backbone, and that trait hasn’t been lost on Yungblud. “I think rock’n’roll and hip hop share the same soul because they represent something that’s more than the music. They talk about issues, and they have an attitude that is just so undeniable. But I think, right now, rock music is bland. It’s not representing anything. I’m so much more inspired by urban music right now because it’s representing the thing that’s fundamentally connecting to young people. There are some things I don’t agree with, but at least it’s representing something”.
Yungblud recently released the music video to his single ‘Polygraph Eyes’ which touches upon sexual assault. “I always wanted to write the song”, he said as we began to speak about it. “It was just an important subject to me growing up. I have two younger sisters and a very strong, opinionated, northern mother. It was something that I grew up around and saw going out in my early teens. The messed up thing was it didn’t resonate how fundamentally wrong it was until I grew up. I was brought up in this bubble and we were surrounded by this bubble were lad mentality is accepted”.
The song was written a year ago and he felt he needed to do the subject justice. Particularly when this movement of female empowerment is so prevalent at the moment. “I needed this song to be on the EP because I couldn’t remain silent”, he continued. “I wanted to talk about this issue from a male perspective. But it doesn’t need to be spoken about from a male perspective really, it needs to be said from an outright point. Just because a girl wants to wear a short skirt, smiles at you, or wants to get as drunk as she wants, doesn’t mean that you have the right to advantage of that”
Speaking about the video, he was excited to release it. “I needed it to be real. I wanted the boy to have a charm about him that was real, not that he’s just a rapist in the corner looking at this girl. I need boys to watch this and go ‘Oh my fucking God, I have done that”. But the idea that ‘lad mentality’ is something that we have simply accepted can’t be explained. “It’s like anything”, he added, “if something is done and not spoken about then it becomes the norm. And that is why we need to speak about it and say what we think. Things like this shouldn’t become the norm because it’s wrong”.
With tracks like ‘King Charles’, he also comments on the future. It’s an important topic because it’s something else he’s working towards. “I want the world to be a better place when I grow up. We are the people that are going to be living in it. Young people are going to be living in the future, that’s why it’s so important to me. That’s why it’s so important to lay down the foundations and talk about things. When I’m 35 I don’t want to live in a world that’s taken four steps backwards. I want to live in a world that’s taken five steps forwards”.
Yungblud’s self titled EP is out now
photography by CHARLIE EDWARDS
grooming by BERNADETTE KREJCI