YUNGBLUD has things to say and he’s not going to waste any time. The 19-year-old from Yorkshire burst onto the scene this year but he’s already established himself as one of the most-outspoken, urgent new artists and his career is moving fast. So fast that just three singles into his career, he found himself in Australia.
His second single ‘I Love You Will You Marry Me’ (which you’ve definitely heard on triple j) resonated with audiences worldwide, merging a frenetic rock ‘n’ roll attitude with a political consciousness which takes its cues from hip-hop. His music thunders along with an urgency that feels like it needs an immediate response, which is perhaps why it’s spreading so fast.
The lazy response is to compare him to ’70s punk, but YUNGBLUD doesn’t want to be trading in nostalgia. As he told us during a chat while he was in Australia, he wants to be a voice for the youth right now, while also creating his own outspoken genre that pulls from all his influences. He’s loud, unafraid and poignant, answering every question like it’s his manifesto. Maybe that’s exactly the superstar we need right now.
MUSIC FEEDS: Three singles deep and you’re already in Australia. Did you expect it to happen so soon?
YUNGBLUD: It’s mental. I dropped my first track independently in April and now I’m in Sydney. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
MF: I was talking about you a few months ago just after the release of ‘King Charles’ and saying I thought you were gonna blow up. Next minute, everyone here is going crazy for you.
Y: It is so crazy. It’s absolutely mental just to release something new that you love and do what you want to do and then have people, like triple j support you…I’ve been watching Like A Version for a long time. It’s the best feeling in the world.
MF: Obviously you feel good about every song you release but did you have a feeling ‘I Love You Will You Marry Me’ would be the one to launch you?
Y: I think it’s capturing a moment and the way I feel in the moment. I’m just saying what I think and ‘I Love You Will You Marry Me’ is a tale from where I’m based that I needed to tell. I went into the studio and it just came out. I’m really proud of it and I didn’t know it would pop so much across here. I’m just writing music and saying what I think. I’m just writing what I love, I didn’t expect it to land so well. You never do. Releasing music is always a nerve-wracking thing. I’m tryna release music that’s in its own lane. I’m just trying to be something different. Right now a lot of artists and the music I’m listening to is kind of stuck in the same circle, going round and round. Just to see people responding so well to music that I wrote is amazing.
MF: There’s a frantic energy to your songs when you listen to them. Have you felt that energy returned to you live?
Y: Yeah 100 percent. For young people right now, the world is such a confusing, scary place. If you’re between 16 and 25, we’re such a clever generation who are very underestimated. What I don’t understand is, politics has never been more relevant for young people but there’s no one in mainstream pop music who is flying that flag and stepping into the danger zone and saying something has gotta change. That’s what I’m trying to achieve.
To go to shows in Europe where things started early on and people are screaming the lyrics that I wrote in my face and turning up to gigs in pink socks, it’s crazy. I’m here to say something, I’m here to shock people and to try and move the needle.
MF: In the last few years, there have been so many issues facing young people. Hip-hop has really responded to that but there are few genres that are as politically urgent and immediate as you are. Has it been cool for you so far to take on a voice for the young people?
Y: It’s just so humbling and amazing. I think that’s what I want to be. I want to be an outlet. I’m not telling people what to think or what to say, I’m just saying what I think and I want to encourage the kids to speak. If enough of us say it that’s when things change. What’s so awesome about hip-hop right now, is it’s an outlet for that and, for me, coming from loving rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop growing up, I think right now what I’m trying to do with my sound is merge the two genres together.
Hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll music come from the same soul. They’re kind of siblings in a way. Both genres talk about issues that aren’t just, “baby get down, I love you so much”. Both genres pride themselves on making changes in culture. I think rock ‘n’ roll right now is on life support because it’s being done the same way it’s been done since the ’60s. I’m tryna do it in a different way that merges hip-hop and influences I grew up on to give it a new flavour but also contain a message.
MF: I love that ambition straight up. Some people shy away from mainstream ambition but if you’ve got a message and you want to reach lots of people, you need to be in that lane.
Y: Exactly. I want my music to be heard by the masses. I don’t want to be some old guy in a Def Leppard t-shirt screaming about politics in a pub to 20 people. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That’s jokes, man. That’s literally my Grandad. But, I’ve got something to say and I know what I want to achieve. It would be amazing to connect.
MF: There’s a really ugly side to events of the past year or so like Brexit and Trump but there’s also a really nice side where it’s uniting youth in a way we’ve never been united before. That’s probably what you’re seeing at your shows yeah?
Y: It’s totally exciting. I think there’s something happening, there’s something stirring again. There hasn’t been a youth movement since, like, the ’60s and punk and all that. I think music plays a massive part in that. That’s why I don’t understand why politics isn’t being talked about enough. That’s what I want to bring across, that’s what I want to achieve.
MF: Obviously, ‘Tin Pan Boy’ is fresh out but what’s the YUNGBLUD plan for the next six months?
Y: For me, there’s so much music. I’ve literally got about 15 songs ready to go. It’s very easy to be like, “yeah, I’m just gonna drop an album.” It’s a very dumb way of looking at things. I’ve got singles that I’m most proud of in the holster ready to be fired but I’m just going to wait until the time is right. I’m going to be releasing a lot of music but I don’t know if a body of work is what I want to do right now.
I want to keep my options open and drop good songs that mean something and have their own moment. As I said earlier, dropping a song is ultimately capturing a moment and a feeling and I think for a playlist generation right now, I want to just release as much music as I can. I don’t want to sound arrogant but I believe I’ve written enough and I’m writing enough every day to be released.
YUNGBLUD’s latest single ‘Tin Pan Boy’ is out now.