Dominic Harrison, who you may better recognize under his eye-catching moniker Yungblud, has kept himself incredibly busy the past year. Not only did the Doncaster-born artist release his debut album, 21st Century Liability, back in July of 2018, he’s also toured the world and collaborated with a whole slew of artists.
It’s an impressive feat for anyone, let alone a 22-year-old who just released his debut a little over a year ago, and that list of achievements has ensured Harrison as a mainstay artist in today’s scene. While all that’s fine and well, Harrison’s more than just any pop artist.
Upon doing a deep dive into Yungblud and his history, it’s evident that the kid who grew up in Doncaster isn’t another cookie-cutter act. With his wild hair paired with a ’70s punk aesthetic, his animated persona and music that’s best described as a hodgepodge of various genres which back politically-charged lyrics, there’s a lot to unpack when first discovering Dominic Harrison – but that’s not a bad thing.
He’s an artist that is unashamed to be himself and with that strong sense of individuality, he’s been able to craft Yungblud as more of a movement than a stage name. And that movement, which he accredits partly to his dedicated fanbase, has allowed him to do so much in a short amount of time.
And he’s not slowing down anytime soon. That has been further proven in the form of a brand new EP, the underrated youth, which is out today.
The EP, which marks the first official follow-up to the rapper’s debut, is a collection of six songs that take fans on an emotional journey of Harrison’s past year. It’s a collection of tracks that were written thanks to a combination of people he’s met, stories he’s gotten the privilege to hear, and his internal battles along the way.
“I mean to be honest this CD is about the stories I’ve heard and the people I’ve met. It’s different…since I released the [Yungblud] project, it has become a whole different medium. It’s become less and less about me every day, you know, and more and more about the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard,” Harrison explains. “Yungblud has become 50 percent me and 50 percent my fanbase. We’re almost at a movement of people with similar or the exact same ideologies. It’s not a fanbase and an artist.”
He continues: “The thing about it is there’s so many fucking stories every day, that with it, it becomes a thing where I’m not bothered about digits, I’m not bothered about fucking this [or that], I’m not bothered about gold discs.” He shares, “They’re amazing and they’re fucking great to have. But with the stories…The thing that I am bothered about and the thing that gets me excited is when I look at my fanbase. When I look at each individual, we have a mutual little bit of fucking magic between us that we mutually shaped each other’s lives.”
And while the EP really started to take shape from the stories of people Harrison’s met along the way, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t pulled from other sources of inspiration: specifically from himself.
Explaining that he found himself writing a lot of these songs when he wanted to escape from his darkest thoughts, he found this record to be one of the first where he’s been truly able to express what’s been going on in his head.
“I’m always writing music, I’m always doing something because it kind of stops me coming to the surface and remembering that I deeply hate myself,” Harrison says. “But this project is about us and it’s kind of the first album with me, Dom, expressing what’s going on in my head. And this EP talks about what’s going on inside my soul, inside my heart.”
Describing the album as his most emotional collection of songs, Harrison explains the songwriting process going into the record wasn’t difficult despite the raw feeling that creeps up upon a closer listen.
And he accredits this songwriting ease to the simple mindset that he’s simply having a conversation with his fans.
“It’s not me and them, it’s us. And I hear stories so I’m inspired all the time,” Harrison said. “People are like, ‘do you ever get exhausted?’ because this isn’t a fucking act, this is real. This is me just talking to them through music and them talking to me through music, you know, so it happens really quickly and it’s really exciting.”
Harrison’s fanbase and the strong connection he has with them can be a whole other story in and of itself, but to put it simply: he relies on them just as much as they rely on him. It’s an interesting dynamic, and it’s one that Harrison has been able to expand into something much more meaningful than just fan and artist.
As he explains, the Yungblud name is much more than him. It’s a partnership between him and his fans, who all share a common ideology and drive to make the world a much more open-minded place free of all prejudices and hate that’s spreading more and more each day.
And with this partnership, this connection between him and the fans, Harrison has been able to bring a group of otherwise misfitted people together to fight for a common good – and that’s really what he hopes the underrated youth allows people to see.
“It’s amazing because people from all different walks of life, people who heard stories about the way the community and Yungblud helps someone transition to go into the body they believe they belong in or come out to their parents, or fucking just simply shit like quit the job or getting through the shitty job and at the end of the day, this EP is about uniting people and bringing them together,” Harrison says. “Because in a world that surrounds itself in such unjustified hate, the one common denominator of the people I meet, of the young people I meet as well, is the constant fight, the constant emotional connection, the constant drive, and the constant determination to fight for a more equal liberal world. And the Intelligence embedded inside our heads. And, I mean, we’re going to meet that fucking hate head-on, and we’re going to beat the fucking hate away with a bouquet of fucking flowers…You know what I mean?”
Finding common ground and shared ideologies with his fanbase isn’t the only thing that Harrison has found by having a close connection with his fans. As he explains, he’s also been able to find acceptance in them.
“When I grew up, I didn’t belong anywhere. People didn’t understand me. They couldn’t get their head around me because I wasn’t in a box the way society wanted me to be in or the area I grew up in. I had no mold to sit in. So I wanted to create my own and it’s not about me [thinking] ‘I’m gonna write the deepest, most meaningful music.’ I just wanted it to relate to people on a similar level,” Harrison said. “The thing about it is I wanted to be a part of something. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m fucking apart of something, I belong somewhere. And that’s what I always say….if you feel like you belong nowhere, then you belong right here with me.”
That feeling of acceptance has pushed Harrison into ensuring that he’ll never be one of those artists that are too busy or too famous to interact with his fans. Whether it’s going into the crowd to take pictures or have a sing-along with them to spending a few extra minutes on social media to update his followers on what’s he’s doing and answering their questions, he’s made sure he’s made himself available to them. The reason for that is simple: he’s one of them.
“I’m never going to be, and you can mark my words on this, I never wanted to be a fucking untouchable popstar. It’s not about the fucking planes or Rolexes or money or fame or anything like that to me,” Harrison says. “If that comes, then that’s amazing. I just write music and meet my fans because I fucking love them and I’m one of them. It’s not me and them, it’s us.”
He continues on by saying: “And if it’s ever me and them, and I ever become separate from them, then I’m fucked. Yungblud is fucked. It’s flawed. It’s a sham. Because I’ve seen like the pop world and I’ve seen how people resonate and I want no part of it. I just want to do my music, connect to my kids and I’m not telling people what to think. I never want to tell people what you should think or what you should wear or what you should look like. I just want to encourage them to say what they think and behave how they want to and feel comfortable in themselves because they made me feel like it was okay to be myself. And I think once you figure that out, it’s almost your responsibility to help others figure that out as well.”
As the interview wraps up, Harrison circles back to further discuss a few more details of his EP, which he hinted that it should be something that fans won’t expect to come from him.
Between the album’s poignant lyrics to his even deeper dive into genre-infused tracks, he explained that he put a lot of himself into these songs; leaning even more into experimentation and emotions than ever before.
“I think the lyrical content has gone a bit different [and] how emotional it gets. Everyone’s gonna be like, ‘fuck me Yungblud did a song with him and then acoustic guitar. Why? What, that’s crazy!’ I will always push the boundaries of what is me,” Harrison says. “I promise you it will always be from a real place. I’m always going to write my own music, I’m always going to produce my own music and I’m always going to put my fucking soul into my own music, you know?”
He further elaborates the reason for the change in tune from his debut is a simple one: he likes to keep people on their toes.
“I never want people to expect what I’m going to do next. I think if people know what I’m going to do next, I’m fucked. I think this EP is a lot more emotional, it’s a lot more from the heart. The sounds are bigger, the singing is more heartfelt,” Harrison said. This EP is from my heart because my first record was angry. It was loud. It was a bit bratty. This one is more thought about and rawer, I think. It’s a bit more raucous and a bit more emotional.”
The mindset of unpredictability is one that the artist doesn’t just keep reserved for his music. Earlier in the year, he announced his plans on releasing his own graphic novel called The Twisted Tales Of The Ritalin Club.
Released a few days before his EP, the Doncaster native wanted to find another creative endeavor that his fans can enjoy.
“It’s almost the same world. I just wanted to give my fanbase a world to visually fall into. It is the metaphor of the way society is right now and my views of the world but in a visual aspect,” Harrison says. “I have these ideas when I’m bored, I can never switch off and I was like ‘I’m gonna write a comic book, fuck it,’ and we did it.”
As for what’s next for Yungblud, the artist has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. Opting to not give too much away at the generic “what’s next” question, he answered the question on a hopeful note, hinting that there’s much more to come.
“Keep your eyes peeled! I’m about to drop some crazy announcements regarding touring and as I say, I’m just ready man, I’m never stopping,” Harrison said. “Everyone always says like ‘take a break,’ but I’m excited all the time, so let’s go.”