Always opinionated and outspoken, Dominic Harrison found his voice through music, but not without a struggle
If former Ritalin candidate Yungblud has learned anything since surviving his childhood, it’s the importance of taking a stand.
Proving he knows not only who his fans are, but, more importantly, what he means to them, Dominic Harrison made sure his first-ever gig in America was as inclusive as it was memorable for all involved.
The genre-blurring English artist officially known as Yungblud is just hours removed from his debut stateside when he’s reached on a cellphone in a van headed to Scottsdale, Arizona. Coming on like a man whose four main food groups are Red Bull, white sugar, brown sugar, and black coffee, the easily excitable 20-year-old recounts the gig, in San Diego, as an unqualified life highlight.
First off, despite being something of an unknown quantity in the mainstream, he received a messiah’s welcome.
“Oh, man, it was just crazy to be in America and have a venue full of people singing my music in a place I’d never been to before,” Yungblud says proudly. “That has me so energized for the rest of the tour. To be honest, the first time I go places, I don’t know what to expect. If it’s 10 people, that’s fuckin’ better than none. But to have a packedout room jumping up and down and singing my songs—that’s fucking mad.”
What happened outside the licensed club was just as memorable as the show itself.
“Because the venue was 21-plus, I did a meet-and-greet beforehand for all the people who were under 21,” Yungblud says. “That’s a huge part of my fan base. I did it at a famous chicken stop. It was amazing to meet them and also to hang around after the show, signing merch and talking to people. The essence of Yungblud is connection. That’s all I want to do: connect with people. Initially, I started writing music because I wanted to express my thoughts and get what was going on in my head out to the world. When I saw how many people I was connecting with, it turns into this family, and so fucking quickly. It’s really blown my mind.”
That Yungblud is somewhat excited by life won’t surprise anyone who’s heard
21st Century Liability. his debut album,
The record is in many ways autobiographical, with more than one reference to the drug favoured by four out of five teachers, parents, and doctors who see ADHD as a curse rather than a blessing to artists. Consider “I’m employee of the month at a Ritalin club” from the anthemic “Anarchist”, and “They tried to put me on Ritalin/hoping I don’t make a sound” from “California”.
Yungblud acknowledges that school was, indeed, a challenge.
“Teachers, people, and, to be honest, some of my classmates didn’t understand me,” he says. “I was the person they didn’t like because I would always speak my mind and had a lot of energy. I’d be bouncing around all the time, being very opinionated. That taught me that people in power don’t like to be confronted, especially by someone younger than them. I didn’t understand why wanted And that to that’s was—i say what exactly was he someone thought.” what Yungblud who just does on 21st Century Liability, tackling issues ranging from America’s insane obsession with guns (“Machine Gun [Fuck the NRA]”) to the commodification of art and the artists who make it (“Die for the Hype”). Stylistically, the record aims squarely at the Spotify nation, “Die moving (“I for electroclash the Love Hype”) frenetically You, (the to Will aforementioned ska-tinged from You amphetamined Marry Britpop Me”) to American slacker pop (“Kill Somebody”). Pay attention and you’ll notice clever nods, including the rapmetal banger “21st Century Liability” riffing on Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, and the keys in the G-funk–dusted “California” paying homage to Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.”. Yungblud thinks he knows why he’s resonating with a new generation: teens have adopted the attitude that the best way to effect change is to mobilize, whether taking to the streets to protest gun violence in the States or walking out of Ontario schools to protest regressive changes to sex education. Like those kids, he’s found his voice at a
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Dominic Harrison, aka Yungblud, resisted attempts to turn him into the next Justin Bieber.