Al­ways opin­ion­ated and out­spo­ken, Do­minic Har­ri­son found his voice through mu­sic, but not with­out a strug­gle

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - By Mike Usinger

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.

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