You’re our Artist Of The Year! How does that feel?
“It feels absolutely mental. It feels like it’s reflective of everything that has happened over the past year. Every single day I can’t believe something is happening. Everything feels unfathomable. I was never doing this for any other reason than to find a community of people who can come together to make each other’s worlds a bit more tolerable. Now I’m winning awards? Crazy.”
Seeing something that you’ve created deliver physical accolades must be so bizarre when it’s something you’d never really considered, yet it’s a physical marker of just how much this has actually grown.
“Absolutely. The thing about it is that Yungblud is still becoming less and less about me. It’s us. It’s a unit. It’s a way of thinking and a way of talking and a way of being. It’s becoming more and more of that every single day all over the world. I’ve never looked at ticket sales, I’m too busy trying to meet and talk to people. Yet I’ll turn up at a venue and go, ‘Fuck me, this is massive’ and someone will say, ‘Yeah, you’ve sold 2,500 tickets in Russia tonight’, and I’m just like, ‘What?’”
So let’s go back to the start of the year. What were you thinking when the clock hit midnight on New Year’s Eve and 2019 was officially here?
“That this was going to be my year. 2018 had happened. We had played all of these tours and had offers flying at us but most importantly we had this fanbase that was small but just as loyal and mutual as it is now. I just knew I had to grow that tenfold. I feel like when the clock strikes 12 at the end of this year I will be thinking the exact same thing as well.”
At any point did you feel any doubt or fear of what was to come? No matter how much faith you have in your vision there is still a hell of a lot of pressure.
“Always. Of course it’s scary because a lot of people are relying on you. But then you learn to rely on them as well. There’s such a mutual admiration between me and the people I surround myself with. It’s not just a case of people loving me and I’m sat in some hotel with a glass of champagne. That’s never been what it’s about. People ask me if I’m into drugs or partying and the truth is that I am obsessed with this. Yungblud is what makes me feel happy and it provides other people with happiness. That’s the best feeling in the world and I don’t want anything to numb or change or disrupt that.”
What did 2018 teach you in preparation for what 2019 had to offer, then?
“Last year taught me to just ride the rollercoaster and don’t try and slam the emergency break. Don’t even hold it. Just let yourself fall. Some stuff will hurt but some stuff will be cushioned as fuck. The thing is that people ask me if I’m exhausted yet and I say, ‘Not really’. If I was playing an act in all of this then I would be tired. The fact is that I’m getting to be myself for the first time in my life. I feel the opposite of exhausted. I feel energised and invigorated because we are just doing our thing. I feel like I belong within this. I always say to people that if you feel like you don’t belong anywhere, then this is exactly where you belong. You belong here with me. These people around you will love you and support you and defend you and accept you for exactly who you are.”
The community that you’ve built around you is what it is because the people in it know that everything you say and do is genuine. If it were an act people would see right through it.
“Exactly. This is what it is because I am still basically that kid in the crowd looking up at the stage. A story comes to mind from when I was playing Chicago this year. Every show I meet the first 100 kids in line for free. I don’t believe in them having to pay. Anyway, a mum came up to me with her daughter and said, ‘I’m an ICE agent and I don’t think you can keep up this act forever’. Her kid was next to her and she had a shaved head and a septum piercing. She continued saying, ‘We are raiding tonight and we are going to get these pieces of shit out of our country’. I was just like, ‘I don’t accept or appreciate that you would bring that up, so please go and speak to my manager and I will talk to your kid’. So I had a decision to make in that moment, do I kick this person out because she stands for everything that I’m fighting against or do I let her stay? The thing is if I kicked her out I am exactly the same as them and that young person probably needs us in that moment more than anybody else. For me, that replicates the journey that I’ve been on as well. Those internal struggles I’ve felt throughout my whole life.”
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