YUNGBLUD: From inspiration to execution

By Steph Wetzel

Features Contributor

YUNGBLUD, also known as Dominic Harrison, is a 19-year-old rock and hip-hop artist. He’s one of few artists today who’s lyrics actually have meaning to them. Harrison acknowledges political issues in all of his songs. He feels rock and hip-hop are more than music, which is what led him to drop out of school at age 16 to pursue his passion in writing and performing music.

The young artist opened for K.Flay on Tuesday night at the Town Ballroom. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview him prior to the concert. When I walked up to him to introduce myself, I was planning on shaking his hand, but before I even had the chance to, he held his arms wide open for a hug. He also asked me how I was doing at least twice. I can easily say that my first impression of him was that he is one of the friendliest people I have ever met, and that certainly did not change as the interview progressed. He pulled out a chair for me and sat on the counter in front of me, his feet dangling.

The first thing he told me was that this was his first time in Buffalo. Naturally, I asked him what he thought, specifically what he thought of the cold. He told me he had the best chicken wings of his entire life and that everywhere else in the world, including the UK, where he is from, needs to step up their game. He also told me he was used to the cold, being from Northern England, and referenced Game of Thrones when mentioning the cold.

I asked him what inspired him to call himself YUNGBLUD, to which he told me, there isn’t anything metaphorical about it. He mentioned once he found his management company, he was the youngest one, leading them to call him young blood. He said he thought Dominic Harrison sounded too polite and even thought young blood spelled with the letter ‘O’ sounded too polite, which led him to replace the ‘O’s with the letter ‘U,’ perfectly suiting his energetic and free-spirited personality.

The band Arctic Monkeys, specifically their lead singer Alex Turner, have been a huge inspiration to YUNGBLUD. Other interviewers have even compared the two of them. Harrison told me he grew up listening to this “dark haired northern boy” in addition to rap artist Eminem, and that they were the only two people who understood him growing up. Swinging his feet while looking me directly in the eye, he told me being compared to him is “[Expletive] unreal.” We talked about the fact that he dropped out of school to do exactly what Alex Turner has done. I asked him how he felt about dropping out of school. He scratched his head and proceeded to tell me that he finished high school. He said high school made him feel misunderstood, people simply thought he was misbehaved or different.

After high school, he decided to go to art school, thinking they would understand him better. He realized art school was even worse, he described it as suffocating. “They just were telling me how to do things and how to express myself,” Harrison said. “That’s a big part of why I write this music today. All my life I’ve been told what to think, what I should do, what I should say, what I should believe.” He described the world today as a confusing place for younger generations, and emphasized that younger generations are able to make those types of decisions on their own. He talked with his hands and asked me if I knew what he meant, I shook my head yes. He believes younger generations are being held back by generations before them. At that point, he knew exactly what he wanted his lyrics to say. He knew he wanted to acknowledge political issues in his music.

Harrison was amazed at how he went from being in England to touring and ending up in Buffalo in less than a year. People have direct messaged him on Instagram and Twitter and told him his music gives them a voice. His song “Polygraph Eyes” is a song about sexual assault and one he is most proud of. Girls have direct messaged him and told him that because of this song, they feel comfortable talking about this issue. “(Expletive), the whole artist thing, this is what I do it for,” he stated. He even admitted he didn’t realize how much of an issue sexual assault was until he grew up and saw the world through his own eyes. He explained it as not seeing the world through glasses, as he made his hands into circles and put them over his eyes, pretending they were glasses. Harrison knew he wanted that song on his EP even though it was written a year ago because he wanted it to be said from a male’s point of view. He pushed his hair back and broke eye contact with me, and stared behind me, thinking. In his words, he went from being angry with his friends to giving people answers.

YUNGBLUD’s performance followed the interview. The crowd consisted mainly of teenagers and young adults with dark lipstick, thick eyeliner, flannels and some already wearing their K.Flay t-shirts that they just purchased. The girls behind me were sending Snapchats while waiting for the concert to start. The show was full of energy from start to finish. He had his knees bent and his back on the ground as he played his guitar, like any old-school rockstar. The audience could clearly see the passion he has for this music when he danced and jumped around to it. He jumped onto the fence that separated the photography area and the audience, the audience screaming. He kissed his guitarist, flipped the photographers off and banged his head along to the music. When he performed his final song of the night “Tin Pan Boy,” the people behind me were jumping around so much, I thought I was going to get knocked over. “My voice hurts, my (expletive) legs hurt, my head hurts, I’m tired,” Harrison said, “But I don’t care because I’m having the time of my life.”

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