Despite social distancing throughout the world, many artists, including YUNGBLUD, have found unique ways to occupy their time, release music, and connect with their fans. YUNGBLUD has led a movement of community and normalizing being a loner. His first single of the year, “Weird!,” set to appear on his sophomore album, continues to promote that message in spite of the difficult times we’re living in.
At first listen, you might imagine the pop-infused anthem was written while in self-isolation and the struggle to maintain a connection with the outside world. However, “Weird!” was penned after the 22-year-old’s Brixton Academy performance last year. 2019 challenged YUNGBLUD with several major obstacles that have ultimately made him into the person that he is today.
Check out an exclusive interview with YUNGBLUD and listen to “Weird!” in full below.
You described “Weird!” as being a coming-of-age track and that your new album is going to be heavily focused on that topic. Do you still feel like you’re doing a lot of growing up?
Absolutely. I think that’s the thing. Coming of age doesn’t mean growing up to me. You can come of age at 87. That’s the whole thing I want to speak about with this album. You are continually [growing] throughout your life. The meaning of life, to me, is to figure out who you are. Maybe that will change many times. I just want this single and this album to amplify that no matter how weird things get, it’s all gonna be alright in the end as long as we stay together.
And I think I wrote the song about the weirdest time in my life imaginable. I felt like I was walking down the street, and I was amazed because it was continually shape-shifting underneath my feet, and I was gonna fall down the cracks of it. But that led me to learn a lot about myself, accept the parts of myself that I didn’t like, celebrate the parts about myself that I loved and realize there’s gonna be a load of shit out of control. That led me to see what my life was going to be like. And analyze the past and heal myself a lot. It was about a time in my life that was dark and strange and hard. But in the end, I look back on it, and that made me more of the person I am today. And this stuff that happens today is going to make me the person I am tomorrow. It is just a weird time in my life.
I noticed while listening to the track that it has a lot of strong pop elements in it. But it was ironic at the same time because the lyrics feel relatable to the current state of events in our world right now. You actually wrote the track last year while you were going through this massive transition. Has the meaning of the song changed for you at all?
I think it’s just adjusting and amplifying extremely. The euphoric feeling that it gave me, I just want it to give that feeling to people right now. Yes, it is weird [and] it is strange. It is scary [and] frustrating. It’s going to be all right in the end. I wanted it to feel naive. I wanted it to feel spacey and full of contradictions because that’s who we are as people. Everybody since the beginning of time has been 15 different people at once. But we’re the first generation of people to accept that it’s all right to be 15 different people at once. And the world is going to get weird, and things are going to get sad, and things are going to get happy, but it’s all a journey in the end. It’s all of this mental, weird, twisted, topsy-turvy journey that leads you to come of age and figure out for yourself.
When I was writing this song, I was crying my eyes out, and I was envisioning this alternative couple on a bus in London in Fred Perry, Colvin, Warrington, and the rain is pouring down, and the condensation is in the bus because it’s so cold out, splitting a pair of earphones, listening to this song. I want it to be like an episode of Skins.
Being that you were in such a dark place, how did you come out so optimistic about life?
At the same time, I remember I wrote the poem after we played Brixton Academy in the U.K. It was a weird 18 months of my life. I nearly lost my mom in a car accident. I fell in love. The relationship ended. I experienced heartbreak. We got really big really quickly, and I fucked up my ankle twice, which was so frustrating. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t play, I couldn’t perform. I experienced depression even though everything was going amazingly, and I didn’t know why.
And we played Brixton Academy in the U.K., and I remember two years earlier that me, my guitar player and my drummer, the three of us were in a tiny two-bedroom flat, a damp shithole, watching videos of Kasabian and Foo Fighters and Radiohead play Brixton Academy and go, “You know what? If we get there, then everything’s gonna be all right.” And we got that. And it really put things into perspective for me. It made me go, “This has been a beautiful, topsy-turvy, dark, twisted series of events in my life. It’s been so weird. But everything’s gonna be all right.”
So the underrated youth EP was very inspired by fans and their stories, whereas this is a completely different look into your own life. How did you approach that transition?
I think I’m not angry anymore. This is a new era for me. I was so angry. My first album made me feel angry. [On] the EP, I obtained this incredible family that I heard and digested the stories. They told me everything I read about them. And then I got to digest it. They gave me this fucking magical healing cream. And it made me look inside myself and go, “You know what? This next album is gonna be optimistic. It’s going to be about coming of age, and it’s going to be about life.” I know it sounds simple as fuck, but this is an album about individual acceptance and life. That’s it.
Right now is an important time for the world to be united. And one of the things that you’ve always pushed is community and mutual understanding with your audience. Why is that so important for you? And how did you convey that on “Weird!”?
To belong somewhere is everything to me. Because I felt like I never belonged anywhere. But now I do belong somewhere, and there’s never a better time to be unified right now because everybody is feeling the same thing. Some people might not understand your mental health because they don’t experience it. They might not understand the way you feel isolated because of the way you dress. Some people might not understand the way you talk because of the way you talk. Some people may not understand the way you put on fucking makeup, the way you eat a sandwich. They are not your people. Well, that’s fine. You find your people, and you belong in a community.
But I think [in] the community of the world, everyone is feeling the same thing right now. And that is weird. They’re feeling weird. I want to bring as many people outside my fanbase who’ve never heard [of] me before with this song. And I want to reach them because there are so many more people that feel like it’s not all right to be who they are. And there’s so many people who feel bizarre right now and lost and frustrated. I just want to provide them with a fucking big, warm feeling in the belly that makes them feel optimistic for three minutes from listening to the song.
Read more: Yungblud on why the world needs punk rock
“Weird!” makes you feel understood even if you’re feeling alone. And it also makes you feel optimistic and upbeat, even though you’re normalizing what it means to be weird, a misfit, or an outcast.
That’s it because at the end of the day, everyone’s [an] outcast right now because the planet delivered us something that makes us feel the same. I want to give the same feeling as a Depeche Mode track or an LCD Soundsystem track or “Such Great Heights” by the Postal Service.
You opened up on how a moment of vertigo inspired this track, which also feels conveyed in the single art. Is that feeling conveyed through the instrumentation as well?
I wanted it to feel like we were flying or falling or in this sense of spinning around. I want it to feel like you’re missing a step before you listen to this song. There’s so much volume in music and so much stuff going on the world, and songs have such a short shelf life. You put a song out now, and people play it to death, and then they forget about it. I want this song to really [affect] people’s lives and [have] people still listen to this in 50 years. It’s my favorite song I’ve ever written. I just hope this will be some person out there’s favorite song forever.