With his black eyeliner and punk persona, Dominic Harrison, better known as Yungblud, may seem intimidating at first glance. But the second he cracks his wide, genuine smile and says a few words in his charming English accent, it’s clear the opposite is true.
Harrison grew up in Doncaster and moved to London at 16 to pursue a creative lifestyle, with more than music on his mind. He also recently announced a comic book collaboration with Z2 Comics and Ryan O’Sullivan called The Twisted Tales of the Ritalin Club. And he wants to become an actor. He was featured in six episodes of Disney TV series “The Lodge” in 2016.
Obviously, Harrison is adaptable. But his sense of self, both personally and professionally, wasn’t always so cemented.
“When you don’t know who you are and you’re searching for acceptance, you’re forced to find yourself,” he says. “When you’re put in a position where you’re either going to drown or swim, you teach yourself to swim, whether that’s through drinking, drugs, sex, or rebellion. For me, it was music. I figured out who I was and how to talk about my issues through songwriting. At first, people told me who they thought I should be – they thought I should flutter my eyelashes, wink at the girls and sing pop music with about as much charisma as a pint of water. And I did, until I realized how deeply sad I was. It was just not enough for me.”
“When you don’t know who you are and you’re searching for acceptance, you’re forced to find yourself.”
Thus, Yungblud was born, in an act of protest. His first album, 21st Century Liability, was a breakout hit, establishing a burgeoning international fan base for the band. He has even higher hopes for his forthcoming release.
“I love albums like Good Kid, m.A.A.d City by Kendrick Lamar and Blonde by Frank Ocean that are just so incredibly well thought out,” he says. “21st Century is a concept album, but it was my first one, so I have not nailed it yet. I’m happy I didn’t nail it; I have room to grow, I’m learning, and I’m excited for this next one. The concept is ever-changing, but it’s about the people I meet. You’re the best judge of how you can be the best you – you don’t have to conform to the perception of who people think you should be. This album is almost a tribute to individualism. I want Yungblud to be a community where you can be who you want to be no matter what, without judgment and without hostility.”
Yungblud’s message resonates with his fans so strongly that they’ve formed the Black Hearts Club. It’s exactly what it sounds like – Harrison has a little black heart tattoo, and now thousands of others across the globe do, too.
“It’s so crazy that it just happened because they felt so connected with me, and I felt so connected with them,” says Harrison. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. We put things on our bodies, and now we have a mutual connection. It’s like a code. And I didn’t do it – it was created by them.”
Platforms like social media help break down the wall between artists and audiences and with outlets like the Black Hearts Club, Yungblud wants to break them down altogether.
“I ain’t Yungblud the high and mighty, the person who’s saving the world,” he says. “I’m just a person talking to other people about our issues. I’m wrong sometimes, and they correct me. And they’re wrong sometimes, and I correct them. Yungblud is a community, a conversation. It’s solidarity, energy and excitement.
“My granddad told me that the strongest thing in this world is love and if you spread it, you will save human lives. It doesn’t matter if you save one or a million, you’ve succeeded at life. And I was like, ‘Granddad, that’s fucking crazy.’”