Gen Z rocker Yungblud does not care about selling records or popularity
Hailed as a Gen Z saviour of rock music, British singer Yungblud’s music pulls in hundreds of millions of streams online.
But the 25-year-old does not really care all that much about being popular.
“It’s not just about hit songs on the radio, it’s about an identity, a movement and a way of life,“ he tells The Straits Times in an interview at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore.
He was in town to perform at Music Is Universal, an invite-only showcase at Capitol Theatre on Tuesday.
It was organised by Universal Music Singapore and featured other artistes under its roster, such as American indie-pop singer Hayd, Singapore-based musician lullaboy, Filipino singer Zack Tabudlo and Thai-Belgian alt-pop singer Violette Wautier.
Yungblud says he wants instead to use his music to unite people and bring positive change in the world.
A video of him speaking out for Ms Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman whose death while in the custody of Iran’s morality police sparked protests all over the country, recently made headlines in the music press.
It was taken at his concert in Delaware, United States, on Sept 24, and showed him urging his audience to join him in standing up for freedom and the women in Iran.
“I write songs and use my art to make change in the world,” says Yungblud, whose songs pull in a monthly average of over eight million streams on Spotify alone.
“If I can change someone’s perception or encourage him that he has something to say, that means more to me than a million records sold. Music is my vehicle to express my voice and tell people that they have a voice too.”
He says that because of his punk-inspired fashion choices, which often includes safety pins pierced through his tongue and nose, many people assume that his music is overtly aggressive all the time.
His latest and third self-titled album dispels that notion with genre-blending songs that contain confessional lyrics dealing with his insecurities and past trauma.
“It’s boring if someone’s shouting in your face, and you hear them for three minutes. I want my shows to be a variation. I want everything. I want you to jump, I want you to be angry, I want you to be sad, I want you to laugh, I want you to be happy, I want you to cry. I want my shows to be a range of emotions,” he says.
The Music Is Universal show was Yungblud’s first in Singapore. He was scheduled to stage a concert here in 2020, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
He wants to return to Singapore to do a bigger concert and is planning a global arena tour.
“We have four months to build a global arena show that is going to be the most incredible spectacle people have seen,” he says.
“I want to put on the best rock show in the world, the standard of Green Day, Queen, Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones.”
Having acted in British television series such as Disney musical drama The Lodge (2016 to 2017), the former actor – born Dominic Richard Harrison in Yorkshire – is keen on returning to acting. He even tried out for a role as Johnny Rotten, singer of British punk band Sex Pistols, in the biopic series Pistol (2022).
He did not get the gig, but is hopeful for a shot at an upcoming biopic on another iconic English band, Culture Club, and play lead singer Boy George. “I’ve been talking to Boy George’s people about that, potentially,” he says.