Listen up, world: Yungblud’s got something to say to you. This 20-year-old Brit has the sound of Jamie T and the Arctic Monkeys, and the lyrical magic to match. He uses his powers for good—namely, to direct audiences’ attention toward social issues like sexual assault and reckless capitalism. Uncorrupted by cliché or convention, he’s the perfect person to add to your spring playlists if you want to bob your head to music that’s just as catchy as it is spiritually fulfilling.
Recently, I had the chance to chat with Yungblud the night he opened for K. Flay at the 9:30 Club. After he greeted some fans with big hugs and cheery conversation, we talked about his lyrics and tour life. He was laid-back in demeanor, smiling and sticking his tongue out frequently, but shone with sincerity when discussing the serious topics that he was clearly passionate about. Read on to learn more about Yungblud’s universe, including his riveting new tracks “Polygraph Eyes” (whose video just premiered) and “I Love You, Will You Marry Me.”
TYF: Would you like to tell us a little about one of your favorite songs that you performed tonight?
Yungblud: The song right now that’s really important to me is “Polygraph Eyes.” We played it fifth in the set. It’s really important to me because it’s about such an important issue. It tells the story of drunk girls being taken advantage of by drunk boys on their nights out. All my music is about political issues and just saying what I think is wrong with the world. And this was an issue I grew up around and felt I needed to talk about. I remember going out in my early teens and kind of seeing girls stumble out of nightclubs. Drunk girls stumbling out of nightclubs with boys that weren’t nearly as drunk as them and getting into taxis with them. And the thing was, it didn’t resonate how fundamentally wrong it was till I grew up and moved out of the city and saw the world for what was, because we’re brought up in a society where this “lad mentality” is vastly accepted. I needed to write this song because the movement of female empowerment… It’s just so incredible. I wrote the song a year ago, and when we were deciding the songs to be on the EP, I said, “I need this song to be on it” because I need to have my say from a male perspective. I don’t want to remain silent, you know? So that one, I’m so excited about right now. And it’s the latest release.
TYF: It’s a great track. One of the other ones I love is “I Love You, Will You Marry Me.” That one’s about a piece of graffiti, right?
Yungblud: Yeah, man. It’s about a story that’s really close to home for me. It’s like—you call it projects over here, project housing. Basically, it tells the story of a council estate in Sheffield. It’s on top of this massive hill, called Park Hill Estate. And by the nineties it got so run down, and it tells the story of a young couple from that. And this young couple fell in love. And one day, the guy suspended himself over a bridge and spray-painted “I Love You Will U Marry Me” across the bridge because you can see Park Hill all over Sheffield. And he took her to the bottom of the hill into the city center and proposed like that, but then things turned sour because social services said that he wasn’t fit to be a father, and then she later died, and then corporate companies put neon lights over the graffiti and redevelop the council estate and turned it into flats and used that to sell the flats. And a beer brand called themselves “I Love You Will U Marry Me” and merchandising companies exploited it. So it’s my comment on [how] corporate companies are taking advantage of something that’s as precious as love. Like, he asked for a house. He became homeless. They didn’t give him one. He asked for some money. They gave him nothing. I just thought that was fucked up, man.
TYF: As we’ve talked about, a lot of your songs revolve around social issues. Since you’ve gotten deeper into the music industry, have you seen any social problems within it that you’d like to comment on?
Yungblud: Obviously, sexual assault is a big thing in music right now, especially in entertainment as a whole. That’s definitely, definitely a big issue… [Also,] growing up, I felt very misunderstood because I’ve got a lot of energy, and a lot of people, even artistically, didn’t understand me and the way I was expressing myself. That’s what one of the songs called “Anarchist” is about. It’s about people misunderstanding my energy and putting me in a box just because I didn’t conform to a certain thing, when at the end of the day, all you can ever be is fundamentally yourself, and if you’re trying to be something else, then you’re not you.
TYF: Tonight was your first night on tour, right?
Yungblud: It was.
TYF: What are you most excited about going forward?
Yungblud: Ah, man, I just fucking think Kristine [Meredith Flaherty, a.k.a. K. Flay] is such an incredible artist, so I can’t wait to go on tour with her. I remember when I got the call about it. It was like, “K. Flay said she’d love you to come on tour with her.” I was like, “You fucking kidding me?” And then, to be touring in the U.S…. It’s my first time touring in the U.S. It’s just crazy.
TYF: That’s awesome. Have you been to the U.S. before?
Yungblud: Yeah, man. I came out and did a little miniature first tour last year, but this is a real, proper tour, so I’m so excited.
TYF: Which cities are you most excited to see?
Yungblud: I’m definitely excited to see Houston, Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Canada… everything. And D.C. tonight, I was at the Capitol. Amazing.
Check out Brittany Menjivar’s photos of Yungblud at the 9:30 Club below.