Yungblud’s new EP is called The Underrated Youth, because that’s exactly who it’s for. “We aren’t just bratty kids screaming for attention,” the Doncaster, England-born 22-year-old tells Billboard. “We genuinely give a fuck about the world and the place we live in and what is right and what is true. This EP says the future is going to be bright, simply because we’re fucking in it.”
The artist (real name: Dominic Harrison) speaks with a clear passion on a recent phone call, whether he’s talking about his new EP, live shows or musical inspiration. Yet there’s one common denominator he seems to keep coming back to: his fans.
“I’ve been enlightened on how much less of just me this project is,” he explains. “Yungblud is 50 percent me and 50 percent my audience. It’s not me and them, it’s us.”
It’s a big change from his 2018 debut album, 21st Century Liability, which saw the artist focusing more on personal experiences and preoccupations. The past year included those, of course, but also contentious political events that angered both his fans and himself. “You ask a person if they’re into politics five to eight years ago and they’ll go, ‘No, fuck no,’” he says. “But nowadays, we have to.
“The one thing I see in young people each day though is the constant passion to rise… To fight for the need to be equal,” he continues. “You just gotta look at examples, like Greta [Thunberg], relevant as fuck. Emma Gonzalez for March For Our Lives — I was in Atlanta at that march. I had a show in Atlanta that night and I remember marching. People underestimate the power of young people.” This idea is best explored on the track “Hope For The Underrated Youth,” where Yungblud sings, “Got called an alien for bein' myself / I ain't got the patience to be someone else,” over heavy drums.
Another highlight on the EP is “Original Me,” featuring Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds; the explosive track is fueled by a sense of paranoia, with the two artists growling back and forth with convincing energy. Yungblud still can’t believe he got the Imagine Dragons frontman on the track. “I watched him at Leeds Fest like six years ago and was like ‘Holy shit, man!’” he says. “It was when ‘Radioactive’ had just come out. I was obsessed with this band, and now I’m doing a record with the lead singer… like, what?!”
Yungblud says that Reynolds initially reached out to him as a sign of appreciation for his advocacy for the LGBTQ community. “He said, ‘The world ain’t ready for you yet, and I wanna do a record with you and help you as much as I can,’” he recalls. “And I’m just like, ‘This is Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons, I’ve just shit my pants.’”
Yungblud also recently contributed to the most recent 13 Reasons Why soundtrack with his single, “Die A Little.” “I admire it because, as someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, it highlights it to a part of society that would never normally see it,” he says of the Netflix series, which has garnered controversy for its graphic depiction of issues like teen suicide and rape. “Yes, it’s triggering. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to watch… But you know what’s more uncomfortable? Someone looking you in the face and going, ‘What you’re going through is unjustified. It’s just a phase. You’ll get through it.’ Because they’re not educated on it. What it does is what all good art should do — it shines a light and provides education on a subject in society in order to make people understand.”
Yungblud is currently on a “fucking mental” tour as The Underrated Youth has finally arrived. “I want this EP to be a trust exercise,” Yungblud says with a laugh. “You know, when you fall back and someone catches you. I want people to have that sense of belonging, like someone’s going to have their back.”