Since exploding onto the scene with his 2018 debut album 21st Century Liability, YUNGBLUD has traveled the globe and brought his rebel-minded hip-hop infused rock-and-roll to an ever-growing legion of fans. In the midst of his nonstop touring, the London-based artist has built a one-of-a-kind bond with his young audience—a deeply felt solidarity that served as a major touchstone for his new EP, the underrated youth.
“This EP is about all the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard in the past couple of years,” says the 22-year-old singer/songwriter/musician otherwise known as Dominic Harrison. “My fans are constantly telling me about the incredible things they’ve gone through, like coming out to their parents or transitioning to another gender. With every day, every gig, every DM, it’s become less and less about me and more about this whole collective of people coming together to fight for what we believe in.”
Working with producer/songwriters Matt Schwartz (Cold War Kids, Massive Attack, Robbie Williams), Mike Crossey (Artic Monkeys, 21 Pilots, The 1975, Foals) Zakk Cervini (Machine Gun Kelly, The Used), Chris Greatti (Grimes, blink−182), YUNGLBUD approached the making of the underrated youth with greater clarity and grit than ever before. In a deliberate departure from 21st Century Liability, the multi-instrumentalist enlisted his live band for the recording process, injecting even more energy into his notoriously amped-up performance. “We’ve barely been off the road at all for the last two years, so we know each other inside out at this point,” says Harrison of his band. “This EP is all of us in a room together just pouring our hearts out, and I think you can really hear that in the music.”
With its uncompromising and unpredictable sound, the underrated youth unfolds in songs both exhilarating and intensely thoughtful, such as the impassioned lead single “original me.” A collaboration with Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, the fuzzed-out anthem speaks to the urgency of self-celebration—a concept partly inspired by YUNGBLUD’s onstage gender-bending. “Dan and I were talking about how sometimes I wear dresses and fuck with gender norms, so we decided to write a song about being unconditionally yourself,” says Harrison. “Your biggest superpower is your individuality, so you have to completely embrace who you truly are.”
Along with “original me” and the epically heartfelt track, “hope for the underrated youth,” the EP brings YUNGBLUD’s anti-establishment message to songs like “braindead”: a frenetic and furious banger fueled by breakneck rhythms and a reckless vitality described by Harrison as “my ADHD on crack.” “That song’s about the people who put you down you out of pure insecurity, because they’re scared of what you have to say,” he notes. Co-written with hitmaker Justin Tranter (Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Janelle Monáe), “parents” switches gears for a hip-hop-leaning track driven by bass-heavy grooves and YUNGBLUD’s hard-hitting flow, its lyrics offering a potent reminder that “the people closest to you might not always know what’s best for you,” according to Harrison.
Elsewhere on the underrated youth, YUNGBLUD shares some of his most boldly vulnerable material to date. On “casual sabotage,” for instance, moody beats and haunting guitar riffs form the backdrop to his soulful channeling of romantic angst. “‘casual sabotage’ came from thinking about how sometimes when you put your heart on the line, people will abuse it—but that’s their problem,” says Harrison. “It’s my statement to my fans saying, ‘Never stop being real, never stop letting yourself be soft. Keep your heart open, even when it hurts so bad you can’t stand it.’” And on the EP-closing “waiting on the weekend,” YUNGBLUD achieves an unprecedented subtlety, joining forces with his former guitar teacher for an achingly tender love song. “It’s about a girl I used to see on the train platform in London but never had the courage to talk to,” Harrison reveals. “We recorded it completely live, me playing acoustic guitar and my guitar teacher playing a pedal organ from an old Navy ship from the 1600s. I just wanted to show a completely different side of myself.”
Born in Yorkshire, England, Harrison first picked up a guitar at age two, began writing his own songs at age 10, and moved to London to kick-start his music career when he was 16. After sharpening his musical vision by mining inspiration from firebrand artists like The Clash and N.W.A, he independently released his debut single “King Charles” in spring 2017 on his managers indie label LOCOMOTION RECORDINGS and landed a deal with Geffen Records by that summer’s end. Released in 2018, his self-titled debut EP features now-iconic tracks like “I Love You, Will You Marry Me”—a real-life tale of an ill-fated romance at a public housing project in South Yorkshire. With 21st Century Liability arriving in July 2018, YUNGBLUD soon embarked on sold-out headline tours of the U.S. and Europe, in addition to bringing his kinetic live show to leading festivals like Lollapalooza, Reading and Leeds, Austin City Limits, NXNE, Rock Am Ring, the last-ever Vans Warped Tour, and Pukkelpop.
Looking back on his trajectory over the past few years, YUNGBLUD feels a profound sense of wonder, and an undeniable optimism for the road ahead. “Me and my band were living in a council flat two years ago, and now we’re touring the world and getting to spend all this time with the best fans ever,” he says. “In a world that’s consumed with unjustified hate and just expects us to fall in line, they’ve proven to me that my generation has the passion and intelligence to push for real unity and equality. I feel so hopeful now because of the people I get to meet and talk to every day—I know that the future’s bright, because we’re the ones who are creating it.”
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