BlackBook Interview w/ Brit Rocker Yungblud + His Guide to Authentic, Indie London
Since he exploded onto the UK music scene in 2017, we haven’t been able to get enough of Yungblud’s guts-and-glory punk anthems. At a time when music artists mostly shrink from controversy, his songs take on such exigent topics as sexual assault (“Polygraph Eyes”) and soulless gentrification (“Tin Pan Boy”) with a lyrical wit and bite that put him far above his guitar-wielding musical contemporaries.
His debut, self-titled EP was released this month to rave reviews from a press eager to extoll the virtues of something of genuine substance. He’ll also be bringing his exhilarating live act back to the States this spring for an extended tour.
In the meantime, we caught up for an enlightening chat with him – and, expanding on the message of “Tin Pan Boy,” asked him to turn us on to his fave authentic, indie spots in London.
There are UK artists like yourself and Shame that are speaking up in a confrontational, socio-political way. Why do you think there are not more musicians doing so?
I think because it’s risky. I think you just gotta do it in the right way, ‘coz no one wants to be preached to or told what to think, you know? Ultimately, I’m just angry, speaking about what’s going on in my head and saying what I think about the world in the music I love. I’m not trying to tell people what to think but to just speak!
Have you found that your fans are actively responding to your lyrics? Are they getting swept up into the message?
It’s the best feeling for me when people send me a message or tweet me about what they’re upset about, angry about or proud of in relation to my music. When I was growing up it was mainly Alex Turner and Eminem’s lyrics that made me feel better when I was confused. The dream for me is for people to relate to my music and put it on when they need an answer or just wanna jump around and let it out!
“Tin Pan Boy” is about the gentrification of Soho. Do you feel artists and creatives are getting priced out of London?
Yeah, I don’t want to live in a world where there’s 28 of the same coffee shops in a row down a street. I think it’s important that areas with an individuality and a history of artistic soul remain alive or everything is going to become sterile like a doctor’s surgery.
What were you listening to and inspired by when you recorded your debut EP?
I am completely in love with rock and roll music and hip hop simultaneously, I think they come from the same soul. They are genres of music that are more than the music, they’re an attitude, a feeling, and speak about something real. I thought, “why can’t I take elements of both genres and glue them together?” I am inspired by artists like Kanye West, Lorde, Eminem, NWA and Trippie Red, as well as the Arctic Monkeys, Blondie, Joe Strummer and Kurt Cobain. They are all definitely integral to the music I make.
Does it seem like guitar music is making a comeback in the UK?
I think it’s gonna come back full circle worldwide to be honest, and that’s really exciting.
Will you be coming back to the States to tour?
Yes, I’m heading out with K.FLAY across the country in March and I can’t wait. She’s such an insane artist and switched on person. I think she views the world in a very similar way to me and we share the same ideologies.
Yungblud’s London Faves
This place is an underground German beer hall in London Bridge, where they serve huge steins of beer and have an oompah band that play bangers all night. You’ll probably find me in there on a Saturday night totally intoxicated screaming my head off to “Don’t Stop Me Now!”
I literally grew up on this street, I first picked up a guitar here. Tin Pan Alley is where the foundations of British rock and roll and pop music were built, I feel a connection to it. It has a sick vibe, lots of history and there’s always music blasting outta the shops into the street. It’s a bit of a time warp.
I’m obsessed with Asian food; my mates took me here once and I got hooked. It’s dimly lit, feels rock and roll and the dim sum is just the best!
It’s a classic…me and my guitar player love to walk down it, grab some food off one of the street food stands and watch the street players – they’re the best.
Upstairs is an insane Mexican restaurant and downstairs is a sneaky sick tequila bar, that almost feels like it’s a secret. Perfect spot if you’re feeling lit in Soho and if you ask they will bring Mexican food to you downstairs.
Again another classic, but this place just makes me happy. The absolute best market, that stretches for about a mile – there is such a community here and on a Saturday it’s just mental! If I feel down, this is the place I go to pick myself up and get inspired again.