Harry Styles Curated
English singer, songwriter and actor
CURATED BY :
Harry Styles speaks about Queen, Pink Floyd and other musical influences
I couldn’t really get it, but I just remember being like – this is really f***ing cool. Then my mom would always have Shania Twain, and Savage Garden, Norah Jones going on. I had a great childhood. I’ll admit it
Harry Styles opens about his famous Central Park date with Taylor Swift
I think: Relationships are hard, at any age. And adding in that you don’t really understand exactly how it works when you’re 18, trying to navigate all that stuff didn’t make it easier. I mean, you’re a little bit awkward to begin with. You’re on a date with someone you really like. It should be that simple, right? It was a learning experience for sure. But at the heart of it – I just wanted it to be a normal date
Harry Styles talks about the One Direction hiatus decision
I didn’t want to exhaust our fan base. If you’re shortsighted, you can think, ‘Let’s just keep touring,’ but we all thought too much of the group than to let that happen. You realize you’re exhausted and you don’t want to drain people’s belief in you
Harry Styles speaks about finding balance and keeping some g’dang mystery in life
I like to separate my personal life and work. It helps, I think, for me to compartmentalize. It’s not about trying to make my career longer, like I’m trying to be this ‘mysterious character,’ because I’m not. When I go home, I feel like the same person I was at school. You can’t expect to keep that if you show everything. There’s the work and the personal stuff, and going between the two is my favorite shit. It’s amazing to me
Harry Styles speaks about On the wisdom of teenage girls
Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick
On starting his solo career
I wanted to step up. There were songs I wanted to write and record, and not just have it be ‘Here’s a demo I wrote.’ Every decision I’ve made since I was 16 was made in a democracy. I felt like it was time to make a decision about the future … and maybe I shouldn’t rely on others.
What kinds of things?
Everything you were talking about – just the state of the world at the moment. It’s very much me looking at that. It’s a time when it’s very easy to feel incredibly sad about a lot of things. It’s also nice sometimes to remember that while there’s a lot of bad stuff, there’s also a lot of amazing people doing amazing things in the world.
You were making this album in the time of Brexit, Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump. Did any of that outside chaos make it into the songwriting?
We’re in a difficult time, and I think we’ve been in many difficult times before. But we happen to be in a time where things happening around the world are absolutely impossible to ignore. I think it would’ve been strange to not acknowledge what was going on at all. For example, “Sign of the Times”, for me, it’s looking at several different things. That’s me commenting on different things.
You’ve spoken with a real respect for the tastes of teenage girls, who have driven a lot of your popularity.
When people have fans that are younger girls, people assume that their opinion on the music is tainted by desires that aren’t based around music. When, in fact, I believe that fans that I’ve had in the past, if anything, expect and demand more. Fans are usually the first people to tell you when stuff’s not good enough. And I just think it’s a little naive to just write off younger female fans, in particular, in the way people do. Like I’ve said, young girls were massive fans of the Beatles. It’s crazy to think that they’re not intelligent.
Well, given how closely fans like to parse your every word, little things can create an uproar.
I’ve never felt the need to explain myself in terms of my personal life. I very much feel like writing is the way you get to say what you want to say and be like, “That’s all I have to say on it.” With that one, I think it’s up to everyone’s interpretation, which is obviously an incredibly diplomatic answer. The line in particular, in context of the verse, paints the picture of the feeling that I was going at. It’s much more powerful when not taken simply as what it is. Was that an all right answer for that question? I think it was all right! I think we danced around that OK.
There’s a handful of more 12A subject matter on the album. Was it liberating to be able to act your age?
Starting out with no reference points for the actual sound, the only thing that I knew I wanted to be was honest. I didn’t want to sit and edit lyrics. In the times of going, “Oh, can I say that?” I wanted to be like, “Yeah, I can – because that’s what I wrote.”
There aren’t a lot of mainstream pop stars going the rock route right now. Did that feel like a risk?
That’s just what my references are. A lot of people, when they make music, they build a wall between them and fans. They think: “We’ll do this because people will get it.” I really wanted to make an album that I wanted to listen to. That was the only way I knew I wouldn’t look back on it and regret it. It was more, “What do I want to sit and listen to?” rather than, “How do I shake up compared to what’s on radio right now?”
Was there added pressure in being the one who had final say?
The guys that I was working with (the writers and producers Jeff Bhasker, Alex Salibian, Tyler Johnson and Kid Harpoon), we were kind of all working it out together. But in terms of choosing the songs and the track listing, it was probably time for me to have to make some decisions for myself and not be able to hide behind anyone else. As a person, too, probably. Everything, workwise, that I’d done since I was 16 was made in a democracy.
How did writing and recording in Jamaica influence the album?
I went there because I didn’t want to be around distractions. The thing with being in London, or LA, or pretty much anywhere that you know people, is it’s tough, because you go into the studio for ten hours, and then, at some point, everyone has to eat, and you go home. I just wanted to really dive into it and immerse myself. It became this fluid thing that we were just doing all of the time, rather than going in from nine to five. I also didn’t want to be around people who might tell me what (the music) should sound like.