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Interview

Harry Styles On Being A Solo Artist, Planning OOTDs, and Female Empowerment In Music

By  November 23, 2017

Decked out in a casual black tee and a pair of black vans, Harry Styles was your typical 23-year-old prior to the start of his first solo show in Singapore.

One could easily fall into the trap of aggressively taking photos of Harry during his short chat with the media. But the intimate press conference was an experience like no other – people actually paying attention to what a musician had to say, instead of documenting his presence in the same room.

For that, we were allowed a peek into one of today’s most sought-after artist’s perspective, whether performing alone for the first time, being a music fan himself, or empowering women through music.

Read more about what went down during the press conference below.

 

How does it feel to be back on tour with your own band this time around?

It’s exciting. It’s definitely different, but I like trying different things. I wasn’t on the road for a couple of years and performing’s my favorite part of being in music. I’m having a lot of fun.

 

What’s your favorite song to perform onstage?
I think it’s probably Kiwi. It’s the one where it’s so much different live than when it’s on the album.  Every night I feel this energy from the crowd. They’ve been so amazing every time that we’ve played it. I love playing these songs and I just think Kiwi’s a standout, kind of highlight for me. Some of my favorite moments from the tour have been during Kiwi.

 

Where do you get inspiration from when writing all the songs on your album?

When you sit down and write, it’s a combination of stuff that you grew up listening to and anything you’ve ever heard. It’s hard not to be influenced by the things that you grew up on and what your parents were listening to. That kind of forms the basis of what you grow up thinking music is. Every time that you listen to something and you like something that you haven’t heard before or work out that you don’t like it, it all comes together and forms what you would want to make and what you’d listen to if it was yours. It’s constantly changing every time you listen to music. You use it as an influence in different ways. The foundation of what you hold as your reference of what music is is probably what your parents listen to and what’s played in the house as you’re growing up.

 

You’re well-known for your fashion taste and fans in Asia all love your different outfits. What’s your favorite look and what’s your consideration when picking out an outfit for the day?

It’s nothing crazy, but for the shows, it’s important to me that it’s fun. I want the show to feel like what I think the music sounds like. Clothes are just another way of expressing yourself and I think being able to do that with music and onstage as part of a show makes it so much fun for me to be able to experiment different things. I just wear stuff that I think is fun and I’ll be comfortable in onstage, and what I think will look good for the show. In terms of picking, sometimes stuff jumps out at you depending on where you are.

 

You’re going to have arena tours for this album next year. How is it going to be different from this theatre show?

I’m starting to think about what that show is going to be now and I’m trying to get some ideas together. I think it’s important that every show, whether the venues change or not, get a little bit bigger and a little bit better than the one before. Although I’ve toured before, this is the first time I’m doing it on my own and I feel like this tour I’ve learned so much about what it is to perform on my own. I feel like it’s been a big learning experience for me. So, going into the next one, there are a lot of things that I’ve learned that I didn’t know before. It’s always been important to me that the show is good because I want people to come even if they’re not necessarily the biggest fan of the music they can leave and appreciate the show and come and have a good time. It’s important to make sure that the show is always growing, change some stuff up and put some surprises in. So I’m looking forward to working out exactly what’s that gonna be.

 

What was it like when you did a show by yourself for the first time?

It was one of the most nerve-wracking things I think. During the shows, there were always a couple of places where I had to do things or speak or whatever. I was very aware that I was on my own. So that was interesting. But I really enjoyed doing that and trying to embrace it, it’s a lot of fun. I guess I enjoy the attention. So it’s been good, it’s been fun.

 

This is your first solo album - the grunge, the rock and the vast difference to what we heard previously. Is this the real Harry Styles or are we in for more sonic changes?

Every album represents a snapshot of time of where [a musician is at] at that point. For me, I felt that it was a lot of getting out stuff that I’d thought about in the past and stories that I wanted to tell. It’s an album that I wanted to make, but I didn’t necessarily know technically how it sounded. It’s difficult to tell exactly how something’s gonna sound. I’m sure it’s not gonna be exactly the same. I think it’s just as important to grow and develop and learn new things just as much as it is to have [a] foundation of who you are. There’s a lot of different stuff on the album and there’s a lot of different sounds and a lot of that is that I was working out what my first album was gonna sound like and what I would sound like as a solo artist. I was happy for people to go through that with me and experience all the different kinds of things. So I’m excited to see what the next album brings. I don’t think it will be too crazy far away, but I also think it’s important to embrace different things. I’ve learned a lot since this has come out about what I’d do differently and things that I liked. Touring has been a different experience and I’ve experienced a lot of different things since the first one came out. I feel lucky that I get to take all of that experience into the next one. I’m very excited to see what comes out at the end of it.

 

Did you get to decide what’s going to be on your album on your own or did everybody worked and put it together?

I worked with a group, a couple of guys that I've never worked with before. All of my favorite stuff is usually honest and the stuff that I connect with the most. The one thing that I knew I wanted to do when making this album was be honest. Going into a room with people you don't know is not always particularly easy to do - to open up and be honest about things that have hurt you and when you've made mistakes. That could be quite difficult. When I found a group of guys that I felt comfortable doing that with, I knew from that point that I wanted to make the whole album with them. A lot of them, it was their first time making this album this way too. It very much felt like we were a band working out what it was together. I got lucky that each person working on it had this much investment in the album and wanted it to be as good as I did. We very much listened to each other and talked a lot of things out. Ultimately, I have to perform it and it's my words, so to a degree that gives you a bit of decision-making power I guess. But I think we were all very much into it together and we all wanted it to be great.

 

Has your experience in films, especially Dunkirk, influenced your work ethic and artistry?

The main positive for me from doing the film was that for months, and possibly before that, I've always had a thought of if I was ever gonna make a record of my own, what it might sound like and what I wanted it to be. You go through so many different thoughts that start overlapping each other and become this mush. What the film let me do is kind of put music aside for a while and not think about it for 5 or 6 months. I never had that break from thinking about what was an album gonna sound like. By the time the filming finished, I was just thankful to not be swimming in freezing cold water and be writing songs. It kind of felt that I was going back to it fresh. You don't really get that chance if you're constantly thinking about music. I think it's really rare to have a restart button. I think the film helped me in that sense. I felt that I was coming back to writing music after a long break of not thinking about it at all, which I think was great for me.

 

Majority of your fans are young girls for whom you've shown a lot of pride and faith in. How do you ensure that they stay empowered and make the music scene a safe space for them?

I think music is and should be a safe space for everyone. I don't see why that would ever or should ever exclude women. I've said it before; I've been incredibly lucky to have the support that I've had through my time in music and touring. I feel very lucky for that. It's often dismissed a little bit - younger girls' taste in things. I still don't really understand that at all. Women and girls, in particular, are very much the future and our future. I feel very lucky to get to play in front of such an amazing group of strong women and men every night. It's something that I feel very honored to get to do. I feel incredibly grateful to be able to play in front of groups of such amazing people. Music, in general, is something that is so individual. Not everyone's taste is the same at all. It's something that can't be taken away from you. That in itself is incredibly powerful.

 

Between putting out an album and going on a world tour, acting, and performing in a Victoria Secret fashion show as a solo artist... What are the top 3 most enjoyable and memorable moments for you so far?

I'd say finishing the album was a big one for me. I've always loved performing so much and touring and doing shows. I've always really enjoyed writing music and being in the studio. This was the first time that I really got to immerse myself in the studio part of things. I'd never got to make an album this way. It was just one of the best times I ever had in my life, making this album. I just had the best time with the group of people I didn't really know, who now I consider some of my closest friends. I kind of fell in love with the studio side of music. If I wasn't lucky before, I consider myself that I was, I’m definitely lucky now that I get to do two sides of something that I love so much. So I'd say finishing that and when it was done, listening through it and realizing it was finished is definitely a highlight for me. Seeing Stevie Nicks is something that I'll never forget. I was a fan of her; I grew up listening to her music. It was pretty crazy to get to perform with her in The Troubadour as well. When we sound checked was probably my actual highlight because we were in an empty room and it was just me and her. That definitely was very special to me, something that I'll never forget. Then I think just the tour in general, I had so much fun doing it. It's so nice to get out and see people and I love playing these songs so much. People coming to your shows is the nicest thing that someone could do for you. They get a ticket and not only did they drive and come to the show, they listen and cheer for you if they like it. The whole experience is something that I don't really know anything that I've experienced that I could compare it to. It's just the greatest feeling I could possibly imagine. I feel so grateful to get to do it. I'm definitely looking forward to coming back around.

 

You have a huge fanbase in Asia, specifically in Korea where the mainstream music is K-pop. Any words for your Korean fans?

Just a massive thank you for the support. I hope I get out there soon. It's amazing to get to do this at any level. If I was just playing shows in England and if I was putting music out in England, I would feel incredibly lucky. The fact that I get to do it and travel around and meet lots of amazing people is something that I don't know I could ever top with anything else. I feel incredibly lucky to have this support and everyone who's allowed me to travel this way and play shows. The fact that people are coming to the shows is amazing. I only have 10 songs, so I feel pretty amazing I'm getting to do this right now. So a massive thank you [to] people in Korea and everywhere else for the support that you've shown me over the last few years and since the single and the album came out. I've been truly blown away, so thank you so much for everything.

******

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