Harry Styles hasn’t slowed down since the news broke of his debut single ‘Sign of the Times’ getting an official release date. Just hours later, he had a musical guest spot secured on Saturday Night Live – and this was before the song was even released. Days later, his album release date and official track listing went live and during his Saturday Night Live spot – he also released a new song. So if you’re keeping up – that’s more than we’ve heard out of him since One Direction began their hiatus.
That comes with good reason, however, since he’d been working on his debut film role in Christoper Nolan’s Dunkirk and taking the time to write an album the way he’s always wanted to – unrushed. He didn’t write and record songs in hotel rooms and on tour buses, he wasn’t running on a few hours of sleep a week, and he wasn’t limited in his creative ability. He was free to write an album, free to let it say what he wanted it to say – for the first time.
With a name like his, there will always be people interested in his image, and making sure it sells, but Harry is freer now than he ever has been, and we’re only hoping to see that trend continue. He’s one of the few people thrust into Hollywood who has never been affected by it. He’s got the world at his feet and demands nothing from it; he simply takes the good with the bad and remains thankful and humble through it all.
Rolling Stone, specifically Cameron Crowe, sat down with Harry at the beginning of this year for an interview about music, life, and inspiration. Harry spoke about his own and also, inspired readers at home. He’s constantly encouraging people to be kind – to themselves and one another – and he used this specific interview to remind the public that teenage girls, they’re our future. People should be less quick to write them off.
‘…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.‘
Fans of One Direction have called their fanbase a home and Harry has never taken a second of that for granted. He has also never taken a second of being in the band for granted. ‘
‘I love the band, and would never rule out anything in the future. The band changed my life, gave me everything.‘
During their first chapter together, they were given ‘character roles’ of sorts and those characters were marketed. Harry was a lothario, a front man dying to get away from a band who kept him chained, a big shot. At least, to the general public. Fans see him for who he truly is, and this is his opportunity to let the rest of the world see him too – through the honesty of his music.
He went rouge for the album, so much so that LA and London wouldn’t cut it for the privacy and space he needed to ‘live with the songs’ and find space away from it all. He got on a plane to Jamacia and spent months there, writing, recording, and discovering.
‘At Geejam, Styles and his entire band were able to live together, turning the studio compound into something like a Caribbean version of Big Pink. They occupied a two-story villa filled with instruments, hung out at the tree-house-like Bush Bar, and had access to the gorgeous studio on-site. Many mornings began with a swim in the deserted cove just down the hill.’
Through the interview, it’s clear that the headspace Harry was in ended up being not just perfect for his album, but for himself. He’s taken an entirely different path than he’s ever been on before and he’s doing it with a smile and with the confidence that he followed his heart and stayed true to that. On a journey as a musician, not much else is that important.
‘If all I get is to make this music, I’m content.’
On his self-titled debut album, you can expect Harry to sing about love – which is the direction he went with this album. After having ideas running around in his head, he made a plan and stuck to it. When Harry says the word love, everyone immediately jumps to romance; but for Harry, love is about so much more than that.
‘The one subject that hits the hardest is love, whether it’s platonic, romantic, loving it, gaining it, losing it … it always hits you hardest. I don’t think people want to hear me talk about going to bars, and how great everything is. The champagne popping … who wants to hear about it?‘
If you’re expecting his music to be different than it was in One Direction, you’re right. If you’re expecting his persona to change – except for being more himself, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Harry remains unphased by his circumstance and he likes it that way. He’s not mysterious – he just likes to separate his work life from his personal one. Rightfully so.
More than ‘do you keep a mystery alive?’ – it’s not that. 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.‘
So on May 12th, when you listen to the self-titled debut album, you’ll be hearing a rebirth – and seeing it in hues of pink – the only true rock n roll color.
For more of the interview, check out Rolling Stone online and get the magazine in print on May 4th.