I’m so into Harry Styles’ solo career. I love “Sign of the Times” and I’m really hoping that Harry’s self-titled solo album is a big success. It’s no surprise that Harry covers the latest issue of Rolling Stone. What is a surprise is that the cover image is so bad, though. Like, he looks about 13 years old here. No bueno. Anyway, I don’t want to chat too much because I need to have room to excerpt all of these epic quotes from his profile. What’s lacking in the photo department, Rolling Stone makes up for it in the feature writing. Harry really gave RS access to everything, and he even made his biggest statement (ever) about his relationship with Taylor Swift. You can read the full piece here. Highlights:
His album was originally going to be called “Pink”: “Pink is the only true rock & roll colour.”
He asked the One Direction guys in late 2014 if they should take a hiatus: “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… I love the band, and would never rule out anything in the future. The band changed my life, gave me everything.”
Writing “Sign of the Times”: “Most of the stuff that hurts me about what’s going on at the moment is not politics, it’s fundamentals. Equal rights. For everyone, all races, sexes, everything. … ’Sign of the Times’ came from ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve been in a hard time, and it’s not going to be the last time.’ The song is written from a point of view as if a mother was giving birth to a child and there’s a complication. The mother is told, ‘The child is fine, but you’re not going to make it.’ The mother has five minutes to tell the child, ‘Go forth and conquer.’”
His dedicated of fanbase of girls and young women: “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 Zayn Malik’s criticism of One Direction: “I think it’s a shame he felt that way but I never wish anything but luck to anyone doing what they love. If you’re not enjoying something and need to do something else, you absolutely should do that. I’m glad he’s doing what he likes, and good luck to him.”
He’s not your tortured, self-destructive artist: “People romanticize places they can’t get to themselves. That’s why it’s fascinating when people go dark – when Van Gogh cuts off his ear. You romanticize those people, sometimes out of proportion. It’s the same with music. You want a piece of that darkness, to feel their pain but also to step back into your own [safer] life. I can’t say I had that. I had a really nice upbringing. I feel very lucky. I had a great family and always felt loved. There’s nothing worse than an inauthentic tortured person. ‘They took my allowance away, so I did heroin.’ It’s like – that’s not how it works. I don’t even remember what the question was.”
Getting pap’d with Taylor Swift on their second date, in Central Park: “When I see photos from that day, 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.”
The songs Taylor allegedly wrote about him, “Out of the Woods” and “Style”: “I mean, I don’t know if they’re about me or not …. but the issue is, she’s so good, they’re bloody everywhere. I write from my experiences; everyone does that. I’m lucky if everything [we went through] helped create those songs. That’s what hits your heart. That’s the stuff that’s hardest to say, and it’s the stuff I talk least about. That’s the part that’s about the two people. I’m never going to tell anybody everything.” Was he able to tell her that he admired the songs? “Yes and no,” he says after a long pause. “She doesn’t need me to tell her they’re great. They’re great songs … It’s the most amazing unspoken dialogue ever.”
What he would say to Taylor now: “I don’t know… Certain things don’t work out. There’s a lot of things that can be right, and it’s still wrong. In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together. You’re celebrating the fact it was powerful and made you feel something, rather than ‘this didn’t work out, and that’s bad.’ And if you run into that person, maybe it’s awkward, maybe you have to get drunk … but you shared something. Meeting someone new, sharing those experiences, it’s the best sh-t ever. So thank you.”
He’s very diplomatic throughout the entire piece, but it never comes across as “he’s so media-trained.” He seems like what he is: a nice guy from a nice, close-knit family. He’s a guy who has good people around him, people who have his best interests in mind. Plus, I do think he’s clever/smart. His answers about Taylor prove that he’s smart, just as it was smart of him to save these comments for years, for his first solo Rolling Stone interview. As for what he says about Taylor… I enjoy that both Harry Styles and Tom Hiddleston are basically making the same argument, which is that they really liked her, they were on a date and suddenly the paparazzi were everywhere. “…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 take that to mean that he didn’t fully understand how Taylor operates.
Photos courtesy of Theo Wenner, Fame/Flynet.