British rap-rocker Dominic Harrison (aka Yungblud), who got little heart tattoos on each middle finger around the time of his 21st birthday in August, is somewhat surprised that copycat tats have become the rage among his diehard fans.
“People turn up at my shows with black hearts on their knuckles, waving their hands in the air like flags,” says Yungblud, who filmed himself sitting with a young couple at a tattoo parlor as they got matching-heart engraved.
“The broken heart on my right finger represents me before I figured out who I was, and the full heart on my left is because I’m left-handed, I use that to write my music, and my music helped me obtain my direction in life,” says the punky, politically-inspired artist who appears in San Francisco this week, promoting his eclectic debut album “21st Century Liability.”
He finds it incredible to have forged such a strong connection with fans, because for years, no classmates took him seriously.
“I get tons of messages every day, telling me, ‘Your music has provided me with answers.’ It feels like, for the first time in my life, I’m being heard, like I’m not just shouting into a dark room anymore,” he says.
As a schoolkid, the Yorkshire-born Harrison was admittedly a problem child despised by most of his teachers, except his drama and music professors.
His erratic behavior was the result of ADHD, which went undiagnosed until he was 13, when physicians tried to alter his mood with the latest drugs.
“But that numbed me and made me a shell of myself, so my mom said, ‘No f—– way.’ Because it’s just so easy, isn’t it? Suppressing someone’s personality. That’s what my song ‘Medication’ is about – everyone trying to make you a zombie.”
Yungblud channeled his excess energy into making genre-jumping music with top-flight producers like Dave Katz, Matt Schwartz and Martin Terefe and simultaneously unleashing scathing social commentary on “Liability” cuts “Anarchist,” “Die For the Hype” and “Machine Gun (F— the NRA).”
Don’t get him started on the Brexit decision, his first time at English polls. “I felt like I had my voice taken away by that vote, like I had a muzzle put on me,” he says. ”It really put a fire in my belly.”
“But there’s a change coming in youth culture, and you’ve just got to see it,” adds Yungblud, who’s cultivated a madcap mascaraed look somewhere between Heath Ledger’s Joker and cult film character Drop Dead Fred. “ If freedom is the fundamental lack of fear to say what you want, then that is my generation right now.”