After his recent departure from the pop boy band One Direction, Harry Styles is making waves as a solo artist. Just a few weeks ago, Styles released his debut solo single, “Sign of the Times,” and is preparing to deliver his self-titled studio album to fans on May 12.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, conducted by legendary filmmaker Cameron Crowe, Styles describes the process of recording his new album, opens up about his relationship with Taylor Swift, and more. Here’s what we learned from the interview:
The bulk of Styles’ album was recorded in Jamaica.
During a two-month period last fall, Styles, his band, and record producer Jeff Bhasker recorded in the remote Geejam Beach Hotel studio near Port Antonio, Jamaica — the same location where Rihanna and Drake previously recorded music.
A One Direction comeback is not entirely out of the picture.
In late 2014, Styles suggested to his bandmates that One Direction take a break. “I didn’t want to exhaust our fan base,” he said. “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.”
Despite this, Styles has fond memories of his time with the group, and doesn’t dismiss a future together again. “I love the band, and would never rule out anything in the future. The band changed my life, gave me everything,” he shared.
His song “Sign of the Times” has a unique subject matter.
Written from the point of view of a mother giving birth to a child, Styles says that 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.'”
Styles say he wishes the album could be called “Sign of the Times,” but it’s already been taken by an artist he notes as one of his primary musical inspirations, Prince.
His sound of the album will surprise fans.
Though Styles cultivated his own sound during his time in One Direction, he assures fans that the vibe of his upcoming album will be completely new and perhaps unexpected. “It’s different from what you’d expect,” he reveals. “It made me realize the Harry [in 1D] was kind of the digitized Harry. Almost like a character. I don’t think people know a lot of the sides of him that are on this album. You put it on and people are like, ‘This is Harry Styles?'”
Styles is appreciative of his brief relationship with Taylor Swift.
After Crowe brought up the short-lived relationship between Styles and Swift, Styles joked that he would be making a trip to the bathroom, never to return. Despite the humor, Styles revealed his true feelings about the romance and how it’s affected his song-writing.
“In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together,” he continued. “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 s— ever. So thank you.”
His favorite song-writing subject matter? Love.
“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,” Styles said in the interview. “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? I don’t want to hear my favorite artists talk about all the amazing s— they get to do. I want to hear, ‘How did you feel when you were alone in that hotel room, because you chose to be alone?'”
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