Harry Styles isn’t afraid to share his sensitive side. As he explains in his new Rolling Stone cover story, when he and the band finished recording in Jamaica, he ended up drunk and wet from the ocean, toasting everybody, wearing a dress he’d traded with someone’s girlfriend. “I don’t remember the toast,” he says, “but I remember the feeling.”
Styles wears a pink Alexander McQueen shirt with his McQueen suit. He quotes the Clash’s Paul Simonon: “Pink is the only true rock & roll colour.”
The classic role of tortured artist is not one he’ll be playing. “People romanticize places they can’t get to themselves,” Styles says. “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.”
“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.”
“The one subject that hits the hardest is love,” Styles says, “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? I don’t want to hear my favorite artists talk about all the amazing shit 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?'”
Harry Styles recorded much of his album there, turning his studio complex into a Caribbean version of Big Pink. For two months last fall, Styles, producer Jeff Bhasker and the band recorded in the remote Geejam studio near Port Antonio, a location where Rihanna and Drake have previously recorded music as well.