Harry Styles discussed grappling with commercial pressure but ultimately embracing a more fun mentality with his new album Fine Line during an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio Friday.
Fine Line marks Styles’ second studio album, and during the chat he acknowledged that his self-titled solo debut “wasn’t a radio record” and that, in the lead up to Fine Line, he “felt a lot of pressure to be making these big songs.” Styles said it was ultimately his collaborator and Fine Line producer Tyler Johnson who set him straight, telling him, “You just have to make the record that you want to make right now.”
To that end, Styles said he wanted to be more fun and adventurous with Fine Line. “When I listen to the first album now, I can hear all of the places where I feel like I was playing it safe, because I just didn’t want to get it wrong,” he said. “But I guess a big part of going into this album was I spent a lot of time thinking about the whole process of, you make an album, and then you put it out… and then you tour it. I kind of went into the second one feeling like I want to work out how to make all of this feel really fun.”
Styles also spoke about experimenting with psychedelic mushrooms, which he previously touched on in a Rolling Stone cover story. He told Lowe he doesn’t take substances and rarely drinks while working, but he quipped, “I’m not a politician,” and explained that he took mushrooms to have fun and fuel his creativity in a different way. He added that they were even therapeutic in a way.
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“I think that that’s been a big part of this whole thing for me. I’m just trying to go through life being a little less worried about stuff,” Styles said. “If you don’t hit the top of the chart, your life doesn’t change. If that was what I was aiming at, and then it didn’t happen, then I’d feel so much worse. But redefining it for me has been amazing to be like, ‘Oh, but that’s not the game I’m playing.’ There’s a freedom with that.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Styles spoke about how certain album tracks — “Golden,” “Cherry” and “Falling” — came about and allowing himself to be more vulnerable and honest. He also discussed sharing an early version of Fine Line with Oasis’ Liam Gallagher, some of his earliest One Direction memories and how therapy helped him counter some of the “navel-gazing” inherent in the music writing process.
“Making an album, I feel like is the most self-indulgent time you can think of, really,” he said. “Because you’re just like, ‘How do I feel about this?’ I think with the therapy thing, I just realized I was just getting in my own way. It’s been a thing where I’ve definitely felt it have an impact on my life.”