Music

Yungblud on 'ignorant' politicians, his own affordable festival and how music can change the world

Yungblud has invited Britain's 'ignorant' politicians to Bludfest, hosted at the Milton Keynes Bowl on 11 August

Yungblud announced Bludfest at this secret Camden gig. Credit: Dave Hogan for Yungblud

If Rishi Sunak is trying to appeal to young voters, he’s doing it “completely fucking wrong.”

That’s the damning verdict issued by Yungblud – one of Britain’s most successful young artists – as he calls for the UK’s political class to join him at his new festival this summer.

“They’re ignorant at the minute,” he says. “You know, I’m saying I think they should come [to Bludfest] and they should learn.”

“Obviously, I can sit here and say, I think they’re all full of shit. But what I would love to happen is I would love them to come and listen.”

Hosted at the Milton Keynes Bowl on 11 August, Bludfest will feature a headline set from Yungblud alongside a line-up featuring recent collaborator Lil Yachty, as well as Soft Play, Nessa Barrett, Lola Young, Jazmin Bean and more. Legendary rockers The Damned are also playing a set, a booking Yungblud enthusiastically describes as “mental.”

It’s not easy to make a festival work in this economic climate, as the cost of living crisis erodes people’s disposable income and running costs soar. According to the Association of Independent Festivals, some 21 UK festivals have already announced a postponement, cancellation or complete closure this year.

But despite difficult financial headwinds, Bludfest tickets will be £49.50 – considerably cheaper than the industry norm. The low price-point was non-negotiable, Yungblud says.

“We live in a society where like, if this is the way things should be, well, then we’ll just leave it as it is. Fuck that,” the 26 year-old told the Big Issue. “I wanted to do something that would challenge ticket pricing, that would challenge the way things have been done before.”

“When you go to a festival, you’ve got to get gasoline. It’s a train ticket, it’s food, it’s everything. People end up spending 400 quid on a festival and that is just mental.”

Yungblud announced Bludfest at this secret Camden gig. Credit: Dave Hogan for Yungblud

Establishing Bludfest is the “logical” next step for the Doncaster rocker, who shot to fame after releasing his debut self-titled EP in 2018. Described by Rolling Stone magazine as the “Tasmanian devil of pop rock,” he’s also unabashedly political. When he first started out, Yungblud says, labels told him “don’t talk politics, it’ll never get played on Radio 1” – advice he is proud to have ignored.

His debut EP contained “King Charles”, a track comparing the  17th century monarch to modern leaders. His first full album contained the song “I Love You, Will You Marry Me”, a statement on corporate greed, and “Machine Gun (F**k The NRA)”, slamming American gun culture.

“Music can genuinely change the world. It allows a message to go inside your gut instead of inside your brain,” Yungblud says.

“A message can go inside your brain, you can think about it. But then when you feel it, you I think you’re more inclined to act.”

In 2022, Yungblud became the youngest ever guest editor of the Big Issue. The magazine has had a place in his heart ever since a vendor helped him turn his life around.

The would-be performer had just injured himself in a West End theatre show and thought his career was in ruins. Then he ran into a vendor named Michael.

The pair got a hot drink and listened to music “for half an hour”, Yungblud said. “He looked me in the eye, and we spoke as to humans. It was a real, human connection.

“If you are going through life, and you’re looking down, you’re going to miss someone who will say ‘hello’. And that can be a Big Issue vendor, that can be a person in Pret, that can be a person on the train,” he said.

Bludfest will include a ‘Make A Friend tent’ to foster such connections. Britain’s politicians are more than welcome.

Yungblud. Credit: Dave Hogan for Yungblud

“As a generation we didn’t want to see gender, we didn’t want to see colour, we want it to be equal, we want to be unified, and we want it to say like, be proud of who you are,” Yungblud says.

“It’s very apparent that [politicians] are trying to appeal to the kids – but you’re doing it completely fucking wrong… You feel so far away from all of us. You feel so detached from all of us, you feel like you’re on a different planet and I ain’t voting for you.”

Tickets are available for Bludfest here.

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