The 23-year-old has been making the rounds to get fans pumped up for his new classic rock-tinged full length—most recently rocking crowds on the Today show with “Carolina,” among other album cuts. On Friday two interviews dropped, one with the New York Times and another with BBC’s Radio 1. Read on for the four most fascinating factoids we gleaned from those conversations.
1) He admits that those lyrics are about Taylor Swift—sort of
Styles has remained tight-lipped about his time with the pop queen. When prodded by Rolling Stone in April, he offered her a warm “thank you” for “the learning experience.” He admitted at the time that she was “a huge part of this album,” but Styles declined to get specific when asked on Radio 1 whether the track “Two Ghosts” touched on Swift.
“I mean, I think it’s pretty, like, self explanatory,” he stammered, before jokingly yelling for help off-mic. “I think it’s about, you know, sometimes things change. And you can be, you know, doing all the same things. And sometimes, it’s just different, you know? 2017, Philosopher, London, end quote.”
Makes sense, right?
2) He’s ready to start acting his age
“In terms of choosing the songs and the track listing, it was probably time for me to have to make some decisions for myself and not be able to hide behind anyone else,” he tells the Times of his solo outing. “As a person, too, probably. Everything, workwise, that I’d done since I was 16 was made in a democracy.”
3) And acting his age means being able to reference masturbation in his lyrics
“I’ve never felt the need to explain myself in terms of my personal life,” he says when questioned by the Times about a line on the track “From the Dining Table”—“Woke up alone in this hotel room / Played with myself, where were you?”—which ruffled some feathers. “I very much feel like writing is the way you get to say what you want to say and be like, ‘That’s all I have to say on it.'”
The famously coy interviewee couldn’t resist showing his pride at the diplomatic response. “Was that an all right answer for that question? I think it was all right! I think we danced around that OK.”
4) He has enormous respect for his young fans
There’s an unfortunate stereotype among fans of pop music: any musician swarmed by mobs of screaming teenage girls must be completely devoid of quality and artistic integrity. Styles, for one, takes offense to this misconception, and defends the admirers who’ve supported him since his days in One Direction.
“I believe that fans that I’ve had in the past, if anything, expect and demand more,” he tells the Times. “Fans are usually the first people to tell you when stuff’s not good enough. And I just think it’s a little naïve to just write off younger female fans, in particular, in the way people do. Like I’ve said, young girls were massive fans of the Beatles. It’s crazy to think that they’re not intelligent.”