It’s not hard to gather, by this point, that we’re massive fans of Louis Tomlinson. While the rest of the world seems to learn something new about him with each interview he gives – fans of Louis just nod their heads as if they knew ‘it’ all along.
What exactly is ‘it’? It varies, that’s for sure – there are strong opinions about the boys of One Direction in different facets of the ‘fandom’ but the thing everyone can agree on is that he’s so much more than he was ever truly given credit for. He’s more than he’s given credit for now.
So when Louis sat down with Noisey for a chat, he was asked questions about who he is as an artist, his music, and what helps to keep him grounded.
He started off by saying that Doncaster is the opposite of showbiz which is why he stays so grounded, he never allowed himself to get caught up in ‘that type’ of celebrity; for him – it’s a night out with his friends from home that keeps him going. Not rubbing elbows with the elite.
‘Yeah, well, Doncaster is the opposite of showbiz, but really, I’ve got two sides to me when it comes to that kind of thing. What I really can’t ever get used to, or really enjoy, are these super geared-up celebrity parties – where he’s there, she’s there – and everyone pretends to be friends like they’ve known each other for years, like ‘oh, how are the kids?!’ but no one actually cares. You see people who are beyond self-absorbed, and that’s why it can be a dangerous place. For me, I much prefer messy nights out with my friends from home.’
Staying away from danger, here, seems to mean that he knew what it could mean to go down that road – the superficial one, and he tried like hell to make sure that never happened to him. He went on to say that they keep him grounded and their opinions matter a lot to him, in terms of things like music and fashion. He guarantees if he looked like an idiot, his pals would tell him in a WhatsApp message.
It’s not just his friends from home that keep him grounded, however, he says that he’s still best mates with the One Direction lads, regardless of the picture painted in the media. In fact, he brings up the way Harry, Liam, and Niall dropped everything to be there for him during his first live performance of ‘Just Hold On’ seemingly hours after his mother passed away.
‘It wasn’t one of those stupid fucking celebrity things where it’s like, ‘lets all get in a picture and put it on Instagram and show everyone that we’re best mates’ – we didn’t even put it online. There are always those little things that people don’t hear about.‘
Louis did, however, touch on those party days that became such a public part of his narrative during the last year before One Direction’s hiatus. He said it was too strange to come off stage with all that energy and just…sit down, so tackling it with parties seemed like a way to address the challenge of it all.
‘During the last year of One Direction, in particular, I definitely went a little bit… west. I kind of realised we were going on this hiatus and I thought ‘I’ve been very sensible for this whole time’ and that’s not really me, so for a year or so we definitely had a good ‘party stint’ and I got it out my system, in a way. There were definitely those days when it felt as if touring was relentless, and if you want to tackle it from a party point of view it can be really fun, but it does make the whole thing even more draining. It’s just such a difficult feeling to come off stage and have this amazing buzz and then be like…’so what now?’ You can’t just sit on the tour bus and chill.’
One thing Louis doesn’t do, despite what many people may think, is hold resentment towards his days in One Direction. He does look at it as the defining experience that changed it all. In saying that, he wouldn’t change anything about his life in the band, but he does say that you never truly know what you’re getting into when you do something like…well…accepting an offer to be in a band that impacts music in a way that requires an impact on your personality.
‘I had a great upbringing. I had a great childhood. I was very lucky, and my school life… I absolutely loved it. That’s what I found hard about the change; it was such a massive jump. It was something I knew that I wanted, but in hindsight… I wouldn’t change anything, but you never know what you’re getting into. You don’t really know one percent of what that means.‘
Louis then speaks about what brought on his solo music, and it wasn’t at first his intention to necessarily go solo. He was writing music for months, not really for himself, and then the song with Steve Aoki was born and that moment, that song, and the moments in his life happening around it drove him to pursue that solo career.
‘It kind of happened by accident. There was a six-month period where I was just writing. I wasn’t writing for me – I was writing for other people – and then we got the Steve song and everything started happening quickly. Before long, I’d got a call saying I could play the X Factor final, which was such a big fucking deal for me. I felt a real sense of fulfillment doing that.‘
Louis feeling fulfillment from that performance also helped him with confidence, and his fans are people he credits for that confidence as well. He thanks them, constantly, for helping him to succeed – for making him feel like he’s got something worth saying, a voice worth hearing.
He speaks with the interviewer, Daisy, about his song with Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals ‘Back To You’ which has a July 21 release date and says at first he was a bit unsure of the tune, but after listening to it a few times, he liked it. ‘Liking’ the song seems an understatement for Louis who has been leaking snippets of it on his Instagram story for days. He’s as excited about the tune as we all are.
‘It’s so melodically different to what I was used to, I wasn’t 100 percent sure on the song initially. But after playing it like three times, I became really excited about it. I think it’s really cool.’
In closing, he was asked ‘What’s next?’ and his response said a lot.
‘I feel like I’ve got a message in my music and how I carry myself. I feel like the least celebrity person in a very ‘celebrity’ environment, so with that comes a unique mindset. You know, we all have the same problems, that’s the bottom line – they just look a lot different. Those fundamental things that make you feel upset, they’re the same. I think you tend to think that you’re going to be famous, you’re going to be in a band, and then life’s complete. But no, I think it’s about having perspective over the whole thing… even when you’re on top of the world, you have to keep thinking about the next step.’
He went on to say that being comfortable is dangerous, and that’s what keeps him moving forward.
‘In ten years time, the most important thing for me is that I’ll deliver a good album that people connect with, and then after that… who knows? I’ll set myself a new target. As soon as you start to feel comfortable, it’s a dangerous place to be in. That keeps my drive up, that keeps me going.’
We hope his drive to keep going continues because we’re looking forward to an incredibly long future with music from Louis, and his contribution to the industry.