Over the past several months, I crisscrossed the world, following Harry Styles as he rolled out his impressive, game-changing third album, Harry’s House, and played explosive, sold-out shows for hundreds of thousands of fans from Coachella to New York to London. We finally sat down in Hamburg for a long conversation that spanned his career and personal life, and later caught up on the phone while he was in Italy.
During our interviews, he revealed his thoughts on fame, relationships, how toxic the internet can be, what he does in his downtime, and a whole lot more. You can read most of what he had to say in Rolling Stone‘s September cover story, but he shared so much that we couldn’t fit it all in. Here are 10 more things you learn when you’re spending time with pop’s leading man.
No, Harry Styles is not soon.
After a DeuxMoi blind item claimed an A-list male pop artist and occasional actor was secretly balding and wearing a hair piece, a few TikTok conspiracists began speculating that Styles might be the star in question: Few people are more A list than Styles, and he’s been in a several movies, including Dunkirk and the upcoming film don’t worry darling, directed by his girlfriend Olivia Wilde. Fans started zooming in on pictures of his hair, wondering if it might actually be a toupee.
Styles laughed it off and said he didn’t even know his hairline was a topic of discussion until his friend and collaborator Tom Hull (aka Kid Harpoon) told him about it.
“He’s completely obsessed with it,” Styles says of Hull. “He won’t stop sending me messages about [people] trying to work out if I’m soon.”
Styles confirms he’s not soon yet. “What is it with baldness? … It skips a generation or something, right? If your grandad’s soon then you’ll be soon? Well, my granddad wasn’t soon, so fingers crossed.”
The success of “Watermelon Sugar” started with a bunch of little kids and took him by surprise.
Styles noticed that “Watermelon Sugar” — the mega hit from his 2019 album, fine line — seemed to be connecting with his tiniest fans first. “Sometimes you’ll meet people and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, can you meet my child? They’re a massive fan,’ and the child’s like 18 months old. This person’s a massive fan?” Styles says. “And I remember someone coming up to me at a party with their son, who was really small, and he started singing ‘Watermelon Sugar,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’”
The videos kept coming. “’Watermelon Sugar’ was probably the most amount of videos I’d had from friends sending me pictures of their kids singing it, like videos of them just dancing around,” Styles says. “It wasn’t a single when we put [it] out. It was just like, ‘OK, interesting … this is a high volume of videos of small children singing the song.’”
From there, it blew up in a way Styles wasn’t expecting. The song took off during the pandemic, and even though people couldn’t go out, they were still showing the track love. “We couldn’t do anything, and it kind of just did its thing. I think it was a really nice reminder that songs have the power,” he says. “It’s timing, and if people connect with it, and how people are feeling, and what they feel like they want … that part of it feels like it’s just really lucky.”
He wants to keep working with Dev Hynes.
Hynes and Styles have been working together a lot lately. Hynes was the surprise guest and musical director for Styles’ 2021 Grammy performance of “Watermelon Sugar,” and he went on to play cello on “Boyfriends.” Currently, he’s opening for Styles’ 15-show Madison Square Garden residency, performing under his stage name Blood Orange.
Styles wants to keep the relationship going. “I think the way he works is really special. I’ve definitely felt very lucky that he played on the album,” he says. “I hope we can do some more stuff together going forward at some point.”
He’s open to having proper features on a future album, but only if it happens organically.
While Styles has worked and performed with plenty of intriguing artists, he’s never had a real feature or collaboration on his albums. “I would do it if it happened organically — if I wrote a song with someone and that’s why we wanted to do it,” he says. “I want to put out stuff exactly the way that I want it to be.”
He says “collaborating for the sake of it” isn’t something he wants to do. “But if it happened in an organic way, then I’d definitely be open to it,” he explains. “I really like disappearing to go make music, and I don’t necessarily expect someone to come with me into that process in such a massive way. Maybe one day.”
Steve Lacy and Paolo Nutini made two of his current favorite albums.
Lacy’s Gemini Rights and Nutini’s Last Night in the Bittersweet, both released this year, have been recent favorites for styles. After reading Haruki Murakami’s Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, Styles also got into classical pianist Glenn Gould, who Murakami and Ozawa talk about in the book. (“I tried to listen to stuff as they were discussing, which was fun.”)
He’s also got Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers on repeat (“It’s one of those albums where if I’m going to listen to it, I know I want to listen to it in its entirety. I’m not dipping in and out,” he says), and has been playing Lots of the English rock band Wolf Alice, who opened for most of his European tour dates.
He’s thrilled that he got to spend time with Joni Mitchell.
Over the past couple of years, Mitchell has convened special groups of artists for salons she co-hosts with Brandi Carlile. Styles has been a longtime fan of Mitchell’s and was one of the lucky few to get an invite. According to Maggie Rogers, he even sang Mitchell’s “River” at one of those gatherings.
“I can’t claim to know her that well,” Styles says. “It’s one of those things where if you listen to her music, you feel like you know her very well. And then you realize that you don’t. But it was definitely really special to meet her. It’s one of those, for me, where you meet people like that and just realize how important songs are.”
One of his favorite books is Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
Styles is famously well-read, and he found himself particularly struck by the Didion classic. “I think that was the first book I read twice,” he says. Recently, he’s also been moved by Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness, both gifted to him by a friend. He’s also been reading Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.
He can’t believe how loud people got singing the “Leave America” line.
During his European and UK tour dates, fans found one way to express how unhappy they were that Styles had been in the US and that they’d had to wait so long to see him. During “As It Was,” they began screaming out the “Leave America” line from the bridge. It became so loud that Styles stopped singing it himself and let the stages take care of it for him.
“They’re definitely reaching some decibels,” he joked just a few days before wrapping the dates overseas. “It seems to be getting louder and louder right as I’m about to head back to tour America. So I’m intrigued as to what exactly will be shouted at that section when I’m in America.”
It was hard to fit “Fine Line” into his set list.
Styles performed his second album’s epic, fan-favorite closer at the first couple of shows of his UK dates, but he found it didn’t fit with the set. “If I’m honest, it’s really difficult to place in the set now because there’s songs that I would like to play there,” he explained at the time. The nearly seven-minute, slow-building track originally followed softer ballads “Matilda” and “Boyfriends. “We played it at the first couple shows, and when I played it, it just felt like this moment is just a bit too long, energy-wise.”
Removing it was a tough call because of how much he loves the song. “It’s one of my favorites on the album. Because the new album had come out, it felt strange to close the set with it because it’s from a different album. Everywhere we’ve put it in the set, it feels squeezed in. But I love the song still. It’s not like I’ve changed my mind on that one,” he said.
But after he took it out, fans across UK and Europe spent most of the tour begging him via signs, tweets, and endless TikToks to put it back in. “I’m going to play it before the end of the tour,” he promised Rolling Stone. He made good on the promise when he sang it for the crowd in Lisbon, at the European tour closer.
His friends are a mix of childhood and work pals.
Over the years, Styles has been able to keep a few of his school friends by his side. Most of his closest friends are people he met after moving to London at the beginning of his career. He describes these past two summers as some of his favorites, since he was able to catch up with family and old friends in London.
He’s also thankful that he’s so close to many of his colleagues. “With touring and making albums and stuff, you get so close with people and you spend so much time with each other,” he says. “My relationship with the people that I work with is, I would consider, a pretty unique one. I think a lot of the people that I work with are the same people that I choose to spend time with outside of work.”
In his off-months, he focuses on quality time with his friends. As he’s gotten older, he’s realized how important that is to him: “My favorite experiences over the last several years are when it’s with a group of great people. You can go to a shitty restaurant with your favorite group of people and that’s a way better meal than having dinner with people you don’t like in the nicest restaurant.”