In a new Rolling Stone profile titled “Sex, Psychedelics and the Secrets of Stardom,” the 25-year-old shared that he was still putting the finishing touches on the album, which he explained is “all about having sex and feeling sad.”
Following his split from the French model in July 2018 after a year of dating, Styles was feeling “really cut up,” singer-songwriter/producer Tom Hull, who goes by the stage name Kid Harpoon, told Rolling Stone.
Hull was the one who would go on to encourage Styles to put his feelings into his music following an incident involving a pair of slippers he had received from the singer’s ex.
“I turned up on Day One in the studio, and I had these really nice slippers on. His ex-girlfriend that he was really cut up about, she gave them to me as a present — she bought slippers for my whole family. We’re still close friends with her. I thought, ‘I like these slippers. Can I wear them — is that weird?’” he said.
Sure enough, shortly after turning up to the studio, he had to reveal all to Styles.
“Literally within the first half-hour, he looks at me and says, ‘Where’d you get those slippers? They’re nice.’ I had to say, ‘Oh, um, your ex-girlfriend got them for me.’ He said, ‘Whaaaat? How could you wear those?’ He had a whole emotional journey about her, this whole relationship. But I kept saying, ‘The best way of dealing with it is to put it in these songs you’re writing.’ “
Styles, who did not refer to Rowe by name during the interview, went on to share that the only place “where it feels right” to publicly address his relationships is through his music.
“It’s not like I’ve ever sat down and done an interview and said, ‘So I was in a relationship, and this is what happened,’ ” the singer, who has also dated Taylor Swift, told Rolling Stone. “Because for me, music is where I let that cross over. It’s the only place, strangely, where it feels right to let that cross over.”
Another important role in the songwriting process for Styles this time around? Magic mushrooms.
“Did a lot of mushrooms in here,” Styles said of the Shangri-La studios in Malibu, where some of the album was recorded.
“We’d do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney’s Ram in the sunshine,” he said of the creative process, adding that one day when he was “doing mushrooms” he “bit off the tip of my tongue.”
“So I was trying to sing with all this blood gushing out of my mouth,” he shared. “So many fond memories.”
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Since embarking on a solo career after years of being in the boy band One Direction, Styles said he’s lost a lot of his old anxiety and fears.
“I was constantly scared I might sing a wrong note. I felt so much weight in terms of not getting things wrong. I remember when I signed my record deal and I asked my manager, ‘What happens if I get arrested? Does it mean the contract is null and void?’” told Rolling Stone. “Now, I feel like the fans have given me an environment to be myself and grow up and create this safe space to learn and make mistakes.”
While he went on to share that he didn’t “feel like I was held back at all” by being in the group, he’s not sure whether the group will ever come together again.
“I don’t think I’d ever say I’d never do it again, because I don’t feel that way. If there’s a time when we all really want to do it, that’s the only time for us to do it, because I don’t think it should be about anything else other than the fact that we’re all like, ‘Hey, this was really fun. We should do this again,’ ” he said. “But until that time, I feel like I’m really enjoying making music and experimenting. I enjoy making music this way too much to see myself doing a full switch, to go back and do that again. Because I also think if we went back to doing things the same way, it wouldn’t be the same, anyway.”
Still, just because One Direction is over doesn’t mean his relationships with his former bandmates have been lost.
“Above all else, we’re the people who went through that. We’re always going to have that, even if we’re not the closest,” he said. “And the fact is, just because you’re in a band with someone doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. That’s not always how it works. Just because Fleetwood Mac fight, that doesn’t mean they’re not amazing. I think even in the disagreements, there’s always a mutual respect for each other — we did this really cool thing together, and we’ll always have that.”