Harry Styles Defends Female Fans and Inclusivity at His Shows: "I'm Just Trying to Say, 'I See You'"

Fans are waiting on tenterhooks to find out what singer Harry Styles's new era will be like, and to kick it all off, the 25-year-old musician gave an in-depth interview to Rolling Stone covering everything from his time in One Direction to that one time he bit off a piece of his tongue while doing mushrooms. Harry told the magazine his forthcoming album (that as of the time of the interview a few months ago was getting its final touches) is all about "having sex and feeling sad," which already has us up in our feelings and ready to purchase multiple copies.

Harry also touched on his relationship with his former One Direction bandmates and whether he's willing to revisit that part of his past sometime in the future. Perhaps one of the best pieces of this interview, though, is how Harry, yet again, defended his fanbase, predominantly made up of women who garner a lot of criticism simply for their gender. "They're the people who listen obsessively. They f*cking own this sh*t. They're running it," he said.

He also mentioned how important inclusivity at his shows is and acknowledged that as a white man, he doesn't understand what it's like to go through some of what his fans do. "I'm not saying I understand how it feels. I'm just trying to say, 'I see you.'"

You can see the full interview on Rolling Stone now, including the photos shot by Ryan McGinley, and pick up a copy of your own on newsstands Sept. 3. For our favorite highlights from the story, keep reading.

Ryan McGinley for Rolling Stone

  • On the future of One Direction: "I don't know. 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.' 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."
  • On his experience in One Direction: "I know it's the thing that always happens. When somebody gets out of a band, they go, 'That wasn't me. I was held back.' But it was me. And I don't feel like I was held back at all. It was so much fun. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't have done it. It's not like I was tied to a radiator."
  • On if he's still friends with his One Direction bandmates: "Yeah, I think so. Definitely. Because 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. 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. It's too important to me to ever be like, 'Oh, that's done.' But if it happens it will happen for the right reasons."
Ryan McGinley for Rolling Stone

  • On psychedelics playing a role in his creative process: "We'd do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney's Ram in the sunshine. We'd just turn the speakers into the yard. You'd hear the blender going, and think, 'So we're all having frozen margaritas at 10 a.m. this morning.'"
  • On the effects of using mushrooms: "This is where I was standing when we were doing mushrooms and I bit off the tip of my tongue. So I was trying to sing with all this blood gushing out of my mouth [...] Mushrooms and Blood. Now there's an album title."
Ryan McGinley for Rolling Stone

  • On masculinity: "I feel pretty lucky to have a group of friends who are guys who would talk about their emotions and be really open. My friend's dad said to me, 'You guys are so much better at it than we are. I never had friends I could really talk to. It's good that you guys have each other because you talk about real sh*t. We just didn't.'"
  • On feminism: "I think ultimately feminism is thinking that men and women should be equal, right? People think that if you say 'I'm a feminist,' it means you think men should burn in hell and women should trample on their necks. No, you think women should be equal. That doesn't feel like a crazy thing to me. I grew up with my mum and my sister — when you grow up around women, your female influence is just bigger. Of course men and women should be equal. I don't want a lot of credit for being a feminist. It's pretty simple. I think the ideals of feminism are pretty straightforward."
  • On his female fanbase: "They're the most honest — especially if you're talking about teenage girls, but older as well. They have that bullsh*t detector. You want honest people as your audience. We're so past that dumb outdated narrative of 'Oh, these people are girls, so they don't know what they're talking about.' They're the ones who know what they're talking about. They're the people who listen obsessively. They f*cking own this sh*t. They're running it."
Ryan McGinley for Rolling Stone

  • On using his celebrity platform: "I want to make people feel comfortable being whatever they want to be. Maybe at a show you can have a moment of knowing that you're not alone. I'm aware that as a white male, I don't go through the same things as a lot of the people that come to the shows. I can't claim that I know what it's like, because I don't. So I'm not trying to say, 'I understand what it's like.' I'm just trying to make people feel included and seen."
    "It's not about me trying to champion the cause, because I'm not the person to do that. It's just about not ignoring it, I guess. I was a little nervous to do that because the last thing I wanted was for it to feel like I was saying, 'Look at me! I'm the good guy!' I didn't want anyone who was really involved in the movement to think, 'What the f*ck do you know?' But then when I did it, I realized people got it. Everyone in that room is on the same page and everyone knows what I stand for. I'm not saying I understand how it feels. I'm just trying to say, 'I see you.'"
  • On creating a safe space at his shows: "It's a room full of accepting people. . . . If you're someone who feels like an outsider, you're not always in a big crowd like that. It's not about, 'Oh, I get what it's like,' because I don't. For example, I go walking at night before bed most of the time. I was talking about that with a female friend and she said, 'Do you feel safe doing that?' And I do. But when I walk, I'm more aware that I feel OK to walk at night, and some of my friends wouldn't. I'm not saying I know what it feels like to go through that. It's just being aware."