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Henry Moodieis destined for the very top

by Megan Armstrong

Just remember that you heard Henry Moodie here first.

I’m guilty of asking Henry Moodie perhaps the most flippantly asked question in human history: “How are you?” Moodie says that, on this day, at this moment, he’s “good.” The 19-year-old singer-songwriter is on holiday in Ibiza after months of opening on tours for The Vamps and Mimi Webb, as well as staging his first headlining tour, so he has every reason to feel good. But Moodie is conscious of answering that question transparently, regardless of if he’s blissful in Ibiza or anxious backstage.

“You know that toxic masculinity thing where guys can’t really express their emotions? I’ve never really had that,” Moodie says. “My dad has always been very open, so I’ve never felt the pressure to not talk about my emotions. If my mum’s like, ‘How are you?,’ he’ll say exactly how he’s feeling. It was just small things. He’s also a doctor, so he’s very intelligent, and I feel like intelligent people know that bottling up your emotions isn’t a good thing to do.”

He adds, “I still catch myself doing it all the time when I’m not good. I’ll just be like, ‘Yeah, I’m good, how are you?’ It’s muscle memory. One thing we should all do is respond truthfully to that [question].”

Moodie responds truthfully every time he writes a song. Last summer, after signing with Sony Music’s Columbia Records and Robots & Humans, Moodie officially debuted with “You Were There For Me,” dripping with gratitude for those who comforted him “in all of my lonely nights / When I was a ghost inside.” Contrastingly, January 2023’s heartbreak ballad “Drunk Text” sits in the discomfort of hollow absence, as Moodie sings, “I wish I was who you drunk texted at midnight.” Moodie flexed his emotional range with this July’s “Pick Up The Phone” — extending his hand out to anyone who needs support, especially when it’s the most difficult to ask — and this latest release, “Closure,” a mature depiction of falling out of love and wishing there were someone or something to blame.

Moodie has been rewarded for his vulnerability to the tune of 140 million global streams, landing among the top-10 most-viewed UK artists on TikTok in 2022 alongside Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, and Sam Smith. He’s mirroring what he observed while growing up in Guildford, England. Moodie was raised by emotionally intelligent parents and felt safe to express himself in the family home — a crucial counterbalance to ostracization by his peers at secondary school. Moodie’s mum is a therapist. While she never forced therapy, she taught him and his sisters “to be mindful” and “channel emotions into something.”

Around 11 or 12 years old, Moodie chose songwriting. He still has one song saved on his phone from those formative years, written with his best friend, who now plays keys in his band, about feeling dizzy.

“It was so cringey and funny,” Moodie says, later noting, “I find it cool to hear how my voice has completely changed from back then. I’ve noticed a big shift in my lyrics. When I was younger, I wrote from a bit more of a victim mentality. A lot of my songs were like, You did this! Sort of accusing people. The older I get, I see a more complex situation, where it’s like, no, I might have done something wrong here, or you weren’t a bad person; it was just the wrong situation.”

And Moodie’s evolution has been dizzying. His fourth-ever gig was at London’s famed The O2 while opening for The Vamps last November — a long way from his childhood bedroom, where he started posting covers to YouTube five-plus years ago, after Taylor Swift’s Reputation album ignited his drive to try his hand at what she’d mastered.

“My friend, Izzy, I have her to thank for getting into music because every day at lunch, instead of hanging out in the playground, I’d go to music block, and we’d just sit there and sing through Taylor Swift covers — her whole discography,” he says. “I remember we did a ‘Back To December’ cover. I remember we did ‘I Did Something Bad’ at one of the school pop and rock concerts, and it went so badly. It was one of those moments you’ve just gotta laugh through the pain.”

In hindsight, putting himself out there at school helped Moodie feel a bit less intimidated to develop in front of millions of strangers online.

“It is quite scary being vulnerable, but I just want to make sure I’m staying true to myself, and hopefully, it also helps other people going through a hard time,” he says.

As intimate as social media can feel, the screen is an undefeated barrier, and Moodie doesn’t only rely on his songs to be there for people. Like his dad, Moodie shows up in small ways. The other day, a friend rang late at night, which was unusual, but Moodie picked up the phone anyway. “I’m glad I picked up because he was going through it and needed someone to chat to,” he says.

Knowing this about Moodie’s private demeanor underscores his songwriting as all the more genuine, and it’s translating. While touring this year, he’s seen overwhelming proof.

“Zurich, Switzerland, I’d never been before,” he says. “Seeing people turn up and knowing your songs, realizing that you’ve touched places of the world that you’ve never been to, it’s so surreal, especially when you have guys, girls, people in their 50s turning up. It’s interesting that people can relate to my songs in so many different demographics.”

Moodie will next open on the UK/European leg of Lauren Spencer Smith’s Mirror Tour, but he’s looking forward to doing this for the rest of his life — sharing his entire being, in whatever form, forever. Today, he’s in his Lover era (one last Swiftian reference for the road), brimming with optimism. He’s buzzing to write “upbeat, stadium pop bangers” for his next project, but he’ll always return to honesty: “The direction slightly changes but inevitably stays the same — confessional songwriting.”

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