Henry Moodie

9 October 2023

Photography Rebecka Slatter
Interview Tari La Fauci

It is a day that seems to embrace the change of seasons in its most vibrant form. Leaves are turning golden while the sun finds its way through the clouds. It is with the same magic that I’m watching Henry Moodie come on stage at The O2. The crowd is cheering, and the light is set on Henry performing in front of thousands. He fills the room with the same warm golden feeling as the summer-to-fall transition.

There is something incredibly special about sitting down with Henry just a few minutes after his show. It is the contrast from being amongst thousands of fans to just the two of us sitting down. We are backstage, in a small room that has just about enough space for Henry's open suitcase, a little table, and two chairs which we push together for our conversation. You can still feel the vibration of the bass and hear the cheering of the crowd in the background. I admire the selected clothing collection for his performances, while Henry admires my tiny voice recorder.

The next 45 minutes feel natural and easy. While people enter occasionally, we keep the conversation flowing. Henry is filled with excitement and, as he says, that “buzz” he always gets after a show. We talk about his upcoming single “Closure” which is one of the most authentic and relatable songs I have heard in a while. Like his other music, it captures the human experience in the most honest and beautiful way. And while he holds, like many of us, an anxious side, he is not afraid to show up as his most authentic self.

It is easy to see the talented music artist he is, but as time flies by, I find myself more fascinated by his passion and gratitude for life. Henry’s eyes light up whenever he talks about his closest friends and family (and Maccies, to be fair). Even with a life that gets him to wake up at 4:30 in Paris to perform the same day in London, he never loses sight of the importance of structure and normality in a very abnormal life. Henry tells me about how his view on life has changed in the last year, why we need bad days to grow, and how visiting his auntie's house in Geneva evokes the most beautiful childhood memories. We connect over a personal voice note which we keep on our phones, but most importantly, we both agree that we want to move to Australia from January to March.

Henry's new single ‘Closure’ is out Friday, 13th October.

The first question is quite obvious, but I'd love to start this interview by asking how you are feeling after your fantastic performance?
So good. I've got that "buzz" you always get after a show, but it's doubled because it's The O2. It's just such a magical venue. So yeah, I feel great. Thank you for asking.

And you also have performed here before.
I have! I supported The Vamps here! When I did the first show, I was so nervous because I had never done it before, but knowing what to expect made me a bit more chilled today. So I can embrace it a bit more.

I can imagine - being able to perform in front of so many people, it's probably quite a magical space for you.
It's been a dream venue since I was a kid. Coming to all the Jingle Bell Balls here, and thinking one day I’m going to perform on this stage. I had no idea that it would be when I was 19. Yeah, it is pretty magical. I don’t think that magic will ever go away.

Most artists say being on stage is an indescribable feeling, but if you could describe it in the best possible way, what would you say? How does it feel?
You know what, I guess it depends on the person, but I feel very comfortable on stage now. I think I've really figured out my artistry and the way I perform. And that is a really nice feeling. It's just a very surreal thing. I think that's why you can't really compare it to anything else. Humans aren't built to perform to that amount of people. So, it's really cool! It is really exciting! It's a lot of adrenaline. That's how I describe it: an adrenaline rush.

Do you ever have a blackout or come on stage, and then after feel like, Oh my god, what just happened?
That happens all the time. If you're so focused on your set as to not mess anything up, sometimes you just don't embrace it. So, every set, I try and take a second to just take it in whilst I'm on stage. Because a lot of the time, you can just come off and be like, Oh my god, this just happened. So yeah, definitely.

I love that you try to embrace it! You mentioned in a previous interview that it can sometimes be mentally challenging, going on tour and being away from friends and family. How do you cope with those feelings?
You know what it is, the shows are the best part, like the shows are so fun. I think it's travelling. For example, today, I got up at 4:30 in Paris to fly here to do this show. So, I haven't really slept. And tomorrow I've got a show, and the day after I've got a show. So, it's trying to stay on top of sleep, trying to stay on top of eating at the right times because before you go on stage, you get really nervous, so it suppresses your appetite. I think it can be mentally challenging if you don't get into a good routine. I try to always book hotels with a gym so I can go on a run and then go to the gym. So, I have a bit of a structure and normality because it's a very abnormal life. Obviously, you miss friends and family, but I wouldn't trade it because shows are so fun, and connecting with the fans is the best part.

I think having a routine is a really good thing. Is there anything else you like to bring with you?
My AirPods get me through life. [laughs] Music! And I bring my vocal steamer. It's a bit of a superstition at this point. Like, I steam before every show. Also, my tour manager has come to every show - he's the best tour manager so he makes it much more relaxing for me. So, I would bring him as well. [laughs]

[laughs] Talking about music, and listening to your different songs feels like a journey. It seems like you open up more and more with each song. From writing about heartbreak to writing about your mental health journey, what is your personal favourite song and why?
That is a really good question! I think I love them all in different ways, but probably “you were there for me” because it's about my best friend. It just makes me really happy thinking about it. A lot of the songs come from a sadder perspective, but “you were there for me” reminds me of all the amazing moments with my best friend. Also, I put that song out first, wrote and produced it by myself. That song completely changed my life. Thanks to Germany, oh, my god, Germany streamed it and played it on the radio, like, genuinely thanks to Germany and Switzerland and a few other countries. That song changed the game for me. So, I think that one will always be very special to me.

I love this answer. I think every song has a special place. I have to say, my personal favourite song is "eighteen".
Really ahhh interesting, thank you!

I think it's because I can relate a lot to feeling a little bit lost and having future anxiety. Not really knowing what comes next. You know?
Yeah, it's sooo tough!

I think nobody really knows what they are doing, no matter how old you are. We are all just figuring it out on the way, which is why your song is so relatable.
I totally agree! It's kind of scary to think about it too much. But it's also comforting that we're all in the same life bracket.

Exactly! And then we kind of realise, Oh my god, a lot of people go through this. How would you say your view on life changed in the last year?
Well, I think there have been so many things I've done this year that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. And I think this is what makes you grow. In a weird way, I'm less anxious because I feel I can do more. I'm a bit more confident. Back when I wrote “eighteen”, I didn't really know if I was going to make it in music. There were so many things that were unsolved or unknown. But now, I think being in a job has really helped my anxieties, but I feel like I’ll never fully get over that fear of the future because it's always there. But I have definitely learned to deal with it more through mindfulness and writing songs, and just experiencing more and pushing myself has really helped.

Yes! Sometimes, going through the anxiety is the best thing you can do!
100 percent! Sometimes, you have to actually face it head-on. If I'm anxious about something, sometimes just researching about it, you realise, Okay, I know all the facts, and it kind of reduces your anxiety.

I get exactly what you mean! Sometimes your anxiety is lying to you, but then you realise it's not that bad!
It's not that bad, also just putting things into perspective really helps!

When I get a little bit anxious, I sometimes like to think about my younger self because she would tell me that I can do it. What would you tell 10-year-old Henry? And what would he tell you?
Good question! You know what? I would tell 10-year-old Henry that, “Not everything is as big of a deal as you think it is. Stop catastrophising the whole time.” Easier said than done. And I think younger Henry would tell me to really know who your true friends are. Stick to your childhood friends. Because I have, they are my best friends.

How long have you been friends?
One of my friends I’ve known since I was two months old. But most of my close friends I’ve known since I was a kid. I made loads of new friends in the industry as well, which is great.

I love what you just said because when we're younger, it's a lot about quantity over quality.
Yes, it's a lot about climbing up the social chain and being one of the popular ones in school. And it's like, no, that does not make you happy. Most of the kids that were popular in school are now kind of going through an identity crisis because they are fed this ego that they are the one, and then life hits them, and they realise the true meaning of friendship is not about popularity.

That’s so true! My friendship groups have gotten smaller but stronger. Talking about childhood friends, do you have a favourite childhood memory?
Anytime I go to my auntie's house - she lives in Geneva. I love her house so much. I love being in the mountains. My family is so happy over there, we have such fun experiences. We get to go abroad - it's fun and exciting. We go skiing in the winter, and in the summer there’s a lake with diving boards. You can do all year-round fun things there. Going to my auntie's house was one of my favourite things in childhood.

That sounds so nice. This leads me to one of your most recent songs, "pick up the phone." The song is so honest and beautiful. There’s one particular part that I love, which I’m going to read to you: Break down cos you're breaking through / No sky is forever blue / Things bloom whenever they've seen the rain / Your thoughts lie, but I know the truth / The best days are ahead of you (ahead of you) / tomorrow isn't your yesterday - I love this part because it just really captures the human experience so well with all its ups and downs.
Oh my god, thank you for saying that. That’s my favourite part of the song too!

Yeah, I think, as human beings, we often forget that we need bad days.
Yes! WE NEED BAD DAYS! You can’t live in a bubble because life will hit you. So, I think it's really important to know that if you are going through a hard time, you are going to learn so much from that experience. Obviously, you don't want to go through a terrible time, but if you're struggling, then I think you'll definitely learn so many things. Break down because you're breaking through. I think that's quite a comforting phrase to say to people who are going through something.

It's like nature - we need balance. We need rain.
We need rain to grow. Plants grow with rain and sun.

A lot of people forget this. It can feel so constant when you go through it, but then afterwards, you realise how important it was.
Yeah. And also, I feel like you appreciate happy times if you go through that.

So, what would you say have you learned so far from dealing with your mental health?
If I’m going through an anxious time, I think the best thing to do is mindfulness, like breathing out of it. Get into a more stable mental state. And then, you can think your way out of it. But you can't really think your way out of it in-the-moment. I think we have to breathe. And then, we can assess the situation. What is going wrong? Things are going to get better. I always try to remember that. You're going to get to the point of looking back and being like, Oh, my god, why did I stress about that? You know what I mean?

Yes, I know what you mean! Do you have a daily routine or something you do every single day that helps?
I go on runs a lot. Exercise really helps, actually. Being on tour, it gets quite difficult. There's a lot of travel, but I always try to go on a run. I think people forget how important it is! Just moving your body. Endorphins. Serotonin.

Yes, I go on walks every day! Concentrating on the movement reduces your anxiety a lot. There is another lyric that sticks out to me: Some days, I’m not even me. When do you feel most like yourself?
I would say around my family. I'm very lucky with my family. I can be fully myself. I've got great siblings. Yeah, or [when I’m with] really close friends.

This actually leads me to the next question. Mental health is obviously such an important topic, but men are often less likely to talk about their feelings. I read that your mum is a therapist - has she ever shared advice with you about mental health and sharing emotions that have stuck with you?
[smiles] I feel like I can just go and talk to my mom about everything. The best thing about therapists is that they're great listeners. So I can offload anything to my mom. And she really helped me with mindfulness and tried to get me off my phone because I'm addicted to social media. [laughs] But I think the main thing is she really listens. I think that’s the best quality in someone. I think it's really tough when you're going through a hard time, and you speak to someone, and they instantly just throw it back, or they might make it about themselves. It's a really good trait in someone if they really listen to you.

Yes, listening is such a skill. It seems like you have a lot of support from your family and friends.
And Teenage Helpline is a mental health charity that I work with because a lot of people don't have support from their family and friends. Something like Teenage Helpline is somewhere people can go to if they want to talk to someone and be listened to.

That's amazing. How do you work with them?
One of my mom's friends runs the charity. And since I was 14, I've been working with them. Yeah, they're great. It's a really good charity.

It's amazing that you're saying this because I think that's quite often the issue. And a lot of young people don't know where to go.
Sometimes, you don't want to say certain things to family or friends. It's quite nice having an anonymous person just to offload things to. It's free therapy. Therapy is a privilege because you have to pay for it. So having something like Teenage Helpline, which is free, is really important because some people can't afford therapy.

I know it's so important to have helplines like this. Also, your best friend inspired the song - how would you describe your friendship?
We are literally just Yin and Yang, meant to be, like any cliche phrase. But oh my god, I haven't seen her in a month, and I'm seeing her in three days! I’m so excited.

That’s so nice. Have you planned anything already? What are you going to do?
She is coming to the show, then we’ll probably go for dinner and catch up. We just chat. We don't need to do an activity. We’re the type of friends that sit in a car for like 10 hours, just talking.

Yes, having a friend that you don’t need to do anything with is the best kind of friendship. At the moment, who or what inspires you the most?
I have always been a big Swiftie. I love Taylor Swift’s songs so much. I’m really getting into The Lumineers. I didn’t realise I’d get into that music, which is great. I take inspiration from so many things. My playlist is full of so many different genres. Also, I love Olivia Rodrigo’s new album. I don’t think I’ll move into that type of music, but I can really appreciate how amazing it is as an album. I’m really happy she’s going in that direction.

And outside of music, is there anything you find a lot of inspiration in?
I would say just friends and family. And movies, actually! Honestly, a lot of the time after movies, I'm like, there's a good concept in that plot. I know a lot of artists take a lot of inspiration from movies.

Yes. I don’t know if you have this, but when you have seen a movie and go out, you genuinely feel like you're one of the characters.
[laughs] Oh my god, I genuinely thought I was the only one who did this. I get out, and I literally think I’m one of the characters. It's so bad, but it's also really funny. It's like you are in a bubble. You're still in that movie. That’s so true. I love that you said that.

[laughs] I love that you feel the same! Coming to the next question, “pick up the phone” was filmed in seven different locations, which I think is incredible.
Thank you, we actually lost some of that footage though. So, I don't know if the music video is actually all seven. We shot it all on film. Some of it, when getting developed, bled I think, or burst. So, I think maybe my music video is like five. But yeah, initially, there were seven.

That’s such a shame. What was the inspiration behind that?
We had this really cool concept of this phone box that I kept on going to. It's kind of almost comedy. So, it would be on the beach, in certain locations it just wouldn’t normally be in. And throughout the video, this person isn’t picking up the phone. [I have] no idea who this person is - we wanted it to be an anonymous abstract metaphor. And I keep going to these different phone boxes, and right at the end, they pick up the phone. Joel, the director, is amazing.

How quickly did you do it? Did you do it all in one day?
Yes, all in one day. They were wheeling the phone box everywhere. That was really funny. It was really hot. It was such a fun shoot. It was down by the coast as well, which I love. Because sometimes I find London a bit claustrophobic. It's nice to get out. Do you live in London?

Yes, I live in London, but I also sometimes have to get out. I love London. There are so many creative people and things to do, but sometimes you need a break from all of it. Do you have a happy place?
Honestly, where I live. Because I live outside of London. Technically, it's in London, but it's far enough away that it feels very different. And I can go for runs and stuff. My happy place is walking the dogs in this specific place. It just [brings me] peace of mind. Or there's a service station near me that my friends and I always drive to. We just sit there, sometimes overnight, literally 24 hours. We'll just grab a Maccies, stay in the car, and just talk. That’s also my happy place.

That sounds great. What would you say a perfect day would look like to you?
So, maybe I have a big show in the evening. I love the excitement of that. I will release a song on the same day. [laughs] I'll be with my friends on a drive somehow. I will be walking the dogs in the morning. My family will be at the show, my friends will be at the show. That would probably be a perfect busy day. And other than that, I think maybe Christmas. I love people’s reactions to presents. I love being around family. Giving is honestly so important. It makes me really happy. The gift of giving is like giving to yourself as well as giving to others.

Christmas is just such a magical time. What does a typical Christmas look like for you? Have you got any plans for Christmas this year?
We have quite a low key Christmas at my house with my family. I wouldn't want to change it for anything else. We always watch the panto (pantomiming) every year. Sometimes we go to an ice hockey game. But that's kind of on and off. But yeah, we keep it low key.

It sounds really nice. I feel like that’s what Christmas is all about.
Yeah, I don't want a big fancy holiday. I want to stay at home and be with loved ones.

I also like it being cold.
For the one time, it's cosy. I hate January, though. January until March in London needs to go.

[laughs] I know! I would love to move somewhere else just from January until March and then come back to London.
Australia! If I had the budget, I would be moving to Australia!

Yes, this would be a dream! Someday maybe. Something else I wanted to ask you - I have a few friends in the music industry, and I always ask: after a song is released, do you listen to it when you are alone? Like when you're doing laundry or something.
No. No. Oh my god, because you sing it so much. You sat with the song for so long. I feel like also, if you listen to it too much, you might lose the magic of it a bit. No, not for me. I don't know, do your artist friends do this?

Yeah, a few of them actually do.
I listen to unreleased stuff because I'm really excited for it to come out. Occasionally, I will be like: Alexa, play Henry Moodie. But I always do that just to test if Alexa works. I’m like, that’s so cool, but then immediately I’m like, Alexa, stop, this is disgusting. [laughs] But no, I don’t listen to my songs once they have been released.

[laughs] I just find it super interesting. It's the same with voice notes.
To be fair, I have this one voice note [from] when I was 15. I went through my first panic attack, and I voice noted afterwards. I was in a really inspirational mood. I was like, next time I have a panic attack, I will listen to this voice note. I was whipping out loads of inspirational quotes. Every single time I get anxious now, I listen to that voice note, and that brings me back to feeling okay. It's really weird, and it never gets old.

You know this is actually crazy. I also have one recording when I went through a hard time, and every single time now, I listen to it. I'm like, Oh my god, I've been in a bad place before, I can get out of this.
Oh my god, I love this! I would recommend it to everyone!

100 percent! Also, your Song "drunk text" is about wanting to be more than friends but not wanting to ruin a friendship - it's like sharing your diary with the world. How do you stay so honest knowing that millions of people will listen to your thoughts?
You know what, it's like sharing my diary with the world, my thoughts, but never ever bringing someone else into that picture. I always keep the identity of the person to myself. Like, I would never ever reveal who "drunk text" is about. Also, this would just be embarrassing for me. [laughs] I also think being vulnerable is really helpful to other people. If they are going through a similar thing, knowing someone else is too, is important. And this has helped me through hard times. Listening to music that I can relate to, I always try to do that. Like, keep it real. Life is too short.

Yes, that’s so true. The amazing thing about music is that you can write a song that can be super personal to you but then you put it out in the world, and it can have a thousand different meanings for other people.
Yeah, like, for example, “you were there for me” is about my best friend, but anyone could be there for you. Your mum could be there for you, it could be about love, it could be about so many different things. So, it can relate to me, but I can also put it out into the world, and so many people can bring it into their own lives, and that’s what I really love about music.

It is really special. It bonds people together. Does your friend know that the song is about them?
No idea, never will.

That stays in the diary. I just listened to your new single, “Closure”. I personally absolutely love it.
Thank you. We have got big plans for this.

Please tell me more; what are you most excited about?
We are doing a short film. I’m putting out three songs, and they all tell a different part of a relationship. One is about entering it, one is about being in it, and one is about afterwards. “Closure” is obviously about afterwards. I’m really excited, the music videos are all going to combine into a short film. We are still figuring out who to cast at the moment, but hopefully, a recognisable face.

This sounds incredible! I’m so excited to see the result.
Yes, I just really hope it helps people who go through a similar situation.

I think it will. Listening to you just perform "Closure," I found it really special and quite rare because there are a lot of songs that are about being in love or heartbreak, but most of them feature someone in a negative light.
That’s so true. It’s quite easy to write from the victim’s perspective, I noticed that myself. But as I said before, I really try to stay true to myself, and in this situation, no one was the problem. It was out of our control. It was just falling out of love, and that just happens to people sometimes. And you can’t blame someone for that happening to them, sadly - the song is about wanting to blame that person, you know, I wish you cheated, I wish you did something, but you can’t blame anyone - this person was amazing. It makes it so much harder to get over them when they are actually a great person. So, I wanted to write a song from a more mature, complex point of view. Because I think love is very complex. But it's easier if it's right or wrong. This was a complicated situation, so I tried my best to get this across with the lyrics.

You’re so right. It makes it so much harder if you have to let go of someone, not because they did something wrong or you did something wrong, but because it just didn’t work. On a final note, what are you looking most forward to after a performance?
I look forward to food. [laughs] I’m starving after a show, but I also really look forward to seeing family and friends that have come to the show. My sister, for example, surprised me today. She came down from Nottingham, and I haven’t seen her in a month. I haven’t seen my parents in a month. I’m really excited to see them after this. It’s just really nice reconnecting with people that you haven’t seen in a while. Weirdly, my shows have actually brought family members closer together because my cousins are like, “Can we come to your show?” and I’m like, “Yes, come!” It's just like little family reunions. But keeping it real, I’m mainly looking forward to food when I get off stage, like get me a Maccies right now. [laughs]

Teenage Helpline is a charity that provides peer-to-peer mentoring services for young people. Email support@teenagehelpline.org.uk if you need a chat.

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