Niall Horan: ‘When you’re not writing heartbreak-y songs, you need another angle – & I’m in a good place now’

We caught up with the star ahead of the release of his new album.

Sustaining global success in his own right since One Direction’s split, 29-year-old Niall Horan has managed to remain as down-to-earth as ever. When we meet in a Dublin hotel, I was surprised to see him sitting in the general lobby area, but this low-key factor is part of his charm.

Greeting me with a handshake and a warm smile, I couldn’t help but notice his perfectly styled, brunette hair. Yes, dark brunette, a long way from the bleached locks of the X Factor. He was delighted with the sun beaming through the window, as an Irishman we’d expect nothing less than a chat about the weather, followed by a mention of Guinness.

He’d enjoyed some the night before, but with his busy schedule, that’s about all he got to do this trip, “If I had more time, I’d see everyone and probably go home…[but] I’ll be back over the summer.”

Niall’s new album is out in June. He had the title ‘The Show’ in his head for ages, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that he began writing. The Show was the first song written for the new album.

“What I say in The Show, is ‘if everything was always easy and nothing ever broke, how would we realise how good we have it?’ That line inspired me to write the rest of the record,” he said. “It nearly turned into a metaphor of life, the show, it’s the ups and downs, the good and the bad.” His second album was titled Heartbreak Weather, but being loved up with his girlfriend of 3 years, Amelia Woodley, at the time means this one has a different tone.

“When you’re not writing heartbreak-y type songs, you obviously need another angle and I’m in a good place, so I could write about the ups and downs of life without that,” he said. Even though it’s not a heartbreak album, the former One Direction star said not to expect too many upbeat songs, “[Meltdown is] by far the fastest song. I knew I wanted to write a song about that feeling, at that speed. I write a lot of songs about feeling anxious, but they’re usually ballads and that’s not the tempo of what’s going on in your head.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m an overly anxious person,” he shared, “But we all have that time where we’re like ‘oop’ and it could be over anything. In Meltdown, it’s more about knowing that everything will be fine. No matter what I’m writing about, I’ll always try to write introspectively while keeping it as relatable as possible. I’ve noticed when I’ve written stuff like that before, the fans really grab onto it… that’s what we get out of music, isn’t it? We attach to singers who write about how we feel.”

Niall added that he can’t wait for people to hear On A Night Like Tonight and Start A Cult from his new album, but already knows there’ll be all sorts of theories swirling about the latter, “I just love how it sounds really dark but it’s not.” While he is working on a tour, he has festivals across Europe in the meantime, including Electric Picnic. “Touring is my absolute favourite thing in the world, if I could just constantly tour, I would… Electric Picnic is going to be class!”

Niall’s great pal Lewis Capaldi is also set to play EP. “I’m hoping that I can stay around for his [set] because he’s playing the night after me… He loves an Irish gig too,” he said. “That weekend is just going to be unbelievable, for everyone. I won’t be able to hide the fact that it’ll be mad emotional. It’s a different type of gig, a field full of Irish people.”

Niall’s former bandmate Harry Styles will be playing Slane Castle in June, but Niall said he likely won’t have time to pop to his show. When asked about a 1D reunion, he admits, “There’s nothing going on that I know of.” But he did assure me that they are all still pals. “We’re still really close, we’re very supportive of each other and we keep in touch a lot. It’s as good as it can be for people who don’t get to see each other often.”

Between the One Direction lads and Lewis, you may think Niall is friends with everyone in Hollywood, but he tends to stick with his childhood friends. “I generally don’t look for [friends] in the music industry. I’ve no interest in just becoming friends with famous people to be honest with you. I think everyone [thinks] famous people are all friends for no other reason than the fact that they’re famous. Personalities don’t even come into the conversation. I’d say I have two or three famous friends.”

There are lots of famous people he’d love to work with though, one being Taylor Swift, “She knows where I am, she’s got my number!” He adds that he’d also love to collaborate with Lizzie McAlpine, Maggie Rogers, Olivia Rodrigo, Julia Michaels and Anne-Marie.

Music is his focus right now, but with many artists now acting, will Niall be next on our screens? “I don’t know, I never thought I’d do The Voice and I’m doing that… I struggle on music videos and stuff like that, it’s a lot of stopping, starting and waiting, I can’t imagine doing that for months shooting. I don’t know how good I’d be at acting… If some big director came to me and said I think you’d be good, I’d probably get the confidence and give it a go!”

Niall’s new album, The Show, is out June 9.


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