In a rare interview, Styles addresses One Direction’s hiatus and the meaning behind Sign Of The Times.

“Equal rights for everyone.”

That’s part of the significance behind Harry Styles debut solo single, Sign Of The Times, which entered at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 yesterday.

After a dazzling turn on Saturday Night Live, Styles foray into working without One Direction behind him continues with another typical new superstar rite of passage – a dramatic cover and revealing interview with Rolling Stone.

Decked out in Prince style frilly suits, dress shirt and rainbow boots, Styles dished on all the topics people have been speaking about for him the past six years.

On Zayn leaving:

“I think it’s a shame he felt that way, but I never wish anything but luck to anyone doing what they love. If you’re not enjoying something and need to do something else, you absolutely should do that. I’m glad he’s doing what he likes, and good luck to him.”

On his brief 2012 relationship with Taylor Swift:

“Relationships are hard, at any age. And adding in that you don’t really understand exactly how it works when you’re 18, trying to navigate all that stuff didn’t make it easier. I mean, you’re a little bit awkward to begin with. You’re on a date with someone you really like. It should be that simple, right? It was a learning experience for sure. But at the heart of it – I just wanted it to be a normal date.”I don’t know if [her 1989 songs “Style” and “Out Of The Woods”] are about me or not, but the issue is, she’s so good, they’re bloody everywhere.”

On young female fans:

“Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.”

On One Direction’s reason for their hiatus:

“I didn’t want to exhaust our fan base. If you’re shortsighted, you can think, ‘Let’s just keep touring,’ but we all thought too much of the group than to let that happen. You realize you’re exhausted and you don’t want to drain people’s belief in you. We were touring all the time. I wrote more as we went, especially on the last two albums.” There are songs from that period he loves, he says, like “Olivia” and “Stockholm Syndrome,” along with the earlier song “Happily.”

On a One Direction return:

“I love the band, and would never rule out anything in the future. The band changed my life, gave me everything.”

On how he wanted his first album to sound:

“Honest. I didn’t want to write ‘stories’. I wanted to write my stories, things that happened to me. The number one thing was I wanted to be honest. I hadn’t done that before”.

On what Sign Of The Times is actually about:

“Most of the stuff that hurts me about what’s going on at the moment is not politics, it’s fundamentals. Equal rights. For everyone, all races, sexes, everything. ‘Sign of the Times’ came from ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve been in a hard time, and it’s not going to be the last time.’ The song is written from a point of view as if a mother was giving birth to a child and there’s a complication. The mother is told, ‘The child is fine, but you’re not going to make it.’ The mother has five minutes to tell the child, ‘Go forth and conquer.'” “Harry really led the charge with that one, and the rest of the album,” says [producer Jeff] Bhasker.”

On his upcoming role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk:

“The movie is so ambitious. Some of the stuff they’re doing in this movie is insane. And it was hard, man, physically really tough, but I love acting. I love playing someone else. I’d sleep really well at night, then get up and continue drowning.”

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