The Straits Times
British singer/musician Harry Styles performs during the 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai on November 20, 2017. (AFP/Fred Dufour)
British singer Harry Styles says that playing his first solo show in San Francisco in September this year made him "very aware that I was on my own".
"But I guess I enjoy the attention," he quips, flashing his trademark dimples to the press gathered at The Star Theatre in Singapore on Thursday.
Striking out on his own seems to agree with Styles, 23, who is also a member of one of the biggest boybands in the world, One Direction. The band - also comprising Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne, with Zayn Malik a former member - went on an indefinite hiatus last year.
Dressed in an all-black outfit with shorter hair than he has sported recently, Styles was speaking to the media just before his first solo sold-out show here on Thursday night. He returns for the second leg of his tour with a bigger show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in May next year. The shows are part of his debut concert tour for his eponymous pop-rock album that came out in May this year.
It has been a year of highs for Styles, who counts finishing his album as "one of the best times I've had in my life".
"For any artist, the album represents a snapshot of time, of where they're at at that point, and these were stories I wanted to tell," he says.
The highly regulated press conference meant questions had to be submitted beforehand for approval by his management.
While it was not clear whether he has started work on his next album, he is "excited to see what my next album brings".
"I don't think it'll be too crazy far away, but I also think it's important to embrace different things. I've learnt so many things, being on tour and since it's come out."
Harry Styles sprinkled his magic dust over his fans in Singapore on Thursday. (The Straits Times/Aloysius Lim)
One of his best experiences so far was performing with the legendary Stevie Nicks at a secret show at The Troubadour in Los Angeles in May. They dueted on his solo song, Two Ghosts, Fleetwood Mac's iconic Landslide and finished with Nicks' Leather And Lace.
Looking genuinely floored by the experience, he says: "It's something I'll never forget - when we soundchecked, that was my actual highlight, because it was an empty room with just me and her."
The multi-talented Styles has also dabbled in acting and was featured in director Christopher Nolan's war epic Dunkirk earlier this year. The five to six months of filming was a welcome break.
"What the film let me do was put music aside and I've never had that break from thinking about what the album or the songs were going to sound like," he says.
"By the time the filming had finished, I was just grateful to not be swimming in freezing cold water anymore - it's rare to have a restart button pressed."
Since arriving in Singapore, he has already had his fill of the Indian rice and lentil crepe of masala dosa - which was cause for some confusion with the press conference's moderator, who did not seem to be familiar with the dish.
Singapore is the only South-east Asian stop on the first leg of the tour. He has already played shows in the United States, Canada and Europe.
While he pulled in a crowd of 5,000 at The Star Theatre, his show at the 10,000-capacity Indoor Stadium in May next year will be even bigger. Tickets are still available.
He was last here in 2015 with then-five-member One Direction at the National Stadium, where they played to a crowd of about 30,000.
It is clear, however, that Styles is relishing his solo artist status.
"People coming to your shows is the nicest thing someone can do for you, I think. Not only do they buy a ticket and drive to the show, they listen and they cheer for you if they like it - the whole experience is just the greatest feeling I can possibly imagine."
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