Few would have predicted Yung Lean's ascent to international stardom, nor would the man himself have predicted such.

Yung Lean and his friends share a nonchalance in everything that they do except when it comes to making music. There is no target audience for his sound. When you listen to Unknown Memory, the debut album, it seems more inspired by pop culture than it does hip-hop.

Many will say that Yung Lean exists because of the internet, a claim which he refutes. Like others, he merely harnesses the power of it to share his work.

What have you been up to recently?

I played a show last night in Stockholm. It was the first time in a year we played in Stockholm. Last time we played there, it was kind of shit. This time it was so loud, my family was there, it was pretty amazing. It was huge. We covered the stage with burning candles that smell good - we had a great show.

How do you get in the zone before a show?

I try to drink as much Hennessy as possible and listen to as much Radiohead as possible.

Are they one of your favourite artists?

Radiohead? Only one song, 'All I Need'.

Who do you consider to be killing it in music at the moment?

I just downloaded Young Scooter's latest mixtape, which I thought was good. Better than his stuff before. I'm starting to fuck with Black Sabbath again.

So you listen to a lot of old stuff too?

Yeah I listen to Paranoid, that's their best album.

What was your favourite cartoon growing up?

It was this Russian cartoon called, wait I'm going to find the name right now, Cheburashka.

Cool, what was that about?

It was about an alligator and a monkey.

Interesting. What about video games, any particular favourites?

Probably Super Mario 64, Final Fantasy or Pokemon.

Which was your favourite Final Fantasy?

The last one for PS2, Final Fantasy XII.

So where do you see your music going in the next couple of years?

I don't know, I really don't know. I wish I could but I really don't.

Is that something that you find fascinating?

Yeah, I'm very happy about that. I would hate to be able to explain to you like 'in a month I'm releasing this and then in two years my label wants me to do this, then going to work with this bla bla bla'. Fuck that, I have no idea, whatever comes to mind.

So in five years time you could be a painter or something?

I could be a lawyer.

That's a cool outlook to have.

Yeah, it's very much a hobby to me.

If a Kanye-Yung Lean track was to ever happen, what would that sound like?

Hopefully he would step out of his comfort zone and make something really crazy.

Any particular sounds you'd want to explore?

Violins and stuff. A lot of violins and a string quartet. Sort of like his Late Registration stuff.

Was that your favourite album of his?

My favourite song of his was 'Barry Bonds' with Lil Wayne. I think his latest album might be his best actually.

Why do you say that?

He's at his Michael Jackson point in life, or he was at least in 2013. You don't get much better than that. To be able to not just go under the radar and live in isolation, he made an album with Chief Keef, King Louie, Arca. That's really a mixture of everything that was important that year. Which is kind of cool how he sums it up on the album.

How did you end up working with Travi$ Scott on Ghosttown?

In 2013, Trinidad James started fucking with me and I guess he was friends with Travi$. Then I went on Twitter and Travi$ started writing stuff like 'Sad Boys, Yung Lean', things like that. Then I just hit him up and we started texting, sent each other a bunch of demos and then out of nowhere, we had that song. We've got more stuff coming.

What's it like working with him?

He's cool. He's very much like me in the studio and he works fast.

Did you ever anticipate 'Sad Boys' becoming a meme?

No not at all. We thought it was too temporary to last any longer than a year. Which is crazy because it's been going on for like three years. It's only the beginning. The thing is that Sad Boys is not really a band or a lifestyle, people interpret it as that. I would say it's three individual artists and when we perform under Sad Boys, we just go under the same name.

People say that your success is partly down to the Tumblr generation. What do you make of that?

No I think it's also because we do proper shows, we're musicians. If we only existed on the internet and we didn't meet anyone in real life, we probably would have died a lot quicker. I don't put any value in going around touring except it's a way of making money. But you have to meet the people that actually worship you, which is kind of weird. I think Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and whatever helps of course but it's us being physically out there that's keeping it alive.

Do you find it weird being worshipped like that?

Yeah, yeah. I don't think humans should be worshipped. Maybe animals but not humans.

How do you switch off from all of that?

I just switch off. Someone comes up and asks me for a picture I just say no, let's just have a conversation. Or 'what do you want to say? Do you like my music or are you just going to show this photo to your friends?' Fans are normal people as well, so am I, so they shouldn't be screaming at me if they see me on the street. I'm not a celebrity.

People take the idea of being a celebrity a little bit too seriously.

There's a difference between some artists. Some artists are in it for the fame, you watch how they come up and it's to get famous. Someone writes a hit song for them and they're everywhere on the radio for like four years. We came up a little different. We took photos, we made videos and just hung out. Then we just sort of shared it with the world for no reason. Then we got famous and kept on doing it and we tried to do as much unexpected stuff without it being unexpected. So for us, we were never hungry for fame, appreciation or acceptance. We just wanted to show our music.

If you had to describe your music to a stranger, what would you say?

Search for 'Yung Lean' on YouTube. Like honestly, I wouldn't have the confidence to explain my music and if I have I probably said something really stupid.


Yung Lean: Facebook / Twitter / Official Website. Yung Lean and Sad Boys play the Barbican on February 23rd.