Sydney, December 2014: Harry Styles stands up, straightens his black, unbuttoned, Jagger-esque shirt and extends his hand. “Hello, I’m Harry,” he says, his English accent thick. “Can I interest you in a macaroon or some sort of beverage? A water, even? No? Now, tell me, where abouts in Sydney did you grow up?”
Yes, at best the then-20-year-old One Direction band favourite was talented and charming and – depending if you’d spoken to Taylor Swift or not – at worst, a heartbreaker.
“So what kinds of questions are you going to ask me?” Styles cheekily quips as I advise of my “no-peeking at my notepad” rule. “I can just about see the first question on your page. Yep, I got it.”
Today marks ten years since UK X Factor judge Simon Cowell assembled One Direction consisting of five good-looking young lads with amazing hair; Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan. They would go on to become the biggest boy band in the history of the world (each were reported to be making $280,000 per day at that point and have a combined net worth of $340 million). As their success ballooned to astronomical proportions, the boys – who all came from humble homes – seemed surprised at every step. They were always counting their lucky stars.
“I’ve seen things and places that I’d only ever dreamt of when I was growing up,” Styles posted to his Instagram on Wednesday evening. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the most incredible people, and gained friendships that I know I will treasure for the rest of my life. None of this would be possible without the support you’ve given along the way. And for that, I will be forever thankful.
“I just can’t believe it’s been ten years. To all the fans, I love you, and I thank you with all my heart. You did it all, and you changed everything,” he continued. “And finally… to the boys, I love you so much, and I couldn’t be prouder of everything we achieved together. Here’s to ten.”
Across the years of interviewing him, Styles never changed. He remained very polite, warm, friendly and socially aware. He would include everybody in the room in his conversations, which usually comprised of random observations. He had this magnetic energy that people were drawn to – it wasn’t intimidating – and it was capped with a heir of flirtiness (just ask Lizzo or Kendall Jenner).
When I was younger, I was thrown into an off-the-cuff interview in Sydney with Styles and Horan with just a couple of minutes to prepare my questions. Perhaps sensing my nervousness, he asked me a million questions about me; my story, my upbringing, my weekends – he wasn’t there to talk about the weather. I personally think he was just really good in recognising that someone’s time with him meant something to them.
Happy 10 1D. And thank you for the memories.