What Started as a Slogan on Harry Styles’ Guitar Strap ‘Turned Into a Tribute’; How ‘Treat People With Kindness’ Came To Be

Harry Styles got his start in the music industry with the band One Direction. It was a rather big way to find stardom because he and the other boys in the band soon became household names and One Direction became the huge group they are to this day, even years after their hiatus. 

Now, though, he’s created two solo albums and formed a career for himself away from the band. With Fine Line, the songs all really meshed well together and Styles really found his sound which definitely evolved from his debut solo album. 

Throughout the pandemic, Styles has been putting out music videos, which has really been a treat for fans. “Treat People With Kindness” is the latest video and it starred a well-loved actor and featured some fun dance moves. But what’s the story behind the song? Turns out, the title came from a pin and it grew from there. 

Harry Styles had a pin with the ‘Treat People With Kindness’ slogan, and it turned into so much more 

Harry Styles performs live on stage at iHeartRadio Secret Session with Harry Styles at the Bowery Ballroom on Feb. 29, 2020.
Harry Styles performs live on stage at iHeartRadio Secret Session with Harry Styles at the Bowery Ballroom on Feb. 29, 2020 | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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In an interview with MusicWeek back when Fine Line came out in December 2019, Styles told the publication that “Treat People With Kindness” was something written on a pin he owned, which grew into a little inside mantra between him and fans.  

“It was a pin I had on my guitar strap and we made T-shirts for it, then I saw a lot of t-shirts around,” Styles said. “I’d be driving or something and see someone in one and I started feeling like, ‘Oh this is a bit of a thing.’”

After seeing the slogan catch on, and liking the little “mantra” as he called it, he decided to try and write a song around it. Because it is a nice sentiment as well. 

“I had an idea of writing a song to go with it and it turned into a tribute,” Styles noted. “It’s just really fun.”

Styles actually wasn’t sure if he liked the song at first, but found solace in a David Bowie interview 

The song is a departure from most of the album, starting with bright vocals and continuing an infectious beat throughout. It features great background vocals, trumpets, a bit of ‘70s dance vibes and is truly all about keeping the listener happy. On top of the fact that the song is literally about being kind and feeding the world with that kindness. 

Throughout the writing process, though, Styles wasn’t quite hooked on the song. 

“When I first wrote it I wasn’t sure if I really liked it or really hated it, but as it was going on I was like, ‘Oh I really like this, this is really fun,’” Styles shared. 

It was after he saw an old interview clip of singer David Bowie that things sort of turned around for him and how he viewed “Treat People With Kindness.” That, and the fact that his background singers loved jamming out to it. 

“I’d seen this clip of David Bowie talking saying that you usually end up doing your best work when you feel like you can’t quite touch the bottom, and realizing that the fact that it made me feel a little uncomfortable didn’t mean it was a bad song was big thing,” he said. 

Now, it’s a hit song and joyful video starring him and Phoebe Waller-Bridge 

Again, Styles has been busy delivering video after video this pandemic, with “Watermelon Sugar” in May, “Golden” in October and now “Treat People With Kindness” on Jan. 1. It starred Styles, but also writer, director, and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge. 

The creator of Fleabag and Killing Eve dressed similarly to Styles in the video, both wearing argyle sweaters and white suits. And they both did some snazzy dancing. It was truly a delight and matched the kindness that flows through the lyrics and the joy that comes across through the song. 

“Small changes end up making a big difference,” Styles said when it comes to the meaning behind living with kindness everyday. “It’s about being a lot nicer to each other rather than, ‘Don’t do this, or don’t do that, not this yes that.’ It’s just saying, ‘Treat people with kindness,’ you know.”

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