Matty Healy defends Malaysia kiss in 10-minute speech at The 1975 concert in Dallas

Matty Healy defends Malaysia kiss in 10-minute speech at The 1975 concert in Dallas

Matty Healy has defended kissing his bandmate on stage during a 10-minute speech which he read out from his phone at a concert in Dallas, Texas.

The 1975 frontman said he was told not to speak about Malaysia but he was “p***ed off” and read out the statement at the band’s show in Dallas on 9 October.

“Unfortunately, there’s so many incredibly stupid people on the internet that I’ve just cracked. And everyone keeps telling me that you can’t talk about Malaysia, don’t talk about what happened in Malaysia, so I’m gonna talk about it at length … I am p***ed off, to be frank.”

He argued that 1975 didn’t “waltz into Malaysia” but were booked by festival organisers who were well aware of the band’s political views and stage show. He added that kissing his bandmate, Ross McDonald, “was not a stunt simply meant to provoke the government” but an “ongoing part of The 1975 stage show which had been performed many times prior”.

Had the band omitted any “routine part” of the show to “appease the Malaysian authorities’ bigoted views of LGBTQ people” that would’ve been “a passive endorsement of those politics”, Healy said.

“As liberals are so fond of saying, ‘silence causes violence, use your platform’ – so we did that. And that is where things got complicated,” he added.

On 22 July, British rock band The 1975 performed on the first day of Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Their performance was cut short when the 34-year-old frontman kissed bassist MacDonald while criticising the country’s anti-LGBT+ laws under which homosexual acts were illegal.

The festival was called off after the first of three planned days, with Malaysia’s government calling the band “extremely rude”. At the time, it was reported that the group will not be permitted to perform in the country again.

Healy said during the Dallas concert that it was “puzzling” that “lots of people, liberal people, contended that the performance was an insensitive display of hostility against the cultural customs of the Malaysian government and that the kiss was a performative gesture of allyship”.

After the onstage kiss in July in Malaysia, the country’s communications minister Fahmi Fadzil wrote on X/Twitter: “I have called the organisers of Good Vibes Festival 2023, which is Future Sound Asia, following the very rude actions and statements displayed by UK artist ‘The 1975’ in Sepang last night.”

“There will be no compromise against any party that challenges, disparages and violates Malaysian laws,” Mr Fadzil added.

Healy also claimed “other apparent liberal people” criticised the kiss as “a form of colonialism”, and that the 1975 was “forcing its Western beliefs on the Eastern world”. He rejected both notions vehemently and reiterated that they were invited “despite the band being amateur jiu-jitsu enthusiasts, we’re not very good, and we have no power at all to enforce our will on anyone in Malaysia”.

“In fact, it was the Malaysian authorities who briefly imprisoned us.”

He continued: “If doing the same things which made you aware of them could land them in jail in your country, you’re not actually inviting them to perform, you’re indirectly commanding them to reflect your country’s policies by omission. This goes against the very idea of a site of cultural exchange where differences are allowed to coexist. This fact is a more valuable idea to protect than the bigoted sensitivities of those who wish its demise.”

“The idea that it’s incumbent upon artists to cater to the local cultural sensitives of wherever they’ve been invited to perform sets a very dangerous precedent. It should be expected that if you invite dozens of Western performers into your country, they’ll bring their Western values with them,” he concluded.