In late January, Ice Spice told Elle that while many people wouldn’t expect her to love alternative music, a genre distinctly differernt from her pop-informed drill sound, she’s “obsessed” with the 1975. This revelation only made frontman Matty Healy’s appearance on The Adam Freidland Show a week later even more unfortunate. During the podcast, Healy, Friedland, and his co-host Nick Mullen cracked up over derogatory comments about the rapper’s body and mocked Chinese and Hawaiian accents while speculating about her ethnicity.
Now, months later, Healy is kinda, sorta, but not really, apologized for his offenses.
“I just feel a bit bad, and I’m kind of a bit sorry if I’ve offended you,” Healy told the audience at the 1975’s recent stop in Auckland, New Zealand, issuing a catch-all apology for his multiple offenses over the years. “Ice Spice, I’m sorry. It’s not because I’m annoyed that me joking got misconstrued. It’s because I don’t want Ice Spice to think I’m a dick. I love you, Ice Spice. I’m so sorry.”
Earlier this month, the podcast episode was pulled from both Apple and Spotify, though it is still available on YouTube. During the conversation, Healy mentioned that he once messaged Ice Spice on Instagram, which opened the floodgates for Friedland and Mullen to refer to her as an “Inuit Spice Girl,” saying: “This chubby Chinese lady. ‘Yeah, I rap and [make] music.’ Do they talk like that? Do Inuits talk like that?” What followed was their unabashed mocking of Chinese and Hawaiian accents while Healy laughed along.
If Healy was embarrassed like he told the audience he often is when he finds himself in hot water, which happens at a perplexing frequency, it didn’t show. “Yeah, that’s what Ice Spice is like,” he agreed, co-signing the mockery more than participating. In another instance, the hosts encouraged Healy to message the rapper on Instagram for clarity. “So you slide into her DMs and ask ‘What are you? A fucking Eskimo or something?’”
The 34-year-old also mentioned sliding into Doja Cat‘s DMs, which sent the podcast on a tangent about the rumors about her hanging with white supremacists in online chatrooms. Neither Doja Cat nor Ice Spice responded to him — shocking.
“The truth is, I see a sign that says like, ‘Matty, I hope you’re okay.’ I feel a bit bad, to be honest, because I feel like I’ve been a bit irresponsible,” he told the audience in New Zealand. “It’s very well for me to say, I don’t understand how famous I am. I don’t like being famous. But reality is reality. And I think that I’ve said some things or kind of, I make a joke out of everything. That’s my thing. And I can take it too far sometimes in front of too many people. And I feel a bit embarrassed. So that’s the truth.”
Self-awareness has long rested at the center of the 1975’s public perception, which is helmed almost solely by Healy. Their music is his search for a way to be sincere while also keeping up with a bit. It’s his way of providing social commentary on the digital age and societal shifts. So it makes sense that even his apology to someone else would also be about him. He isn’t sorry that he participated in racially-motivated and body-shaming conversations about a successful woman 11 years younger than him — he’s sorry that it made him look bad, pulling back the curtain on the type of missteps his fans are used to forgiving.
“Love listening to three privileged white dudes sit around and objectify a young black female artist who’s blowing up,” the British musician Yungblud tweeted after the podcast was released. “Welcome to your 30’s I guess…” In response, Healy uploaded a video to Instagram Stories mocking the pop-rock singer’s championing of activism and the “underrated youth.”
“I’m making jokes about shit because because if I don’t, then I have to be really sincere and I don’t like doing that,” Healy said. “And I know that this is a paradox, but this is really freaking me out and I feel like I need to do this. If this is part of the story, I’m a little bit sorry about shit that I’ve said, sometimes. I never meant to hurt anybody.”
Three songs into their set on Friday, the 1975 performed “Sincerity is Scary” from A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. The song, which captures Healy’s struggle to be completely earnest and upfront, was released over four years ago, but he still hasn’t learned to face his fears.