With 239,225,053 YouTube views to his name, Troye Sivan needs no introduction to anyone who is at least a little bit familiar with the Internet.
Coup De Main spoke to the 20-year-old actor/vlogger turned singer-songwriter recently about his forthcoming debut album...
"I think the world's starting to realise that there are far more identities than LGBT and there's far more gender identities than male or female. And I think it's just about realising that humans are complex and that every relationship and every person deserves to have their experience represented and told..."
COUP DE MAIN: So, you worked with three New Zealanders on your EP, Georgia and Caleb from Broods, as well as Dann Hume, AND the 'Wild' EP is #1 on NZ iTunes currently! I think this means that you have to fly over and visit us soon, Troye!
TROYE SIVAN: Seriously, I remember 'Happy Little Pill' and 'TRXYE' getting so much support in New Zealand. And then I went to Queenstown for a holiday a couple of months ago and fell in love with it, so New Zealand is like my number one place that I really wanna come and play shows. And yeah, like you said it's #1 on iTunes there and 'Wild' the track is doing really well, so yeah I definitely have to come over and say thank you at some point.
CDM: What was it like co-writing 'Ease' with Broods?
TROYE: It was so cool. It was set up by my record label, and I have been such a huge fan of them for a long time that there was like an element of starstruck-ness at first probably. And then once I got over that I just realised how humble and down-to-earth they are and how talented they are as well. The drum-beat that we used in 'Ease' was kind of Caleb's first idea, and then Georgia just started playing chords and it was her first chords - they just have such a sense of their sound and their melody, and it sounds 'Broodsy' but also sounds like me, and it's just a dream collaboration for me.
CDM: 'DKLA' is my favourite song on your 'Wild' EP, and it’s rad that you have Tkay Maidza on there. How did that collaboration come about?
TROYE: Awww rad, thank you. That one was a little different, we actually didn't write in the room together. I had 'DKLA' the demo just sitting on my laptop for a good few months and there's such a sick beat in it that I would just kind of catch myself mumbling as if I was some rapper - which obviously I'm not one, but you know, just kind of mumbling under my breath - and started thinking about how cool it would be to get a rapper on it. And then I knew that I wanted to be a female voice. I knew that I wanted a female to use the lower end of her voice and Tkay was basically the only person who came to mind. She is absolutely killing it and I'm so proud that she's Australian. So I thought, 'Okay, let's try it and take a shot and see what she says and kind of hope for the best.' She got back to us with a GarageBand demo in two days, then went to go put it down in the studio a couple of days later.
CDM: And what was it like working with Allie X on 'Bite'?
TROYE: Allie's one of my favourite writers to work with. She's just absolutely crazy. And I think it comes through in the music, and I appreciate her giving me that gift of her, like, kookiness, I guess.
CDM: In 'The Quiet' you sing, "I'd rather be spitting blood / Than have this silence fuck me up." Do you think that communication, or lack of, is one of the strongest weapons that a human can wield?
TROYE: 100% yes. I wrote that song when I was like… it's one of the only times that I've written when an experience is happening to me that very day and I was writing about that very experience at that exact time. And so there's a lot of real specifics in that song that just kind of aren't elsewhere in my music. I just remember feeling so so so incredibly frustrated - that is literally the way that I felt. I would have much much rather had a really really horrible fight with someone, than just not hear from them at all. So yeah, I definitely think so.
CDM: Because gay relationships are so often sexualised in the media, you’ve said it was important for you to show an innocent and cute relationship in the 'Wild' music video. Even just in the representation of lesbian relationships as opposed to gay relationships, do you think there’s a disparity? Lesbian relationships have been normalised somewhat since pop culture deemed girl-on-girl relationships to be 'sexy'.
TROYE: I think at the end of the day... first of all, yeah, for a while I definitely think that lesbian relationships were-- you always get those guys that are like, 'Gay guys gross me out but lesbians are cool.' It's just so eye-roll and gross. I think the world's starting to realise that there are far more identities than LGBT and there's far more gender identities than male or female. And I think it's just about realising that humans are complex and that every relationship and every person deserves to have their experience represented and told. For me personally, it was about telling a gay one, but I definitely think that there's so much missing in the media - whether it's a trans-relationship, or maybe there isn't enough lesbian, or maybe there's not enough gay relationships, maybe there's not enough bisexual people in the media - everyone has a long way to go. And for me it's about representing my personal story and what I personally wanted to tell, but there's definitely a lack of representation in general I'd say.
CDM: Frank Ocean, Sam Smith and Olly from Years & Years singing male pronouns in their lyrics is one of the most revolutionary things to have happened to pop music in recent times, I feel. Is that something that’s important to you too?
TROYE: Definitely, yeah. I look up to all of those people, and for me, music is about honesty. Songwriting has been the most important thing in my life for the last couple of years, and yeah these songs are about boys, so I just felt the need to say that basically.
CDM: Years & Years are on the cover of our next issue, so we're asking everyone that we interview, what's your favourite Years & Years song?
TROYE: I really like 'Eyes Shut', but there's two versions of 'Eyes Shut'. I think I prefer the album version of 'Eyes Shut'. I saw them sing it live and Olly did it stripped-back, and it was just really really amazing, and yeah they're incredible.
CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
TROYE: I just want them to apply it to their lives; I think that's the coolest thing. I've spent so much of my life having a feeling, and then feeling like the only thing that understands that feeling is music or a song. And then that song I can listen to months and months later, and it always kind of takes you back to that particular moment. And so yeah, I think it's about just basically the fans being able to do that with my music. If they can hear a song that I wrote about a specific story to me that happened, and they can apply it to how their ex-boyfriend, I dunno, cheated on them or whatever and make it personal, make it mean something to them, then that's like what it's all about for me.
CDM: Is there any sort of particular feeling that you want people to walk away from when they get to hear your album?
TROYE: I just want them to be like, 'Whoah! That was good!'
CDM: The Romeo & Romeo star-crossed lovers narrative in the 'Wild' video is really moving. What do you think it is about the classic theme of families clashing and disapproval that is so universally heartbreaking?
TROYE: I think it's just like, nailed home the message of love is love, and there's not a lot that should get between it. And so I think that it strikes a chord with a lot of people.
CDM: When can we expect your debut album?
TROYE: My debut album... you can expect it really, really soon. Very soon! Like before the end of the year if all goes to plan.
CDM: For the next few questions, just say the first thing that pops into your mind… If your new album were a colour, which colour would it be?
CDM: If your album were an animal?
TROYE: A sad puppy maybe?
CDM: If it were a kind of burger?
TROYE: Probably like a fried egg, mild cheddar-- I'm just giving you my burger preferences. <laughs>
CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
TROYE: Probably just depth in general - I wanna be able to listen to a song for the fiftieth time and hear a new sound in the track or hear a lyric in a different way and be taken by surprise by it. So I guess the more time and love you spend putting into it in the writing-room, that's gonna show up later.
CDM: The music industry is today monetising artist-experiences for fans in increasingly transparent ways - I’ve heard of meet & greet packages being sold to fans for US$6,000 that don’t even include a concert ticket. So I think it’s interesting that two of the biggest artists in the world today, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, both decided at the very beginning of their careers that they would never ever charge fans to meet them, and to this day have stayed true to that promise. I know you’ve appeared at YouTube conventions, but having not toured yet, I was wondering how you feel about musicians charging their fans to meet them?
TROYE: I don’t know... I haven't really given it that much thought. Like you said, I go to a lot of YouTube conventions and there's a ticket to get into the convention, but then once you're in, the meet and greets are part of the package and that's probably the way that it should be. I would never wanna give a fan who's maybe like economically more well off than another, a better experience. So yeah, probably ideally it would be like some sort of lottery system or something like that.
CDM: You’re very involved with the online Tumblr community - what are your thoughts on the rise of young people blogging their own think-pieces and engaging with their peers on an intellectual level online?
TROYE: I think it's awesome. I think that people are being educated more now than ever because of the Internet and at a younger age. There's this real kind of culture right now of everyone trying to educate themselves as much as possible and I think that's a really, really positive thing. Sometimes it's a little bit violent in its approach, which I think will probably change, but yeah the culture is definitely pointing towards people being more socially aware and that's never a bad thing.
CDM: We’re now going to play a little game of 'Would You Rather?'... So, would you rather be a special-guest on Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour or be cast in a film-adaptation of a John Green book?
TROYE: Ohhh that's a good question. I'm gonna have to say the 1989 Tour right now. Sorry, John Green.
CDM: Would you rather be best friends with Hugh Jackman or adult Wolverine?
TROYE: Best friends with Hugh Jackman.
CDM: Would you rather be able to hear people’s thoughts or be able to teleport anywhere you wanted?
TROYE: Be able to teleport anywhere I wanted.
CDM: If T.R.O.Y.E. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
TROYE: WHOAH. Umm, I'm just gonna spit out words I guess. The. Real. Official. Yes. Eggplant. I have no idea, I'm sorry!
CDM: What do you think is your spirit animal?
TROYE: My spirit animal is probably a sad puppy. So that's why I guess the album must be like that.
CDM: What's left on your bucket-list that you'd really like to achieve?
TROYE: I just wanna play my first live show. I think that's like my number one priority right now, is getting comfortable on stage and starting to do that. So yeah, I'd say that.
CDM: How do you think your songs will translate from the recorded versions to a live setting?
TROYE: Well, we're working on it. I'm trying to-- I wanna make the live experience like an experience that you can't get anywhere else. And that it's really, really different from the album, while obviously, you know, bringing the album to life. It's kind of a hard balance, but it's one that I'm really excited to find.
CDM: Do you see yourself incorporating any kind of theatrical elements into your show or is it going to be quite music-based?
TROYE: I definitely think it'll be mostly music-based, but of course I wanna build that into an amazing visual-show and light-show and work on that side of things as well. But yeah, I basically just wanna kind of sit down and have a chat and sing the songs.
Troye Sivan’s ‘Wild’ EP is out now - click HERE to purchase it via iTunes.
Watch the ‘Fools’ music video below…