Despite the relentless chaos 2020 has thrown everyone’s way, Troye Sivan manages to mould it to himself and wear it with ease. It comes as no surprise – the 25-year-old megastar has been adapting to walk through open doors his entire life.
It’s how he can bill himself as a YouTuber-turned-actor-turned-global-pop-sensation and how we’re only just learning through isolation of the many other talents up his sleeve.
By the sounds of it, the coronavirus curveball came at an opportune time when Troye was already tossing up whether or not to ditch the Los Angeles lifestyle for a break back in Australia. The decision was made for him, to “Take Yourself Home”.
It’s the sentiment and track that opens his new EP, In A Dream:
I’m tired of the city
Scream if you’re with me
If I’m gonna die, let’s die somewhere pretty, oh oh
Oh oh oh oh
Sad in the summer
City needs a mother
If I’m gonna waste my time, then it’s time to go
Take yourself home
This single was penned long before his return to Australia was booked. In fact, Troye was busy filming a top-secret film in Atlanta (“I need to ask the producers if I can start talking about it… But I don’t think I’m allowed to, right now,” he told me over the phone) when COVID hit and he evacuated to his family’s Melbourne home.
And that’s where we picked up, with Troye locked down in his brother’s granny flat out back, which he’s been calling home for the past few weeks.
“I’m currently trying to put some roots down in Melbourne, so we’ll see how we go. But all things considered, I’ve really really loved spending time here. It’s the most extended period of time I’ve ever spent here and I just love it so yeah. I’m going to start looking to make this feel like home I think,” he said.
After realising he can work remotely more than he thought, a 50-50 split between L.A. and Melbourne is on the cards. After all, he’s managing to churn out music videos despite isolation, endless content creation from the comfort of his bedroom, and a full EP release using his worldwide network online.
In A Dream features some of Troye’s most honest songs to date as they presumably document his breakup with his partner of four years, Jacob Bixenman.
He didn’t set out to create something record-breaking. Instead, he made something rule-breaking; “This really potent mix of songs and emotions,” as he puts it. The record purely a cathartic exercise to process the rough period he found himself in.
“Normally I would go into an album writing process with a sonic mood board of how I wanted the album to feel and how I wanted it to sound like. And this time I didn’t go in with anything like that, because I just went in trying to tell these stories of where I was at day-to-day. And I think anyone who’s been through a tough time like this, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions where you’re feeling different every hour, let alone every day,” he said.
Each song creates a new world within his dreamy escapism through their diverse production. “STUD” instantly launches you into a sweaty nightclub, whereas “10/10” takes you to a bathroom reverie.
““10/10”, when you do hear it eventually, you’ll hear that it starts in a bathroom almost, it’s just super bathroomy-reverb with me and one instrument. And then, it expands into this really weird, dream-like, surreal place. Then, it ends back into bathroom almost as if the whole thing is just some fantasy,” Troye explained. “And so exploring the sonics like that, as a storytelling tool, that’s more interesting to me, rather than trying to make a cohesive pop record or something.”
His storytelling on this body of work expanded beyond sonics and onto the screen as he made his directorial debut for the music video for his single “Easy”.
“For me, that’s when I know that I’m excited about something that I’m writing, is when I start imagining the music video. And actually, the first thing that came to me [for “Easy”], was the super exaggerated, hyper, charismatic red head version of myself with the drag queen band. I don’t know why, but that just popped into my head for the video as I wrote the song. I was set on that and I thought I was going to have somebody else direct it. And then, through necessity, I ended up directing it myself,” he said.
It’s not Troye’s first dalliance with video, having amassed an enormous YouTube following of 7.25M subscribers through not only his music but also his viral vlogs and challenges. Before that, Troye’s career was launched on the silver screen at the age of 14 as the young Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he then moved into the titular role for the South African hit franchise Spud throughout his teenage years.
Would screenwriting ever be on the cards?
“I’ve actually never tried it… Maybe it’s because I feel like there’s rules that I don’t know,” he disclosed. “I think one of the best things that ever happened to me was when I realised that there’s no rules with song writing. There’s these guidelines, like pop structure guidelines you can follow, that makes a song feel like it makes sense to a lot of people. But still, I feel like there’s so much [to screenwriting], just shit that I don’t know, like character development and arcs and antagonists and the protagonist. Things just need to happen I feel like, that I don’t know about. And so, it’s always intimidated me too much and I’ve never tried it.”
A surprising new career turn more likely to happen is interior design. Having the time through lockdown and being “bored for the first time in a while”, Troye and his father Shaun have been busy woodworking and flipping furniture, reigniting Troye’s love for design while he susses out a Melbourne residence. He’s even taken a short online course to get the creative juices flowing for his eventual redecoration.
“I mean, it’s always about comfort first and foremost, I think, but also I’m obsessed with new-century modernism in general. And I think having spent a lot of time in L.A. it really has been ingrained into me as my go-to aesthetic,” he said of his style vision.
“But, then as well, just making sure that the space feels really young. I just want it to represent me as a person. So it’s got to smell nice, be homey and comfortable and grounded, but also still, I don’t know, just a little weird, because I think that always is fun.”
Soon his house will be overflowing with design coffee table books (“That is the perfect gift, seriously. If anybody ever wants to get me a gift, that’s exactly what I want”).
In A Dream – not a homage to his first EP at the age of 10, Dare to Dream… – is his immediate future. Despite being written before the murmurs of the pandemic, the body of work holds an accurate mirror to the world at this time. “I feel like completely besides anything going on in my life, the last few months has felt like a dream for so many people. And it’s like, “Am I in a dream? Or am I in a nightmare?”,’ he said. “We can’t leave our houses. So the thought of being able to fall asleep and go somewhere else or just any sort of escape through creativity or making something or whatever it is for you… Like, for me, I’ve found a lot of escapism when I’m asleep the last couple months.”
Dreaming is the best way to listen to this album: lying on your bed, eyes closed as you unpick his diaristic lyrics.
Grab a pillow and prepare to embark on the luxury of travel as you hop through Troye’s worlds.
Main Image Credit: Tim Ashton.