Troye Sivan is a name the world is gradually getting more familiar with and after completing two sold-out London shows, with fans queuing from 6am, you can see why. Before heading back to the other side of the world for his Australia and New Zealand leg of the tour we were lucky enough to catch up with Troye to chat about everything from musical inspiration to his ‘extremely personal’ debut album, and also how his amazing fans make everything worthwhile.
Troye Sivan is having a pretty great time RN. The initially-YouTube-famous-now-actually-huge music star is in the middle of his Blue Neighbourhood tour, which has already taken on the US and UK, with Europe, New Zealand and his adopted homeland Australia still to go (Troye was born in South Africa, but has lived in Australia since he was two). Earlier this month he picked up a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist, almost three years after he publicly came out in a YouTube video, cementing his status as an LGBT activist and icon. And all this at just 20 years old. Squeezing in a quick visit to ASOS HQ the day after his second London show, we caught up with Troye to talk dream collabs, internet memes and advice for his diehard fanbase.
Troye stopped by RTÉ 2FM in Ireland and talked about music, fans, performed “Youth” and Amy Winehouse’s “Love Is a Losing Game”. Listen to the full interview below.
Troye Sivan’s recent US tour was an eventful one.
At one of his gigs a man proposed to his boyfriend. At another, a teenage girl used the concert to come out to her mum.
She handed Troye a note on stage and it said: “If you’re reading this, can you announce that Kelly is bisexual?”
After checking that Kelly was sure she wanted it reading out, Troye delivered the message to huge cheers from the crowd.
“I got all choked up and couldn’t really look at her. I got off stage and I watched this video that someone took of Kelly and her mum meeting outside of the venue after the show and it’s one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen.”
Kelly’s coming out reflects the influence Troye – as an openly gay singer – has had on his fans.
The South African’s own coming out video, published in 2013, has been viewed more than six million times and he’s happy to be seen as a role model to other teenagers who may be struggling with their identity.
“It’s really amazing and kind of overwhelming in a way that people are committing themselves to the music in that way. It’s humbling.”
But is the 20-year-old worried that someone is going to want to do something special at every gig he does?
“A little bit actually!” he says.
“Somebody’s going to propose at every show and is not going to want to get married and just do it for the lols. But I’m fine with that.”
He recently won outstanding music artist at the 2016 GLAAD awards, which recognise people for their “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community”.
Troye’s fans are devoted. He’s even seen some of them with Troye tattoos and lyrics to his songs.
“We had the lyrics to Ease on this one girl’s thigh. Lyrics from Lost Boy on somebody’s arm. I’ve seen Wild tattoos before.”
Troye has four million subscribers on YouTube.
His first video was posted in 2007 in which a very young Troye sings into a webcam. He got into the vlogging world early.
“The internet’s a very big place and I think getting seen in that environment is more difficult than ever. At the same time, there are ways to be seen and realise what works and what doesn’t and keep shifting. I reckon it could still happen for anyone.”
Sometimes an interview subject says they don’t want to talk about something and they really don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes they literally mean they don’t want to name names, but anything else is fair game. Troye Sivan was not interested in calling out any one suitor in particular, but he was more than happy to talk about boys for a good long stretch in the middle of our interview.
We gotta talk about boys. Do you have a boyfriend?
So… [pauses] I feel like I share everything about myself. Like everything everything, especially in the music and stuff like that. So I am just, like—that’s the one thing where I’m like, I should keep something to myself.
Okay—but in the liner notes to Blue Neighbourhood you thanked “my beautiful boyfriend.”
I did that because I felt like it was at least then it’s on my own terms. It’s in my album liner notes where I wrote them. It was important to me to pay tribute to that person and thank that person, because I think they were super instrumental to the process of making the album. I don’t think I could’ve done it without them. But as far as defining that relationship and defining who that person is and everything—I think I’m, like, pretty sweet.
I’ve had this conversation with a lot of people, and it’s the cover of Out. I’m not looking to blindside you, but I am trying to tell a story in a deeper way. There’s usually a couple different reasons why people don’t want to say. Sometimes it’s about being young and not being sure if it’s going to last—
That’s pretty much it for me. I don’t even know what’s going on, so I don’t really want to put anything on paper. Which is why I question the liner note a little bit. Then again I don’t really care because at that particular time, that was something I felt was important to do, I guess. I’m just so…20. I don’t even know what’s going on. So I’m never sure how to define anything in a magazine or in print. It seems very permanent.
What are you looking for in a boyfriend? What’s meaningful to you?
What’s meaningful to me is…I was going to say being stimulated but that doesn’t sound very good at all. [laughs] Being very mentally stimulated by the person. I’m very attracted to worldly people and cultured people who have seen more movies than I have and who can recommend albums to me that are going to make me cry. And can make me laugh. It’s one of those things where in so many ways in my life I’ve always felt—and this is going to sound so conceited and gross—but I think I’ve always felt a bit, like, other from everyone else. That probably comes a little bit from being LGBTQ and also not liking sports as a kid and also from being the only person in my school who tried to do anything like the entertainment industry. I just felt a little bit—I don’t want to say superior because it wasn’t that. I just felt other and different. To kind of find someone who I think is a step ahead of me and is different from me that I don’t understand—because I always felt that I understood everyone and then understood that I was not like that. So for me the idea of not fully understanding someone and not fully being able to get them super easily and quickly, that’s interesting to me and attractive to me and is probably going to keep me interested. Plus, then, it’s nice if they’re good looking I guess [laughs]. Hot boys.
Do you have a type?
I think I do. I don’t know though. It’s one of those things—I think I like pretty boys. Not necessarily—I just think I like pretty boys. Pretty boys with nice faces, I’d say it is.
Have you had a serious boyfriend?
Yeah, I’ve been on, like, dates and stuff like that. I probably started doing that when I was, like, 16 and I’d say I’ve really, really fallen for maybe two people.
How did you know you’d fallen for them?
I think it’s just one of those things where you know as soon as the panic sets in, then, like, cool, this is something. As soon as I just start feeling constantly on edge and vulnerable and stuff like that then that’s probably where I’m like, okay, cool I like this person.
Have you ever had your heart broken?
I have. Yeah, by the first person I ever really, really liked. I was just really super naïve, and we were from completely different worlds and he was quite a bit older than I was. It was one of those things where there were some real differences between where we were from and though we met in the middle a little bit and it was really exciting and cool, in the end of the day those things ended up catching up. I just don’t think it meant as much to him as it did to me. Also it was my first crush. I was 16. I was so heart eyes about everything. It just didn’t end up happening.
How much older are we talking about?
He was maybe three to four years older than me.
I realized I had no idea what that meant to you! Could have been 10 years, 20. You said you like worldly…
But also I get a little bit creeped out by that because I feel young, and I feel boyish. As soon as anyone who’s like—if they’re over 30. No actually, that’s a lie—if they’re over 31. Then I’m like, Why are you interested in me? This is a little weird. Because I look like a 16-year-old.
Wait, what’s the difference between 30 and 31? Is that a specific person or a hard line for you?
It’s the former. I don’t know, I just feel like that’s something I didn’t expect and then all of a sudden, I guess, that’s my limit.
Have you ever broken someone else’s heart?
I think I have.
How did you know? How did you handle it?
It’s horrible. It’s like the worst thing in the world. I detest it. These are the things I’m learning. Relationships are so weird. The whole thing is so weird, because you care so much for that person and you become best friends and everything like that. Then it seems so abrasive and abrupt to me that people break up. That concept. The whole idea of it. As someone who is just starting to venture into romantic endeavors, having only previously been friends with people. You don’t break up with your parents. Unless you have a horrible fight, you don’t break up with your best friend. It’s only romantically. That’s been a very strange thing I never thought about before. Just the nature of breaking up, in general, people get hurt and that’s something that I’m learning. You see it in movies and stuff like that, but don’t necessarily get it. Then you feel it and it happens to you or you do it someone else. And it really just sucks.
Here is the question I ask everyone: how do you describe your sexuality?
That’s a really good question. I don’t know. I don’t want to use the word gay… [pauses] I would say that—is it weird to use the word fun? Is that weird?
There’s no judgment on any answer. I’ve gotten all kinds.
Fun is how I feel. I feel lucky. I feel proud.
What’s fun about it?
Fun is kissing boys and kissing girls sometimes. I just feel like one thing I really cherish is that that lack of template that stressed me out as a little kid, like do gay people get married? Do gay people have kids? Do they do that at the same age as straight people? My friends are going to get boyfriends and girlfriends, get married, have kids—that’s the way life works, especially where I’m from. For me that mold or model of life was just kind of shattered. I could be single forever and no one would bat an eyelid. There’s just kind of no rules and no one knows what to expect. I really appreciate that, so I’d say that’s a fun thing about it as well. It’s really open-ended. Of course I want to find someone, but I don’t feel like it would be overly weird if I was to be single and have a kid by myself, or if I was to find a partner and never have any kids, that’s also fine. I appreciate that fluidity. Then it’s also the fact that I can go kiss girls, kiss boys, I can do whatever I want, and no one will bat an eyelid. Now that that’s out there, I can do whatever I want.