The Big Issue : Edition 569
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 24 AUG–6 SEP 2018 31 LIKE PICKING UP a book and reading from the middle, listening to Troye Sivan’s second record, Bloom, is to stumble across an artist fully formed and welcoming you into an instantly familiar inner world. Three years on from the release of his debut record, Blue Neighbourhood, Sivan has fully realised his desire to treat each of his albums as distinct time capsules of his life. Where that first record chronicled a teenager balancing carefully on the edge of a diving board, about to somersault into far-flung places and stratospheric fame, Bloom captures PHOTOBYHEIDISLIMANE two singles, ‘My My My!’ and ‘Bloom’. These singles signalled that the next phase of the Troye Sivan story was imminent, and it would be bolder and sexier than what had come before. It also changed Sivan’s relationship to his own craft. “It was songwriting that really cemented my love for pop music, in that I realised just how much of an art form – like any other genre – it is. It’s not easy, you know. I’m not at all scared of it anymore.” Something he’s also fully embraced is being completely transparent about how autobiographical the songs on Bloom are. Sivan makes it clear that his lyrics are pulled straight from his personal life – and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I started songwriting because I was listening to Amy Winehouse,” he remembers. “She was the first artist I listened to that I felt like wasn’t writing songs for me; she was writing songs for herself because she had to. She was not sparing any details and she was being as specific as she wanted. I got really inspired and started to write, and just treated it literally like a diary. So I don’t really know how to write impersonally now; I just write whatever is going on in my life and treat it as openly as I possibly can.” Whether the subject matter is bailing on a party to enjoy a partner’s company in the privacy of their home (as in the record’s third single, ‘Dance to This’ featuring Ariana Grande), looking back on his first relationship with an older man – as he does on album opener ‘Seventeen’ – or dreaming of growing old with his current boyfriend, as in the Smiths- inspired ‘What a Heavenly Way to Die’, Troye Sivan is inviting you into the pages of his personal life. And he’s counting on the combination of earworm pop melodies, affecting lyrics and dreamily imagined scenes to make you stay. Once you’re there, you’ll never want to leave. by Brodie Lancaster (@brodielancaster) » Bloom is out now. Erased, starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman). It was also on YouTube that a teenage Sivan came out as gay – a move he timed deliberately, as he’d signed to EMI just a few months earlier, and wanted to establish his career as a pop singer with no secrets to hide. Since then, life bloomed before his eyes. Blue Neighbourhood sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide, saw him embark on sold-out tours globally and take home GLAAD and Billboard awards. After closing out the tour, Sivan closed the book on that record – for now at least. “I haven’t really [revisited] Blue Neighbourhood [since touring wrapped],” he says. “I think it’s sort of like watching home videos; they really only have value once quite a lot of time has passed.” Still, it proved a strong jumping-off point for where he’d go next, guided by the artists who informed his approach to songwriting and unguarded embrace of pop. “I had a lot of ideas [for the second record],” he says, name- checking everyone from experimental 80s dream-pop collective This Mortal Coil and The Velvet Underground, to beloved cult pop stars Carly Rae Jepsen and Sky Ferreira as influences on Bloom’s direction. “And I somehow wanted to include all of it.” To decipher and find the commonalities between these far- ranging references, Sivan enlisted the MXM Crew, the music production company led by the legendary and enigmatic Max Martin. Think of any massive Top 40 pop song from the past 20 years and it’s likely Martin’s fingerprints are on it, directly or simply as inspiration. “I knew that I wanted to work with them eventually, but I knew that I definitely wanted to be really secure in the sound before I went in just to make sure I didn’t get kind of bulldozed by what I thought was going to be this crazy pop machine,” Sivan explains. Bulldozed, he wasn’t; Martin and co loved his demos, and found the “poppiest edge” of the album’s first THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 24 AUG–6 SEP 2018 31 STORY STORY a confidence unearthed through its creator’s new life in Los Angeles, and the love he’s found there. “I really like the idea of projecting into the future and seeing what turned out and what didn’t. And I like looking back on the past a little bit and reflecting on where I was then versus where I am now,” he explains, of Bloom’s preoccupation with time – which manifests in stories of youth taken advantage of, the benefit of hindsight, and imagining a rose- coloured future. The 23-year-old singer first found an audience performing covers and uploading video diaries on YouTube from his Perth bedroom. Soon, millions of followers around the world watched as he went from modelling couture on Paris runways to appearing in films and plays (including much-awaited Joel Edgerton film Boy Troye Sivan went from being a teenager singing covers in his Perth bedroom to a movie and music superstar. And he’s determined to keep going.