Born in South Africa, raised in Australia and now living right here in L.A. — pop singer Troye Sivan has already squeezed so much into his 23 years. Ten years ago, he even played the role of “young Wolverine” in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, instantly earning himself points from the rabid comic book community.
Last year though, he blended his music and movie careers to far more serious effect. He provided the song “Revelation” to the soundtrack of the film Boy Erased, which stars Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges, as well as Sivan, and tells the story of the son of a Baptist preacher going through the horrors of gay conversion therapy. The song earned Sivan a Golden Globe nomination, which provided him the opportunity to discuss this very serious issue on the biggest of stages.
“Any time you get that sort of recognition from such an important institution, it feels really nice,” he says. “It’s a nice ego stroke. [It] lets you know you’re on the right track, I think. For me, that song was so important because it really pointed to a much bigger issue — conversion therapy. To be able to walk the carpet and do these big press interviews and stuff like that, and have an opportunity to speak on that issue in such a public way, I’m really thankful for the nomination because of that.”
Sivan came out publicly in 2013 via YouTube, three years after telling his family; conversion therapy is an issue that is close to Sivan’s heart, though he admits that he had no idea how widespread the problem was prior to beginning work on the film and song.
“Even for me, knowing that it existed and knowing that it was still happening, I had no idea how prevalent conversion therapy still is,” he says. “Reading the script and then doing my research really fired me up.”
Boy Erased was released in the same year as Sivan’s second studio album, Bloom, the follow-up to 2015’s Blue Neighborhood. Sivan says that the new material marks a clear level of growth.
“The biggest thing for me was just a gained sense of confidence in studio and on music video shoots,” he says. “With the first album, it was a lot about learning how to get from point A to point B, and now that I felt like I had a better understanding of how to do that, I could nuance what I was trying to say and what I wanted to sound like, and go much deeper into my identity as a songwriter and as an artist.”
When asked to describe his sound today, he struggles for a moment before settling comfortably on “pop.” That’s his first love, and it’s certainly a label that fits him. That said, he’s all for challenging his listeners — offering them something that will keep them interested when the bubblegum flavor wears off. He believes, in fact, that this is a healthy time for pop.
“I remember when [Lorde’s] ‘Royals’ came out and how big of a moment I felt that was for pop, the fact that that song was as huge a hit as it was,” Sivan says. “There was at some point a real turning point where people really started striving to make cool, interesting pop music. I think that’s partly one of the motivations for me behind starting Go West Fest, knowing about all of these artists and feeling so immersed in the pop community and wanting to really celebrate them and scream from the rooftops about them. Starting the festival for me was a way to bring attention to artists that I love, that are doing really amazing work, be it in pop or another genre. Drawing attention to people who are making music that I think just makes you think a little bit and makes you feel any type of way.”
That’s a nice transition into Go West Fest, the event that Sivan is hosting and curating as part of this year’s LA Pride festivities. He says that it all came from his desire to celebrate queer artists that are making amazing music.
“As a music fan, I saw an opportunity to curate a lineup that I think is going to put on a really incredible show for everyone,” he says. “Following immediately after, the main goal of this is to give back to the community in real, tangible ways, so we’re working with GLAAD on the event, the LGBT Center — we’re gonna have a lot of independent LGBT artists selling prints, paintings and t-shirts, pretty much whatever you can think of, so we’re supporting them in that way. We’re working with the Tom Of Finland Foundation to sell some of their prints and give back to them. I just wanted to put together this huge party that felt artful and interesting, cool and fun, like a big party. You can buy your ticket knowing that this is legitimately going to serve our community.”
Despite living here now, this will be Sivan’s first time performing at LA Pride and he says that he’s super excited, adding that some of his best memories are from Pride events around the world.
“I feel like any time you can get together and visibly look out and see people who you know are there to support you for whoever you are, after existing for so long in a world where that just wasn’t the case, everyone can walk in and breathe a deep sigh of relief and let loose for the night, that’s really special,” he says.
Sivan says that his own set at Go West Fest will offer “banger after banger,” and he’s excited to see the other performers, including Charli XCX. The show takes place at the Wiltern, one of his favorite L.A. venues, and he says that it will feel more like a buzzing club night than a regular music festival.
We’re sure he’ll do the city and his community proud.