Troye Sivan has never been one to rest on his laurels. For the last month, the Australian star has been hard at work, either releasing new music, modeling underwear in Rihanna’s annual fashion show, or turning heads at the Met Gala.
Now, the star is teaming up with Lenovo and Intel Evo to help bring his fans’ artistic visions to life. Joining the two brands’ creative music program, For All Creators, Sivan will be working with a yet-to-be-announced designer in selecting submissions from fans looking to design an art installation that will serve as a backdrop to Sivan’s upcoming performance at Art Basel Miami Beach this December.
Fans will get the opportunity to create mood boards, collages or sketches inspired by Lenovo’s Yoga 2-in-1 laptop, and supporting specific themes like “Paradise on Earth,” “Technology and Progress” and more. Once the submissions are in, Sivan and one of Architectural Digest’s AD100 2021 designers will select the winners, and work directly with them on creating a full art installation for Sivan’s performance.
“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Lenovo and Intel Evo on For All Creators. I can’t wait to see the originality and creativity from the contest winners and go on this artistic journey with them,” Sivan says of the new partnership. “It will be incredible to see their authentic designs come to life and have the opportunity to showcase their work alongside one of my all-time favorite designers for my performance in celebration of Art Basel.”
To celebrate the new project, Billboard chatted with Sivan ahead of the announcement about working with fans — as well as his latest single “Angel Baby,” attending the Met Gala and much more.
You’re teaming up with Lenovo and Intel on their For All Creators program, where you will be working directly with fans on their artistic creations. What are you most looking forward to with this project?
I mean, this project, when it first came around, was like a dream project to me, because it combines so many of my favorite things — music, technology, design and art. It sounded like such a cool opportunity to flex so many different muscles.
One of my favorite things about what I do is getting to collaborate with people. I have some of the most talented… I hate the word “fans,” but people who like my music or whatever. [Laughs.] They are super talented, and in the past, I’ve reached out to them for everything from album art help to videos. Especially in the pandemic, I’ve really used my Instagram as something of an outreach to creative people, so to be able to now do that on a bigger scales is just really exciting for me.
Your fanbase is so collaborative — I remember when you were putting out “Take Yourself Home” and you were, as you said, working directly with them on just about every aspect of that song.
Completely! I am surprised constantly, because they have such good taste, too. They’re really, really creative, and it just makes me more excited about this project.
I’ve noticed in following your social media that you’ve taken an interest over the last couple years in architecture and interior design, which is a part of For All Creators. How do you feel those interests are going to play together with your musicality for this project?
That’s a really interesting thing, right? Like, I’ve always been interested in interior design, and architecture and homes and things like that. It started when I got to America for the first time, and I stayed with my manager Brandon — I lived with him for like six months, and he had the most beautiful home in the entire world. It really planted this seed in my head, on how someone achieves this kind of feeling in a place. It got me thinking about design, so I just started educating myself, and really falling in love with it.
It was a complete side hobby, passion project of mine — but I finally took the plunge and did my own house in Melbourne that was eventually featured in Architectural Digest. And it was just so crazy to feel that people were responding to this thing that I thought was just something I did because I loved it. So now, this is my first time getting to explore that in a more official way — that’s not just my own house. [Laughs.] I’m sort of just using this as an opportunity to work with someone that I want to work with in the future on like a house or something. It’s really exciting to step into this world and learn from one of the best.
You recently released “Angel Baby,” which is such a fun new sound from you. It’s interesting to see you take on this very earnest, unwaveringly romantic, ’80s-style power ballad, when that’s a bit of a left turn from some of your past releases. What made you want to take a different route with this song?
I wish I could take all the credit, but there are some truly incredible co-writers on the song [Jason Evigan, Michael Pollack, James Abrahart and Sarah Hudson]. I normally like to start from scratch with my songs — but this one, I did not, so I cannot take all the credit. I heard the chorus of this song, and was like, “This is a perfect chorus.” It felt like something that had existed in the universe for all of time, and it scratched this nice, nostalgic, warm part of my brain. So then, it was just about trying to figure out, “OK: How do I now, a) pull this off, and then b) make it my story and make it work for me?” So I wrote the rest of the song around that chorus.
The thing is, I think a lot of the time, when I’m songwriting, I’ll sort of get in my own way a little bit. You can overanalyze stuff, and say, “No, I could never sing that, I could never say that, it’s too much, or it’s too big.” It’s a lot of keeping myself in check, and it’s something that I have to work on — because sometimes when I’m in the studio, I literally have to think to myself, “Would the idealized version of myself in my head do this?” And I kind of have to detach myself from the work a little bit.
I’m pretty private, and I’m actually quite introverted, so you really have to put up this false confidence until you actually have it. So I was really thankful that this song pushed me in a way where it’s something that I’m unbelievably proud of now. I’m so excited to call it mine, you know? It was definitely a stretch outside of my comfort zone, but it was totally worth it.
I was really struck by how the song also manages to sort of coalesce the sounds of Blue Neighborhood, Bloom and In a Dream into a singular, euphoric pop track.
Yeah, totally! It’s been really fun, I’m in the process right now, in the studio working on some stuff. As much as I have all of these ideas of things that I want to try, the cool thing is that I’m starting to have a little bit more confidence in who I am as a songwriter. So it is all of those experiences put together, you know? On every album or release, I’ve learned so much, and I’ve been kind of growing. Now, I feel excited to bring all of my experience together and sort of show my growth!
You also recently made a splash at the Met Gala when you wore that fabulous dress on the red carpet — to my knowledge, that was your first time wearing a dress at a high-profile event like that. What did that feel like in the moment?
You know, I think it’s weird, but had the pandemic not happened, I don’t think I would have a lot of the confidence I have now, that allows me to do something like that. I completely detached from the “industry” and all of that, so it felt like such far-off existence to me over in Australia. So it was like, “Why would I not have a good time with this? None of this is actually real.” It all just felt like a fantasy!
I knew that I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, so I worked really closely with my stylist Mel Ottenberg, who is just the greatest in the world and who I trust implicitly. We went through a bunch of silhouettes, and the dress was one idea. I just had this gut feeling that I wanted to do it — but it was scary, because I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel in the dress. I really, of course, didn’t want it to feel costume-y, or like I was just doing a thing for this one night. I wanted to make sure that it felt genuine.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel in the dress until I actually put it on. And it was a crazy experience, because I believed for a long time that of course clothes shouldn’t be gendered, and none of that should matter. And as soon as I put it on, I felt so much like … myself? Like I felt weirdly tough and feminine at the same time, and all of these things — and it was just such an empowering moment for me. It fully opened my world up, and I have no idea what I’m gonna wear next, but it’s blown out any barriers I put on myself.
I also loved getting to see you at the Met Gala spending some time with Lil Nas X, just two queer stars vibing. What was it like to get to spend some one-on-one time with him?
He’s so great. I’m pretty sure that was the first time we met! But, I really just think that he is… so unbelievably inspiring. For a really long time, I knew that it was okay to be gay, and to be openly gay, and like… it pushed things a little bit when I was first going and putting out music, where it was a little bit of a thing for me. But, I always subconsciously still had a lot of that part where it was like, “I can’t say that, I can’t do that, I can’t sing about that, it’s too much.” And I’ve been very very slowly becoming more comfortable with being really honest about everything.
Meanwhile, he has shown me, and everyone for that matter, that it is truly okay to take up space, and to be completely real, and upfront and unapologetic about who you are. He is really an inspiration, and has been breaking down so many barriers that are leaving so much more room — not just for him to keep going, but also for everyone else. I cannot wait to see what the music industry looks like in a post-Lil Nas X world — it’s so exciting. Yeah, hats off to him, times a million.
The end of the For All Creators project will see you doing a big live performance at Art Basel in Miami with the winner’s installation. I know you had your first live performance since the pandemic hit at the VMAs — do you feel like your approach to performing live has changed at all as a result of the pandemic?
Oh, definitely! I mean, I think in a lot of ways the pandemic made me feel stronger, but in a lot of ways, it also made me feel… weaker? I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but it really got out of hand in the pandemic. And I think, for me, it was just a very surreal moment, being on the stage again. First of all, it was truly like riding a bike — like, I got back up there, and immediately felt very comfortable, which was so nice to know. Because I really wasn’t sure: I was like, “I don’t know how I used to do this, am I going to get out there and freak out and run off the stage?”
So I surprised myself with how much I loved it. And then also, I got a little choked up, because it was so easy for me to feel like my life prior to 2020 was some sort of dream or fantasy that I’d had, and that it was now over. But when I got back on the stage and remembered that this is really happening to me, it was a lovely moment.
So you have For All Creators coming up, you have “Angel Baby” out, and you mentioned that you’re currently in the studio. Is there anything you can share about what you’ve got in the works?
Honestly, not really. [Laughs.] I’m kind of in the early stages of the process, but it’s cool because I’m also finally working on some other stuff that should be announced pretty soon. I’m having a really good time in general right now. Of course, music is always a huge priority for me, but there’s a lot of other exciting stuff happening for me right now. It’s gonna be a really fun couple of months, and I’m just so happy to be writing again. I’m so proud of the songs I do have so far. So keep an eye out, it’s gonna be a great few months!