The official artwork for singer-songwriter Troye Sivan’s latest single, “Take Yourself Home,” is a striking image. It’s a profile shot of the South African-born Australian artist donning a mussed-up wig in a blazing red hue that makes his piercing blue eyes pop. It also immediately reminds me of the Lady Bird poster – and I’m not the only one. “That was completely unintentional,” Sivan says laughing from his parents’ home in Melbourne. “I didn’t realize [the similarities] until someone tweeted at me. Then I was like, ‘Oh, shit.’ But I love that poster, so I’m not mad about it.”
Sivan’s aptly-titled new track – a melancholy dance bop – dropped earlier than planned. “We’re going rogue,” he wrote (in all caps) on Instagram a few weeks ago, alerting his fans, and label, to the news, fuelled by time in self-isolation. “I would like to release new music I just decided.” And so he did, alongside a call-to-action to collaborate with freelance artists in an effort to support them during the pandemic. The result is a line of T-shirts designed with Instagram artists, with all proceeds going to the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and Spotify’s COVID-19 Music Relief project. We caught up with the 24-year-old to chat about new music and how life in the time of coronavirus has changed the way he approaches his craft.
You live in L.A. now but made the decision to go back home to Australia and self-isolate with your family. Why did you want to do that?
I was in Atlanta filming a movie when everything started to get kind of crazy. I had thought I was going to stay there and just kind of wait it out, but everything was changing so much on a day-to-day basis. When there was talk of this [potentially] going on until July, August, I decided that if I was going to be self-isolating, I’d much rather do it in Australia with my healthcare system and my family. It just seemed much more comfortable for me and I’m really happy that I did it. The question now is when I’m going to be able to go back to America.
How has being in that familiar and supportive environment influenced you creatively during this moment in time?
This is really putting into perspective how lucky I am. My isolation is literally just me in my parent’s home, with my mum knocking on the door asking if I want breakfast. It’s relaxing and nice and I’m just super lucky. I’ve sort of reverted back to basics in such a refreshing way. I was here for, like, two days and all of a sudden I was making music on my laptop, editing videos, photoshopping stuff. I feel so thankful to have that creative spirit to get me through that time. It’s been very rejuvenating. Underneath all of the craziness that’s become my life over the last couple of years, I still the desire to just create. It’s been nice to be reminded of that.
What was behind your decision to release “Take Yourself Home” earlier than planned?
I’ve had this song done for a few months now. Once I got home to Australia, it took on a whole different meaning. Originally, it was about me reassessing and re-evaluating my life as a whole and, like, having these tough conversations with myself. And, suddenly, it feels like the whole world is being forced to do that. Am I happy at my job? What’s important to me? In the event of a global pandemic, people have had to take stock a little bit, and so [the song] felt relevant, and maybe something that would be comforting for people to hear. On top of that, I got really upset about all of the creatives who are out of work – my band and my crew, all of these incredible graphic designers. I was thinking about how can I employ these people through this time? That’s been kind of the goal of the whole project, to work with as many people as possible and pay them.
Do you think this experience will change the way you release music moving forward?
I don’t know if I’ll ever release music in the same way again. Visually, this has been the most collaborative, the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever released. I think this is also the most I’ve ever communicated with the people who are listening to my music. I really feel like a part of something, that’s been beautiful. One thing I’ve realized is that I like being in the room with people when I’m making music. Visuals are different, I can do that from afar. But this experience has made me really appreciate how lucky I am to be in the room with the people that I admire. In terms of release, I can do it from anywhere. Good luck to my management and label trying to keep me in L.A. all the time. I think I’m going to be spending a lot more time in Australia because I love it here and I think that I can.
Does that mean fans can expect more new music soon?
There’s definitely going to be more music. And, honestly, because of the way I’m doing this, it could come at any moment. I’m just vibing, seeing what feels inspiring to me and what feels appropriate and figuring out what I can do to keep people working. I’m going to keep going with the flow and enjoying the process. So music could come out tomorrow or it could come out in a month. We will see.
You got your start years ago on YouTube. Do you miss creating content like that?
I don’t miss making YouTube videos necessarily, but I do miss being able to spend more time online. I spent so much time on the internet as a teen and as life got crazy, I pulled away. It’s important to live IRL, but I think there are a lot of really beautiful things and relationships happening online. It’s been really fun to be spending time online again while self-isolating.
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