Scrapbook: Troye Sivan Pillages His Old Photos for #tbt Gold
The 22-year-old Aussie star discusses his evolving relationship with fashion, his coming out video, and more in this extensive #tbt.
Troye Sivan leans in close to examine the email I've pulled up on my greasy iPhone. "My mom just sent through a bunch of stuff," the 22-year-old doe-eyed singer from Australia via the internet shrugs, surveying the haul of photos and videos in a sunny conference room in Manhattan on a recent afternoon. "To be honest, I'm sure there are probably plenty that I'd rather she didn't send but I had no say in the matter so I guess I'll see what you've got!"
Mom did well: There are innocent images from his childhood in Perth ("Here I am being a cute little Jewish boy"), a photo of him cheesing with Ruby Rose and Taylor Swift ("It's iconic!"), and is "Blue Neighborhood Trilogy" video. Sivan gamely parsed them in the same thoughtful manner with which he approaches his video confessions—most famously: an August 2013 upload in which he comes out to the world that has since been viewed more than seven million times—and the swoony pop that comprises his two major label EPs, TRXYE (2014) and WILD (2015). He takes a pause only once, shaken by the sight of the mop of hair and black hoodie he wears in that "coming out" video. "Darker times, much darker times," he laughs.
Sporting a closer crop, a pair of Fenty Puma by Rihanna creeper dupes, hiked-up New Balance socks, hand-hemmed black jeans and a vintage Josh Groban tee ("When I was a young singer I was like, he is the shit"), he looks like a new person. "Fashion is something that only very recently have I felt comfortable exploring and feeling comfortable with," he explains today.
He's still baby face cute, but with armies of fans, famous friends, award shows to attend, and a big fall tour in the works, that little Jewish boy has grown up. Below is this week's Scrapbook #tbt.
Here I am being a cute little Jewish boy at a Passover Seder when I was probably three or four. You can see the Seder plates in the background. I grew up in a Conservative Orthodox Jewish community—not necessarily a very religious one, but a very traditional one—in Perth. A fairly small community, 8000 people, and very, very tight knit. I went to a Jewish school of 200 kids, so there were 30 kids in each grade, all the way from kindergarten to year 12. I went there until I was year nine, around 14 years old, and then I started being home schooled. All of my friends and everything are all still from that school.
I still go home for the high holidays. My family is very traditional, I grew up doing Friday night Shabbat dinners with my family and then the High Holidays, and those are things that I really, really value. To be completely honest, I could do without saying the prayers and whatever, but getting the family together and not turning on our phones for a Friday night, connecting, is something I really cherish.
This was my school photo, but my mom has cropped everyone out except for my best, best, best friend Kayla and me. We met when we were two and became friends almost immediately. We were actually girlfriend and boyfriend at that point. The first memory I have of her was, there was a little tunnel at school and we would kiss in the tunnel or play kiss-chasey, like, chase each other with kisses. I also remember prank calling the police at a very young age—we would say "hello stupid police!" and that was it, we'd just hang up. That's probably the craziest thing I've ever done in my life. Kayla is still my best friend to this day—next year will be our 20th year of friendship, and I adore and cherish her so much and I speak to her almost every day.
I was probably maybe five or six at this point, my mum would have dressed me at that age. And to be honest, I became really scared to dress fashionably because I thought people would think I was gay. I used to just kind of dress down all the time, and I was just too scared to admit that I would like to kind of dress better or care about the way that I dressed because of a stupid stereotypes that were in my head. I spent a lot of my childhood thinking, "I could never pull that off," whereas now that's a mindset I'm vehemently against. If you want to wear something and you wear it with confidence, than anyone can kind of pull anything off.
This is from my first tour, and I'm really proud when I see this photo. My first ever show was in Seattle, I believe, and I was so, so petrified. To be honest, I don't remember any of it, it was a complete blur. I couldn't believe what was going on the first time. It was probably for only four hundred people and I was more nervous than I'd ever been in my whole life. The single most comforting thing: when I walked out and went to sing the first line of the first song and couldn't hear myself over the crowd. I was petrified, like, "Shit, I can't hear myself." But I was also like, "Oh my God, I can't hear myself because there is a crowd looking back at me, this is unreal." I kind of relaxed. [Performing live is] something I hadn't even done a year ago—I played my first show probably just under a year ago now—and was just petrified of it, and now it's something that I do a couple of times a week. It's been a very big learning curve this past year.
That was the first time that I'd met Taylor Swift, and that's Ruby Rose. We were back stage at the GLAAD Awards. Taylor had just presented Ruby with an award and I was hanging backstage. I know Ruby from Australia, but I met Taylor for the first time that night and the three of us had this photo. In the first version of the photo Taylor was kissing me on the cheek but Ruby was not, so we looked at the photo and Ruby was like, "No, let me kiss you again." Then we looked at the photo like, "Sweet, it's iconic." Taylor had been a big supporter of my music and everything, she tweeted about Wild, the EP. I have no idea how she found it still—it was a complete shock to me. We had worked with a couple of the same people and had some mutual friends, but had never met. I really admire her as someone who writes her own music and just as a general pop mastermind. She was even lovelier [than I expected her to be], really pleasant and so beautiful as well.
That's Broods and me. [Check out Broods' Scrapbook here.] Broods are on my album, we wrote a song called "Ease" that day. We had a photo at the end of the day and I'm a big fan of them, so this is a photo of me as a fan, but also as someone who just wrote a song with them that day.
That shirt [I'm wearing] says "Jafiel" a local Australian brand. They sent my brother a bunch of stuff and we still hand-me-down stuff so I stole it from him, I think. I am one of four kids so we would all be sharing clothes all the time, and we still share clothes all the time. I have a backpack that was given to me as a gift, a really nice Saint Laurent backpack, but I didn't use it because it didn't have a laptop protector and my other backpack did. So instead of going out and buying a $20 laptop protector, I put the bag in the cupboard and left it. I got home from a trip and my little brother was taking my YSL backpack to school as a school bag. And so I snatched it back from him, took out all his stuff, and now I've bought a laptop bag and use it all the time. But I have to be down to share because I still steal stuff from them all the time.
That's Betty Who and me, when she was opening for Katy Perry in Perth. I went to go see the show and Betty and I had been friends for a while and met up to go backstage afterwards. It was really fun. I got to take all my friends that night. A lot happens in Perth, but as far as entertainment-wise, the perks of my job or whatever often aren't felt back home—I can't get my friends into any cool parties or anything like that. So when a show comes, for me to be able to get them tickets, I felt very cool that night.
Darker times, much darker times. Oh God, my hair is a mess. I used to coif my hair and it was fine for when I was 14, but not anymore. Fashion is something that only very recently have I felt comfortable exploring and feeling comfortable with. Before, fashion was something that was scary to me; and it's still something that I'm learning about and exploring everyday, and I'm just having so much more fun with it. I think my life became so much more fun the second I realized you really are the only person who can define yourself and the only person who can define what you can and cannot wear. Who's to say you can't wear that or can't pull that off. Once I realized that, I started having so much more fun. I recommend to everyone that they free themselves from worrying about how they dress.
[This video] was a really big moment for me personally, because it was my way of coming out to a lot of people who I hadn't come out to in my life. I had come out to my family and my very close friends and that was it, so this was me killing a million birds with one stone and coming out to the rest of the world. For me, it was just the most freeing thing. There has not been a single second of regret since I did it. I'm just so much happier than before I was out, so it was definitely for me. But then I did feel like I owed a lot specifically to the YouTube community and that part of the YouTube community, so I also saw it as an opportunity to help people and be for people what other people were for me when I was in my time of need.
[Announcing my first EP TRXYE] was a big moment to me as well. I already had this big YouTube audience but I hadn't told anyone that I was signed, and I had been working on music secretly for a year when I told everyone that I was coming out with an EP. I remember being absolutely floored by the reaction, everyone was super, super excited and very positive about it.
It was scary for maybe the first five seconds, but then I just saw love and support and it kind of calmed me down immediately. People can definitely be nasty online and that's not a good thing, and it's something I'm a little bit scared of. But I'm lucky: in general I have very nice fans. I think I know where my lines are. I think about everything I say, ever, online. And as well, I just know what I like to keep to myself and what I like to be public about. That's kind of the only real defense mechanism I have.
It's a trilogy of music videos with one narrative that flows throughout that discusses coming out and LGBT love and ultimately LGBT suicide, which is an issue that I think needs to be spoken about. At the end of the day I wanted to show young, queer love in the same light that hetero love is shown. And just kind of innocence and sweetness and just how violently that can be torn apart by a non-excepting environment. Kind of show people the power they have—when you know a queer person, whether you accept them or not can be very, very impactful in that person's life. I wanted to make sure that people were aware of that. You see a little boy and a little girl holding hands on the street and you're like, "Cute, are you guys going to get married?" You never hear that with two young boys or two young girls, and I just wanted to show everybody that love is love and love is pure and sweet and it shouldn't be tarnished.