IN BLOOM

Troye Si­van is just 23 years old and a Hol­ly­wood dream – young, beau­ti­ful and painfully cool. These qual­i­ties have al­ready taken him from YouTube star to in­ter­na­tional pop sen­sa­tion, but he’s only just start­ing to bloom, writes Danielle Gay. Pho­tographed

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Troye Si­van is list­ing the names of guests he dined along­side while at­tend­ing his very first Met Gala last May. “Frances McDor­mand, Anne Hath­away, Adut Akech and Pier­paolo from Valentino,” re­calls Si­van, a line-up that reads more like a bucket list of din­ner party guests than the peo­ple ac­com­pa­ny­ing a 23-year-old out on a Mon­day evening in New York. “The whole ex­pe­ri­ence felt like a dream,” he says. “I was re­ally, re­ally ner­vous, be­cause I hadn’t been be­fore and I didn’t know what to ex­pect.” Si­van showed up in an all-red cus­tom Valentino look, hav­ing been in­vited as a guest of the brand’s de­signer, Pier­paolo Pic­ci­oli. He’d just landed a ma­jor menswear cam­paign for the la­bel and with his slim build, plat­inum blond hair and pierc­ingly blue eyes, it’s no won­der he has be­come a de­signer’s muse. “These peo­ple that you kind of see as these ti­tans in the in­dus­try, sud­denly were just re­ally hu­man and we just all kind of had din­ner,” Si­van rem­i­nisces of that night. “It was so wild.”

While it might have felt wild to Si­van, for ob­servers, it’s not a shock to see him walk the most no­table red car­pet of the year. The South African­born star, who grew up in Perth but now re­sides in Los An­ge­les, has been slowly inch­ing to­ward fame for the bet­ter part of a decade. In 2007 – at the age of 12 – Si­van started a YouTube chan­nel us­ing his first and mid­dle name, Troye Si­van, drop­ping his sur­name Mel­let. He per­formed songs and spoke can­didly to the cam­era about ev­ery­thing from his school life to his sib­lings. He even came out on cam­era in a video posted in Au­gust 2013 (which now has al­most 10 mil­lion views). He was one of the early adopters of the plat­form and by 2013 he had one mil­lion sub­scribers – which, five years later, pales in com­par­i­son to the 6.5 mil­lion sub­scribers he has now, or even the 8.8 mil­lion peo­ple who fol­low his ev­ery move on In­sta­gram.

For con­text, out of those he dined with at the Met Gala, only Os­car Award-win­ning ac­tress Anne Hath­away comes close to the num­ber of fol­low­ers Si­van has on In­sta­gram – Hath­away has just over 12 mil­lion. In fact, Si­van is so used to con­nect­ing with the loyal fans he’s been ac­cru­ing since his early teens, it’s un­clear whether his cur­rent level of fame has caught up with him. Case in point: when he picks out the most mem­o­rable mo­ment of his night at the Met Gala. “I met Elon Musk! He was there with Grimes and Grimes and I tech­ni­cally have a song to­gether from way back. We were just chat­ting and she was like: ‘Oh, this is Elon’, and I’m like: ‘Hello!’” Does Si­van re­alise he has even more In­sta­gram fol­low­ers than Musk’s 8.4 mil­lion?

“I def­i­nitely pinch my­self,” Si­van re­in­forces of his ex­tra­or­di­nary new life. He looks ev­ery bit the pop star with his curly blond hair, nose ring, jeans and black leather jacket thrown over a printed sweater. When we meet, Si­van has been in back-to-back in­ter­views for two days since ar­riv­ing in Syd­ney from his LA home a week ear­lier. Still, he is calm and re­laxed. Like in his YouTube videos, he is qui­etly en­er­getic. He

con­tin­ues: “I pinch my­self very, very of­ten. I had my first lit­tle scan­dal,” he says, sound­ing gen­uinely con­cerned. “I had been given some flow­ers by a fan and I was fly­ing out that day and I didn’t know what to do with them and I threw them in the bin.” Un­for­tu­nately for Si­van, pa­parazzi snapped pho­tos of him throw­ing them out. It was head­line news on celebrity gos­sip web­sites less than three hours later. “I think if you know your­self and are ready to apol­o­gise for dumb mis­takes then it’s fine, you do your best,” he says of how he han­dled his first ma­jor me­dia con­tro­versy.

Truth be told, these days, go­ing from your bed­room to skyrocketing to the level of fame Si­van en­joys isn’t ex­actly a unique tale. But most blog­gers, or vlog­gers, stop there. Si­van’s own story could have stopped there. He could have re­turned to school and his small Jewish com­mu­nity, his life with his par­ents and three sib­lings. In­stead, Si­van went from we­b­cam to the sil­ver screen, au­di­tion­ing for and star­ring in X-Men and the Spud tril­ogy. Hav­ing se­cured a few mi­nor film roles he piv­oted again – in 2015 he re­leased his de­but al­bum Blue Neigh­bour­hood, with lead sin­gle Youth, win­ning an ARIA for Song of the Year. Now, hav­ing suc­cess­fully reached ver­i­fi­able pop-star sta­tus, he has just re­leased his sopho­more al­bum, Bloom.

“I think this one was re­ally fu­elled by just where I was in my life and where I am in my life. I feel like I’m in a re­ally good place,” Si­van says. “I went through this roller-coaster, crazy jour­ney, of just start­ing to travel a lot, and I toured, and I went through a break-up and I was away from my fam­ily. I was kind of find­ing my place in this new in­dus­try that I was get­ting into with the first al­bum. On the other side of that, I set­tled down fi­nally, I got a place in LA, I got into a re­la­tion­ship that I’m su­per­happy in and I was just re­ally happy. I wanted to cap­ture that and have it as a time cap­sule for when I’m 50. I can go back and lis­ten and be like: ‘Oh, that’s what that was like.’”

Now is a time in Si­van’s life that is go­ing to be hard to for­get. This year, Si­van has se­cured mag­a­zine cov­ers, been in­ter­viewed by mu­sic le­gend El­ton John, and ap­peared on Satur­day Night Live. In May, he per­formed his own song, My My My!, along­side Tay­lor Swift at her con­cert in front of 60,000 peo­ple: “That was a re­ally sur­real mo­ment be­cause I re­ally look up to her and ad­mire her as a song­writer and just as a per­son. That’s the kind of thing where it still doesn’t feel real.” A video he up­loaded to In­sta­gram of the per­for­mance has clocked up 3.5 mil­lion views and com­ments by every­one from Hailey Bald­win to Pier­paolo Pic­ci­oli ex­press­ing their ex­cite­ment for Si­van. (“Ready to walk a run­way!” Pic­ci­oli hinted.)

Not con­tent with adding Tay­lor Swift to his or­bit, Si­van’s new al­bum fea­tures a sen­sual, shape-shift­ing track with Ari­ana Grande called Dance to This. “We’ve been friends for a cou­ple of years now. I had this song that I knew I wanted a fe­male vocalist on but I wasn’t sure who the voice in my head was. But then all of a sud­den it hit me like a ton of bricks that it was writ­ten for her sub­con­sciously,” he says. Si­van sent the song to Grande, who loved it, and they started record­ing two days later. “She’s just a re­ally spe­cial girl and I love her to death,” he says.

At this junc­ture in his ca­reer, Si­van is still as com­mit­ted to his fans as he was when he launched his YouTube chan­nel back in 2007. His ac­counts – on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram – are per­sonal and up­dated al­most ev­ery day. On In­sta­gram Sto­ries, he still speaks di­rectly to the cam­era, sound­ing like he’s talk­ing to a friend, the way he did in the height of his YouTube days, and speak­ing to him now, he’s the same. He is full of su­perla­tives – ev­ery­thing is “su­per, su­per” fun or “re­ally, re­ally” good. But these state­ments don’t seem disin­gen­u­ous – you be­lieve him. Af­ter all, it is a re­ally, re­ally good time to be Troye Si­van. He seems to want to give back to the in­ter­net, the medium that made him. “I re­ally needed the in­ter­net when I was a kid. I didn’t know where else to look to find peo­ple like me. Any time I’m lonely or, you know, just need that sense of com­mu­nity, it’s the first place I turn. I’m also re­ally lucky to have the fans that I have. They’re just so sen­si­tive and smart and funny …”

How does he bal­ance this with hav­ing a pri­vate life? Si­van is cur­rently dat­ing model Ja­cob Bix­en­man and the pair have drawn the line with what they do and don’t al­low so­cial me­dia to see. “Gen­er­ally, we avoid post­ing on so­cial me­dia, but when we do it’s on our terms, which makes me feel com­pletely safe and com­fort­able,” he says.

Si­van also cred­its stay­ing grounded to his col­lec­tion of friends and fam­ily back in Perth. In July, it made head­lines when Si­van took to Twit­ter with a pic­ture of him­self and his Perth friends vis­it­ing in LA. “My besties since i was lit­er­ally 2 came to stay w me in LA and we went camp­ing,” he wrote on Twit­ter at the time. “As far as I’m con­cerned, they’re still my best friends. We get to hang out not as of­ten as I want to, be­cause they have real jobs that they need to stay in one city for,” he says with a laugh. “We make an ef­fort to keep in touch. I’m so lucky to have them. It’s the most re­as­sur­ing, com­fort­ing thing that I know that they’re there.”

Now, hav­ing re­cently turned 23, Si­van is go­ing back to act­ing, a move he said he al­ways knew he’d make when the right role came along. He stars along­side Nicole Kid­man and Rus­sell Crowe in the Joel Edger­ton-di­rected film Boy Erased, a movie about small-town par­ents who want to send their gay son to con­ver­sion ther­apy, which is out later this year.

Si­van says the role “hit him over the head”. “I was so moved by the script and then I found out the peo­ple who were work­ing on it, just such an in­cred­i­ble pool of tal­ent, that I wanted it so bad.” Si­van au­di­tioned and a few days later, while pre­par­ing for fur­ther au­di­tions, he took a video call from Edger­ton who told him he had the part. “I was sup­posed to do a sec­ond au­di­tion and at the end of the FaceTime he was like: ‘You know what, are you down?’ I was like: ‘Yes!’” While Si­van sounds happy with his per­for­mance, he said he did make one er­ror when it came to work­ing with Nicole Kid­man. “I made the mis­take of watch­ing Big Lit­tle Lies the night be­fore, so I was in­cred­i­bly star-struck,” he says, laugh­ing. “She is so good!”

While work­ing on the film was fun, for Si­van the project was a per­sonal one. “I’ve got close friends in the States who had ei­ther been through it or their par­ents had tried to send them off. For me, it was a very real is­sue and it was heavy. I came out on the other side re­ally driven to try to make a change and with a lot of em­pa­thy for every­one in­volved in that sit­u­a­tion,” he says. “I think the key thing in this sit­u­a­tion is ed­u­ca­tion and show­ing peo­ple that that is not the right way to han­dle your kid com­ing out.”

The film will surely pro­pel Si­van’s ca­reer in Hol­ly­wood and open him up to an even big­ger au­di­ence, although it seems as if grow­ing his au­di­ence is low on Si­van’s list of pri­or­i­ties. When this al­bum cy­cle set­tles down, he wants to start his own char­ity or foun­da­tion. In so many ways, it still feels like his ca­reer has just be­gun to bloom, but he is al­ready fo­cused on be­ing re­mem­bered for the right rea­sons. “I want to be mem­o­rable for stand­ing up for what I be­lieve in and mak­ing great art that sur­vives time,” he says.

It is this same ever-ex­pand­ing tra­jec­tory that earned Si­van a seat at the ta­ble at his de­but Met Gala that first Mon­day in May. “It’s been a jour­ney that I didn’t re­ally ex­pect to take, but now that I’m on it I’m so, so, glad,” he says of that night. The same could be said of his ca­reer. Bloom (EMI Aus­tralia) is out now; Boy Erased is in cin­e­mas from Novem­ber 8.

For me, it was a very real is­sue and it was heavy. I came out on the other side re­ally driven to try to make a change

Troye Si­van wears a Valentino jacket, $1,310, shirt,s $1,130, and jeans, $850. Dries Van Noten boots, $1,380. All prices ap­prox­i­mate; de­tails at Vogue.com.au/WTB.

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