Music

We Asked Troye Sivan To Interview Two Mardi Gras ’78ers About LGBTIQ Activism

"It's because of people like you that people like me can even exist and be in this room right now."

Troye Sivan

Bloom, Troye Sivan’s sophomore album, is a queer declaration of sexual and artistic confidence — a still blossoming sound in pop, though Sivan’s pushing it into a stadium setting.

In January, Sivan dropped ‘My My My!’, a song Isabella Trimboli described in Music Junkee’s best songs of 2018 (so far) as a “joyful, horny euphoria”, a sensual three-minutes where Sivan loses himself to synths and the joy of lust. Much like Janelle Monáe’s ‘Make Me Feel’, it’s an embrace of same-sex eroticism: suitably, in its music video, we see Sivan strut and saunter, owning his sexuality.

Which, for all the LGBTIQ progress of the past few years, still feels rare. Queerness is usually depicted in opposition — forged in the fires of oppression, pride defined against structures that enforce shame. Which remains vital for as long as there is discrimination, of course. But it is freeing to hear something queer which is defined by joy, defiant in its exuberance.

“Ultimately, it’s a love album,” Sivan told EW recently. “Almost all the songs are these really passionate, longing love songs, and I had a really good time writing about that because, before this album, I didn’t know what me writing happy music even sounded like.”

Bloom is an embrace of queerness without shackles: it turns what is defined as disgusting by some and proves its beauty not by argument, but by expression. Its namesake single is a ‘bop about bottoming‘, after all — something still restricted to the realm of the carnal, rather than the tenderness Sivan paints it with.

Written with long-term collaborators Leland, Allie X and Bram Inscore, then produced by heavyweights Ariel Rechsthaid and Max Martin, Bloom merges the intimacy of 2015 debut Blue Neighbourhood with stadium-ready pop.

If Blue Neighbourhood was a maelstrom of suburban longing and teenage frustrations — where everything is life-or-death, and relationships turn into a cinematic mini-series — then Bloom comes from a place of excited self-assurance. As the album weaves through domestic comfort (‘Dance To This’), and devotion (‘Animal’, ‘What A Heavenly Way To Die’), Sivan revels in the joy of being utterly whipped, of a love which opens you up.

He’s not alone, either: in 2018 alone, LGBTIQ pop acts like Ryan Beatty, Janelle Monáe, Years And Years, Hayley Kiyoko, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su and Rina Sawayama (for starters) are serving up celebratory and sensual releases.

Of course, covertness was once the language of queer love: it’s worth remembering that this openness is only possible due to the thousands of LGBTIQ activists that have come before.

Suitably, ahead of Bloom‘s release, Sivan sat down for Music Junkee to have a chat with ’78ers Diane Minnis and Karl Zlotkowski, who were part of Australia’s first Mardi Gras forty years ago.

The trio talked about the importance of knowing our history, and what young LGBTIQ Australians can take from our queer pioneers. Throughout, Sivan takes a back seat to listen to their stories, and we hope you do the same.

Bloom is out 31 August via EMI.

Jared Richards is a staff writer for Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.