A model for the modern music business, Troye Sivan is a digital celebrity who engages his fans without pretense. The young vocalist is not just humble and sincere—he’s pretty funny, too. He was born Troye Sivan Mellet in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his family moved to Perth, Western Australia, when he was two. In 2007, when he was 12, he posted his first video to YouTube — an a-capella rendition of “Tell Me Why” by British singer Declan Galbraith.
“That was mind-blowing to me when I realized I could reach more people [on YouTube] than I could in real life,” says Sivan, who turned 21 earlier this month.
He used YouTube “really casually for a couple years,” before he began vlogging and introducing himself to people who were commenting on his videos. “It was that sense of community for the first time,” he recalls.
Lately, Sivan — who announced on YouTube in 2013 that he is gay — has used his video channel to promote issues he’s passionate about, including safe sex and LGBT issues. “What I like best is having a platform to say what I want to say, and hopefully making a change in people’s lives,” he says. One of his recent music videos features a baseball cap emblazoned with “Make America Gay Again,” lampooning Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.
Now, having landed record contracts with Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records in the U.S. and EMI Music Australia, Sivan has topped 4 million YouTube followers (plus 4 million on Twitter and 4.5 million on Instagram).
He’s currently on world tour promoting his debut album, “Blue Neighbourhood,” released last December. “The hardest part is the inconsistency of the lifestyle, but I’m 21 and enjoying it,” Sivan says. “I walk through the world and have no complaints.”
The Guardian described Sivan’s musical style as “layered electropop with constant tinges of EDM.” “It’s pop music, but I try to keep it interesting,” he says. Regarding creative influences, Sivan says the person who really changed everything for him was Amy Winehouse. “She wasn’t doing music for anyone else but herself—she was writing it therapeutically.” Other favorite artists include Frank Ocean, Lorde, and Kanye West.
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The multi-hyphenate’s acting career has included playing the younger version of Hugh Jackman’s titular character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
Sivan says he’s a fairly private person. “I do cherish my privacy and my family and stuff like that — I appreciate those things offline.”