Pop star Troye Sivan got cast in a small role in the conversion therapy drama “Boy Erased” before the subject of writing an original song ever came up. The idea of Sivan doing double duty was on both his and director Joel Edgerton’s mind, though, even though they both initially proceeded as if the role were the only thing. “I read the script and knew that I wanted to be a part of the movie in any way that I possibly could. Acting is something that feels really intimidating and new to me, still, and I know my way around music a little bit better, so for personal reasons, I wanted to just use it as a way to communicate my feelings on some pretty universal themes for LGBT people.”
Hence: “Revelation,” a song that sets the backdrop for a key sequence in the movie, in which Lucas Hedges’ character really is sensing some things being revealed for the first time, from on high or otherwise.
Sivan wrote several unsolicited original songs that didn’t make it into the movie, but then Edgerton put in a request for Sivan to tackle a specific scene. “Jonsi from Sigur Ros was working on some music for one scene where he had started this little piano melody, but he didn’t really know where to go lyrically or melodically,” says Sivan. “So that’s when Joel, Jonsi and I went for breakfast one morning and they talked to me about that specific scene, and I ended up writing the song later that day.”
It wasn’t any random scene, but practically the only one in the movie where Lucas Hedge’s character experiences any positivity related to his emerging gay identity. “It’s a moment of firsts for Jared — the first time that he gets to experience any real, tender, sweet emotion with another boy. And I remember reading the script and feeling so relieved and happy for him. and the moment afterwards where nothing terrible happens and God doesn’t strike him down.” Sivan wrote religious imagery into the lyrics beyond the title. “The song is about that moment where he starts to ponder if this is actually okay, and if maybe that’s the way things are supposed to be.”
It’s not a very poppy song. You do get that with another, pre-existing Sivan song, “Good Side,” from his latest album, which Edgerton used to score an introductory scene that features real video footage of Hedges as a boy, provided by the actor’s family. But Sivan was happy to keep it moody for “Revelation.”
“I think one of the reasons I’ve always wanted to write for film is it just like opens up the world so much as a songwriter,” Sivan says. “There’s no real structure or sound that you have to stick to when it’s not your record. I was deep in writing and promoting my album, where I really was trying to kind of find a specific, cohesive sound, and for a second I got to take a break and get creative and write what felt best for the movie.” And what felt best for a deeply conflicted LGBT character he thought deserved a departure from his status quo, too.