Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Priscilla Gardner, Priscilla – Troye Sivan’s Bloom
Growing up I don’t remember having any queer heroes, especially any queer musicians that I looked up to. Mostly because I was busy repressing anything that had to do with my gender or sexuality. I don’t think I wanted to relate to any queer artists/icons back then because I was too busy separating myself from the reality that I was gay. Coming off the high of last year that was dubbed “20GayTeen” (I’m pretty sure a term that was coined by Lesbian Jesus herself, Hayley Kiyoko) – it’s artists like Kiyoko, and Troye Sivan who are unapologetically who they are, and are creating amazing music: something that really didn’t exist for me when I was younger.
I remember being in late high school and going on private browsers to watch content from YouTube personalities/music artists who identified as LGBTQIA+ (because what if someone looked at the Google history?). I would hungrily drink in any representation on mainstream media that appeared on TV/film… slowly realising that I was so starved for representation and to see myself in other people, because I certainly didn’t have any queer friends (that I knew of – we were all busy hiding).
I remember watching Troye Sivan’s coming out video in 2013, and as being someone who followed him on YouTube already, this was monumental for me. It was absolutely wild to discover that people I already admired were like me, or accepted people that were like me. It helped me realise that I wasn’t alone, because that’s certainly how I felt. I think a lot of the time there’s this phenomenon where queer people feel drawn to one another, it’s this special connection that we share, and not something I really understood until after I’d been out for a little while. I remember watching Troye’s ‘Heaven’ music video in 2015 and just sobbing at his ode to the journey queer rights had made over time. His lyrics speaking directly to my Catholic childhood and fear of acceptance. “So if I’m losing a piece of me / Maybe I don’t want heaven?.”
Something that floored me, and inspired me, was to see his big success occur after coming out to the public. A lot of queer artists achieve mainstream success and later in life confirm their queerness, or perhaps don’t at all. We’ve seen it happen time and again in history where artists like Freddie Mercury are surrounded by turmoil for just being who they are or are forced to lead double lives to achieve success. Here, a boy from Perth was making music that was unapologetically queer. The release of Bloom last year is a shining example of this.
What I love about this album is what it represents. The music is not about how Troye Sivan is a queer artist. It is great music that doesn’t shy away from displaying the person that Sivan is, by simply being honest and real about the life of a queer person. It isn’t exploitative, but it is shamelessly queer.
Songs like ‘Bloom’ and ‘Seventeen’ describe unabashed, the navigation of sexual desire. I love the endless bops of ‘Dance to This’ and ‘My! My! My!’ for the euphoria they evoke whenever I listen. ‘Animal’ is my favourite song on the album. Whenever I listen to it I feel it envelop me in its romance, the ambient sound and the atmosphere that it creates is so different to anything on the rest of the album. Privately, I hope it could almost be a snapshot of what is to come from future music of his. I remember showing Luke this percussion moment at around 4 minutes and being so excited, it was hands down the grooviest thing I’d heard in a long while.
What really gets me about this album is that it’s so fragile and vulnerable, yet by feeling fully like a depiction of Troye Sivan as an artist, it’s a strong message of someone who is self assured in their identity. It depicts very common themes of love, sex, romance, but from a non heteronormative point of view, and in a way that feels so compelling and full of life. Troye Sivan’s music is a lot of things, it is fun, playful, moving and sexy but also, secondarily, it is queer and is relating deeply to a particular audience.
The production of this album definitely inspired Luke and myself. We love so many things about how this album has been produced. There are little parts that sound so Max Martin, a producer that has really inspired Luke and I over this past year. We would listen to this album for ages picking apart bits and pieces of the production, marvelling at all the little things that go into making good pop music. We learnt a lot from this, and as musicians who are kinda new to this pop music writing game, that’s all we wanna do, is learn from the best.
I feel blessed to be making music in a time where artists are no longer changing the pronouns in their love songs, or concealing them completely. I feel blessed to be working alongside Luke, who is the best ally and brother I could ever ask for. I feel excited that artists are getting the time of day no matter how they identify. It’s funny encountering people so often who are surprised when they hear about homophobia and transphobia still alive and well in our society, because “It’s 2019, surely we are passed all that by now? Everyone knows it’s fine.” But people in the community know that it is still not quite where it can and should be.
I could probably write love letters to Hayley Kiyoko’s ‘Expectations,’ and Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer,’ as they are artists who also inspire me. I think perhaps I feel this particular connection to Sivan’s music as his coming out had such an effect on me when I was in the throws of my own struggles. Plus he’s from sleepy Perth and now he’s a bloody pop star! How cool is that?
Troye Sivan and his music represent a certain perspective yes, and there are so many great artists with their own experiences and perspectives that deserve to be known and are definitely becoming known which is so incredibly exhilarating. I feel like we are reaching a time where those stories have become ready to be heard by the world. I thank Troye and I love Bloom for being a huge part of that.
Stream Priscilla’s latest single ‘Feeling Higher’ here. The band will launch the single this weekend in Perth, details below.
Priscilla ‘Feeling Higher’ Single Launch
Saturday, 9th March
Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth