How Janet Jackson, “Lost in Translation, ”and Melbourne nights inspired Troye Sivan's new album

How Janet Jackson, “Lost in Translation, ”and Melbourne nights inspired Troye Sivan's new album

Musical Moodboard is a recurring EW feature in which musicians share the inspirations behind their new album.

Connected. That's how Troye Sivan hopes you'll feel when you reach the final track of his upcoming third LP, Something to Give Each Other. The 28-year-old Australian singer, songwriter, and actor has checked the sober tone of his previous albums at the door — now he just wants to party. "There's a couple of lyrics on this album that actually make me laugh," Sivan tells EW. "I think we were just having such a good time when we made it that you can really feel that."

Sivan started out making videos of himself on YouTube a decade ago before releasing 2015's moody Blue Neighbourhood and 2018's bittersweet Bloom, and eventually starring alongside Nicole Kidman in the film Boy Erased and Lily-Rose Depp in this year's divisive Max series The Idol.

Collage of Troye Sivan
Collage of Troye Sivan

Alex Sandoval - Source: Stuart Winecoff / Virgin Records / Adobe Stock / Focus Features Troye Sivan unpacks the inspirations behind his album 'Something to Give Each Other'

Through his music, he has documented his experiences with heartbreak in painstaking detail, but his new record is about fresh starts. He describes the motivation behind it like flicking a switch; it captures when being single goes from somber to sexy. "When you're going through a breakup or a tough time there's this moment where you realize that in this sorrow, there's also possibility and hope," Sivan says. "There's all this possibility of, 'Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? Who are you going to meet?' I love sharing that with people, having just been through it."

His quest of self-discovery included a journey to Bangkok, for the video for "Got Me Started," his latest song. "It's awesome. I think it's maybe the most proud I've ever been of a music video," Sivan says. Hedonism, too, was part of the ride, as evidenced by the sticky, sultry, choreography-filled bacchanalia in the video "Rush," Something to Give Each Other's pulsing lead single. "'Rush' is sort of this turbo party, and then 'Got Me Started' was always a bit more like when you're feeling yourself and moving solo through the world and encountering all of these people along the way."

Sivan chatted with EW about the various inspirations behind Something to Give Each Other, from Janet to Lost in Translation to his dive into nightlife.

Damita Jo and Sugar World

Damita Jo by Janet Jackson on the left and Sugar World by jonatan leandoer96
Damita Jo by Janet Jackson on the left and Sugar World by jonatan leandoer96

'Damita Jo' by Janet Jackson and 'Sugar World' by Jonatan Leandoer96

"Janet Jackson's Damita Jo — that album for me just hit such a sweet spot, with this warmth that I love in pop music. It's almost super sweet — there's something borderline bubblegum about the melodies — but then the taste level is so high. It's also totally infused with sex and R&B."

"Then there's that album Sugar World by Jonatan Leandoer96 — Yung Lean's side project. It has these interesting moments with that same kind of warmth, but it sounds completely different from Janet. It was more the feeling of it than specific sonics. I knew my album had to at least have moments of that sort of sweet joy."

Lost in Translation and Before Sunrise

"The movie Lost in Translation was visually inspiring to me, and thematically, Before Sunrise was. The idea of two people coming together for a very brief moment and having this deep connection that is going to expire, and the fact that that's sort of okay — that was really inspiring to me."

Global pop music

"I'm obsessed with the idea of global pop, and I wanted this album to feel very global. I was so inspired by traveling, and I had a really amazing summer this year bopping around Europe, and I spent so much time in Asia in 2019. We went to Berlin to make the "Rush" video. We went to Bangkok to make the "Got Me Started" video. I wanted to reflect the idea that pop music really, really can bring people together."

Nights out in Oz

"I was really inspired by partying on this album, more so than ever. Definitely nights out on Smith Street in Melbourne. A lot of the album took place there, inspirationally, and then also while I was traveling. The thing I'm really looking for when I go out is that tipping point where all of a sudden your self-awareness totally disappears and your body becomes loose and you sink into the music and you sink into the night and you're just with your friends. It's not intoxication-related. I've had that moment sober, where it's just something about the euphoria of the moment."

Craig Hundley Plays With the Big Boys

Craig Hundley's album cover on the left and Troye Sivan's album cover on the right
Craig Hundley's album cover on the left and Troye Sivan's album cover on the right

The cover of the Craig Hundley Trio album 'Craig Hundley Plays With the Big Boys'; the cover for Troye Sivan's 'Something to Give Each Other'

"I was in a record store and I picked up this album called Craig Hundley Plays With the Big Boys, where the guy is smiling super, super big on the cover. There was something so sweet and genuine about his smile that I felt very connected to him just looking at it. In the end, my album cover doesn't look anything like that, but it put the idea in my head. I was like, ''Damn, it would be kind of badass to smile really big on the album.'"


Rush music video
Rush music video

youtube Troye Sivan enjoys a quick chug with his costars in the 'Rush' video

"When I'm in Australia, I drink a lot of beer. The album was so warm to me temperature-wise, and that's my go-to drink when it's hot and sweaty. All I want is an ice-cold beer."

Something to Give Each Other is out Oct. 13.

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