Over the past couple of years X Factor Australia winner, Cyrus has showcased an impressive versatility as he experimented with different sounds to find who he truly is as an artist. Showcasing vulnerability, raw emotion and a funky ear for groovy beats he has taken you on an interesting journey through it all. However his new single ‘Blah’ is his most experimental track to date. The groovy alt-pop track steers away from the RNB sound he was manifesting earlier and steers towards a playful delivery with different synth and vocal styles and production structures. By doing this he has created something really fun and memorable. He reflects on social norms and the pressures we all face whilst trying to fit in and figure out who we are as people. He doesn’t hold back with his lyrical delivery, offering something a little sassy, direct and ultimately catchy. He steps out of his comfort zone and truly finds himself as an artist.
I recently chatted to Cyrus about the edgy exploration behind ‘Blah’, found out how he’s adjusted to the pressures of coming from a reality TV show and discussed the creation process of the colourful visualiser that accompanies the track. Check it out;
TB: Your new single ‘Blah” is by far your most experimental release to date. So what inspired this new and edgy musical exploration? Were you worried how people would react to it?
C: At the start of the year I found myself in a position where everyone else around me whether it was my friends or other people in the industry, had a lot to say about what I should be doing and what music I should be making and what goals I should be aspiring to. And it just became pretty overwhelming to be surrounded by a lot of chat and talk. So I went into a session when I was in the midst of all of that and it was with a friend of mine who is an electronic producer. So I said, “lets do something that is more musically in your world. Lets go as experimental and as hard as you want”. So he felt really comfortable creating this beat and then we gave it a little pop layering and it really worked out as it allowed me to open up a new creative flow. Before that I was so worried about experimenting and had so many thoughts about what sound I should be doing. So it was nice to try something different and it’s turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done.
In terms of being worried because it was such a dramatic shift, I was never really worried. I felt like first and foremost that I was more worried about people enjoying something that isn’t me rather than people not enjoying something that really is me. So I would say the “risk” really paid off.
TB: There has been quite a bit of time for you in-between releases. So how important was that time for you as an artist to really decide where you wanted this direction to go?
C: Yeah, I’ve grown to learn that you have to acknowledge the time it takes to make things happen and you have to respect that things don’t happen overnight. I think my last release before this single was about a year ago and from that release to this release so much has changed with how I approach my music, the way I think about my music and the message I want to convey in my music. And on top of all that, I have also grown a lot as a writer because I am in a more confident headspace which is really exciting.
TB: This song explores the social pressures of trying to fit in whilst trying to find out who we are as people. And You have quite a young fanbase. So what is some advice you have for people who are struggling with anxiety, coming to terms who they are, or just feeling confident in this confusing current state of the world?
C: I feel like where we are currently at in the world can be quiet a hard place for young people to be content in. Like, I feel for these teenagers who struggle with anxiety and depression and it can be so tough with this new age of social media as everyone is attached to the hip with their phones.
As much as you can tell people how to feel, what to do and how to put up with particular things, in the end it really comes down to having to experience it for yourself before you can truly understand the capacity or weight of the topic. A lot of people tell me to not get lost in the facades within the music industry and I’m like “yeah, yeah, whatever”. But until you do get lost in it you are like “shit, that happened” and you can process it for yourself. So my advice for young people is to not put pressure on yourself and don’t feel like you need to be anything .
I feel very passionately about the fact that it’s okay to not always feel happy because we are human and all have our down moments. But we need to experience the lows to appreciate the highs.
TB: On the back of that, do you feel like there is a big pressure particularly in the Australian music industry to constantly prove yourself as an artist because you did come from a reality TV show like X Factor?
C: I think regardless of where you come from, whether its a reality show or whether you busked on the street for 5 years, it’s important to embrace an artists growth. And that’s something really important to me because I understand that I don’t want to stay the same, I understand that my music IS going to change and it already has. Comparing ‘Blah’ to my previous material, there is an evident and obvious growth. And to be honest I think there is such a beauty behind a body of work which is not all the same. So who knows what I’m going to release next. I might do a mental-punk reggae *laughs*.
TB: Maybe even some reggae infused electronica *laughs*
C: *Laughs*, don’t cross it off the list!
TB: The accompanying visualiser is a vibrant, quirky and bright affair that looked like you had a lot of fun filming. So looking back on it now, what was one of your favourite memories from the set?
C: So that actually all happened on a set of a photoshoot! I was in this studio and we had three different coloured photo screens and we just dressed up in a bunch of cool clothes and got really silly. We had a videographer there who captured all the behind the scenes stuff that ended up becoming the visualiser material.
Reflecting on the character of ‘Blah’, it has a quirky side, it has a fun side, it has a serious side and we wanted to translate all of that visually. And there is this photo that I haven’t posted yet which is my favourite because I was against a green wall with a piece of smashed avocado on sourdough that I was having for lunch and we used it for a prop and we took a whole bunch of photos whilst eating it and it’s the dopest shit ever. So keep an eye on my Instagram for that soon, it’s pretty ridiculous *laughs*. It’s such a classic 2018 millennial moment.
TB: One of my favourite moments of the song is actually the candid outro where you are just jamming out in the studio. So how does a usual recording or writing session work for you? Where do you usually write?
C: Thank you! I think it all depends on who I’m writing with. The songwriting community is actually ridiculously huge so when I actually first dived into it I discovered that and wrote with a whole bunch of people. But I’ve come to learn that I like to write with the same people as you built a trust with them and you end up working on the same wave length spiritually. It often doesn’t feel too serious when you are comfortable and it becomes such a natural process.
Usually we start at 11am and have a coffee and chat about our ideas and then by 3pm we usually have a song done and cruise out. I love being able to work in a non high pressure environment and just allow it to come out naturally.
TB: And obviously when you leave the studio you head straight to a cafe to get some smashed avo?
C: 100%! *laughs* I feel like I didn’t need to say that to you because you just would’ve assumed anyways *laughs*.
TB: You are a proud songwriter and have co-written all your singles post winning X Factor. So what lyric would you say has been your most vulnerable moment as a songwriter?
C: In ‘Blah’ there is a line that says “Wear my heart on my sleeve cause I’m not scared of honesty” and I think that is something that speaks wonders for the person I’ve become. I’ve learnt being in an industry like this that there is no time to beat around the bush and for so long I found it so hard to have the confidence to speak up. I was so afraid to say how I felt regardless of who it was. So I think it took 3 years of experience to really find myself and to get that confidence.
TB: Now I must say, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ was a majorly underrated banger. But it also had a really reflective storyline about understanding negative issues that exist and placing yourself away from those circumstances. It’s a common thing that a lot of us get so caught up in. So how do you personally make sure you’re aware and present?
C: Thank you! I think always making sure regardless of the situation your in that you are aware of your surroundings is a very important thing. Like I’ve agreed to interviews and events in the past and haven’t educated myself in what I was doing so I found myself getting lost and everything around me would end up consuming me and taking over the situation which is scary. So I think not being afraid to admit when you don’t really know what is going on and sometimes to put your pride and ego aside and admit that you don’t know everything is super important. It’s a sensitive and fragile industry and I guess as an artist you are vulnerable a lot so sometimes you have to take care of yourself ahead of everyone else.
TB: Lets play a little game where you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind…
C: Oooooh, okay let’s do it!
TB: Most people think I…
C: Am funny, I hope *laughs*
TB: The emoji that best describes me is…
C: The bowl of noodles with chopsticks sitting on top!
TB: My morning pump up song is…
C: Oh, that new Golden Vessel track ‘BigBright’ for sure! It was actually released the same day as ‘Blah’ and I’ve been pumping it so much since it’s been released instead of my own song *laughs*
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
C: Not that bad *laughs* I’m an advocate. I don’t mind a little sweet and salty!
TB: If I had to listen to Miley Cyrus, Noah Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus all day, it would be…
C: It’s gotta be Billy Ray!
Cyrus’ new single ‘Blah’ is out now!