For the last decade, Australian pop singer-songwriter Troye Sivan has been more than happy to make catchy earworms for a small-but-mighty fandom. But today, he cannot help but feel like something has shifted.


“I think I’m just used to putting stuff out to my very safe, immediate audience that I know have my back because they’ve been there for so long and everything,” he explains to Billboard over Zoom, sunning himself on his deck in Los Angeles. “This time feels very different for some reason.”

Sivan is referring specifically to “Rush,” his no-holds-barred summer anthem released on Thursday (July 13). On the sweltering song, the pop prodigy leans hard into impulse and excess, celebrating the joy of being on a dance floor and fostering an electrifying connection with someone, all laced over his most delectable dance-pop production to date.

The song is certainly a leap for the star — while 2018’s Bloom saw Sivan accept his position as a figurehead in pop music’s queer revolution, “Rush” sees the singer boldly embracing hedonism and sexuality in a way he’s never quite done before. “The feeling that you get listening to it — the kind of joy and the hope and the sex of it all — is definitely new,” he says.


But he points out that it isn’t just the song’s content that feels different — it’s the overwhelming response it’s already received. In the five days since the song dropped, “Rush” has already proven to be one of the biggest debuts of Sivan’s career. The song’s racy video has already racked up 3.5 million views. Gaining consistent traction on streamers, “Rush” rocketed up Spotify’s Daily Top Songs Global chart, peaking as the 23rd most-streamed song on the platform on Friday (July 14), marking Sivan’s highest-ranking solo entry on a Spotify chart.

Speaking to Billboard in the first 48 hours of the song’s release, Sivan says he’s settled somewhere between delight and concern at the song’s massive debut. “I know that I’m really super happy about it, and I also think I am a little bit intimidated,” he says with a nervous laugh. “It’s a good intimidation, because it just makes me think, ‘Damn, we’ve got to make a great video for the second single.’”

“Rush” comes at an auspicious time in Sivan’s career — after slowly gaining increased attention thanks to his unexpectedly viral 2021 single “Angel Baby,” Sivan made headlines more recently for his acting chops — first for his star turn in the indie coming-of-age film Three Months, and later for his supporting role in The Weeknd’s critically panned music industry sexploitation drama The Idol. (At the time of our interview, Sivan was unable to speak about his work on The Idol or Three Months due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike: “I am in total support of the strike and am holding strong with with everyone in waiting it out and making sure that that everyone gets treated fairly,” he said.)

According to Sivan, “Rush” came towards the end of creating his latest album Something to Give Each Other (out Oct. 13 via Capitol Records). Knowing that he wanted to have a “proper dance club song” on the album and wanting to “get out of my usual habits,” Sivan put out a call to his Instagram followers, seeking out work from new producers he could work with to make something that felt special.

Amongst the influx of tracks sent to him was one from producer Alex Chapman, in which the rising producer sang a chant over a scintillating club beat; “I feel the rush/ Addicted to your touch.” Instantly, Sivan was hooked. “I remember sitting up in bed and going, ‘OK wait, is it just me? Am I crazy, or is this really special?’” he says.

Immediately getting into a studio with producer Styalz Fuego and calling frequent collaborator Leland on FaceTime, Sivan spent an afternoon writing verses and a post-chorus around Chapman’s chant, until eventually they had the bones of what would become “Rush.”

It’s a fitting dichotomy for the star — while Chapman and Fuego serve as new collaborators to Sivan’s sphere, Leland provides a level of stability, formed over eight years of working together since the star’s 2015 debut album Blue Neighborhood. The pair’s relationship as frequent co-writers thrives, Sivan says, because they’re also best friends.

“We’re just together constantly and I think it just puts us on the same wavelength creatively,” he says. “He knows everything about me. I know everything about him. And when you’re doing something as intimate as songwriting, to have a partner like that is one of the biggest blessings. I just adore him.”

When it came time to put together a music video for the project, Sivan knew he wanted to continue his trend of delivering something different from his past works. Turning to his creative director Gordon von Steiner to direct the video, Sivan said that he wanted the video to feel as “real” as possible. Shooting in Berlin with a cast of dancers from the area, Sivan took a method approach to making sure the video’s vibe was correct. “We had a few days before we shot where we were just having the best time, going out partying and having all this fun,” he said. “By the time we got to the shoot for the video, the party vibe was just totally palpable.”

Part of what made the “Rush” video so new for Sivan is the fact that it centers around interweaving choreography, something the singer had never attempted in a video. “It was scary for me because I’ve never done it,” he says chuckling. “By the end of the shoot, I was obsessed, and I wanted to pick up a dancing class.”


While many fans praised the video for its unrestrained portrayal of queer ecstasy, many others pointed out that the video was lacking a diversity of body types. With a cast largely consisting of either rail-thin or muscular men, many fans began to criticize Sivan for only portraying one specifically-tailored, stereotypical portrayal of queerness in his video.

“I definitely hear the critique,” Sivan says, sighing. “To be honest, it just wasn’t a thought we had — we obviously weren’t saying, ‘We want to have one specific type of person in the video.’ We just made the video, and there wasn’t a ton of thought put behind that.”

What Sivan didn’t appreciate, though, were the critics who then decided to comment on his body amidst the discourse. “There was this article yesterday, and they were talking about [the lack of body diversity], and in the same sentence, this person said ‘Eat something, you stupid twinks,’” Sivan says. “That really bummed me out to read that — because I’ve had my own insecurities with my body image. I think that everyone’s body is as beautiful as it is, including my own, and it just sucks to see people talking about other people’s bodies.”

But Sivan has learned how to take the hits and move on to the next big career moment over the last decade of making content. “I just feel way, way more relaxed than the early days,” he says. “I’m not sure it that’s a result of me just chilling out as I’ve grown up or what, but I realized that my job should be really fun.”

With a hit song on his hands and the imminent release of his new album on the horizon, Sivan is doing everything he can to maintain that level of composure, come rain or shine. “I know that I love this song, and I know that that we had the best time making it, and I know how proud I am of it,” he says, beginning to beam. “But to actually be getting this kind of reaction just feels really nice. It’s a total pleasant surprise.”


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