Troye Sivan’s Latest Single ‘Easy’ Is A Taste Of His Synthy New Sound

Troye Sivan is back with his second single of the year, “Easy,” which dropped on Wednesday (July 15). Seemingly taking cues from ’80s pop groups like Bronski Beat, the new track from the Australian singer-songwriter is a synth-heavy slow-burn about struggling in love.

“I’m still in love and I say that because / I know how it seems between you and me,” he declares on the opening verse. “It hasn’t been easy darlin’.” In an announcement prior to the song’s release, on Monday (July 13), Sivan shared a series of Instagram posts noting that he was “very, very scared to” put such personal work out into the world.

The single is also a taste of Sivan’s latest take on the signature synth-pop sound he’s been constructing for years. It dropped along with the announcement of his forthcoming “concept EP,” In a Dream, which is slated for release on August 21 via Capitol Records. Produced by Oscar Görres (Tove Loe, the Weekend), the collection, his first since 2018’s Bloom, will also include the brooding “Take Yourself Home,” which released in April.

“A story that’s still unfolding, this small collection of songs explores an emotional rollercoaster period in my life when the feelings and thoughts were most shockingly fresh,” he said in a statement, describing the EP. “Revisiting these songs and moments is tough, but I’m proud of this music and excited to have it out in the world.”

De’Wayne Is Feeling Mad Beautiful For This Interview

De’Wayne is beaming as he calls from North Hollywood on a recent Tuesday. “I’m an excited-ass homie,” he tells MTV News. “I’m making music and I’m talking to you and people are actually starting to listen.” Despite 2020’s ever-darkening cloud of gloom, the 25-year-old artist has plenty to be excited about. Shortly after he finished a European tour with pop trio Waterparks earlier this year, the entire world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, and De’Wayne went from bouncy club shows to homebound days. But he also received some unexpected good news.

Simultaneously, De’Wayne — whose alternative music veers from the “Black Skinhead”-style rumble of new single “National Anthem” to palm-muted power chords and industrial elements — got signed to California indie label Hopeless Records, the current home of pop-punk stalwarts like Taking Back Sunday, Sum 41, and New Found Glory. “My life went from, like, not being able to afford food and not thinking I wanted to record an album [to] … I was like, oh, it’s time to go now,” he says. “But then the world came to a full stop. But then I was able to make a record, so it’s been kind of fucking insane, bro.”

Over the phone, De’Wayne carries the palpable energy of both “National Anthem” (with its lyrical nod to The 1975) and his equally eclectic sartorial style, which overflows with feathery jackets and uncanny echoes of Jimi Hendrix. He celebrates every part of his journey so far, leaving Texas for Los Angeles, and working two jobs to support himself as he honed his sound and figured out his vision.

“I understood that I didn’t rap about cars, I didn’t rap about money, I didn’t rap about women, so I wasn’t going to be this artist in Houston at the time. I always just kind of had this alternative upbringing,” he says. Below, he details his musical beginnings, the evolution of his own sound and his fanbase (which he dubbed the Circle), and his aspirations of becoming an “underground art-rock star.”

MTV News: I imagine that’s got to be a weird mix of emotions, to finish strong on tour and to get signed, but then also to realize things are coming to a standstill elsewhere in the world because of COVID-19 and mass protests for racial justice.

De’Wayne: Oh literally, bro. I’ve been Black for 24 years. I’ve been trying to have these conversations with people. That’s the thing that was so beautiful about performing “National Anthem” on tour. My fans don’t look like me at this moment. You know what I’m saying? It’s like young, white women from, like, 12 to 30, and I’m making them question their privilege and have these conversations and want to be like, “I need to talk to my parents about this stuff.” People really want to see change. I hope we just keep this up. So that’s been even heavier than the pandemic, to be all the way honest with you. But working through both, man, yeah.

MTV News: When you released “National Anthem,” you said you were originally not going to put it out when you did. But then you obviously bumped it up. Can you explain why?

De’Wayne: Just, I guess, the understanding that, “Let’s have the conversation now like we were having it on tour. Let’s put out a song.” Also just to be like, all right, I’m a Black man in alternative music. I wanted to let people know, if they didn’t know, this is my flag in the ground for us. This is where I stand with this shit. If you’re not with it, totally fine. But if you’re about it and you’re about being an ally and you’re about supporting this, you need to get down with this now. It felt more urgent. I kind of feel like my whole project right now kind of feels urgent.

MTV News: You mentioned being a Black artist in an alternative space. We’re about the same age, and not to ask you about stuff that happened so long ago, but I do feel like in the alternative space 25 years ago—

De’Wayne: No, let’s talk about it, please.

MTV News: Like 25 years ago, that was a very white space, and it continues to be a white space, although now more Black artists are either more visible in the alternative space or they have taken alternative elements and really mixed them into genres that wouldn’t necessarily be considered alternative. I was curious about your perspective on that. Did you look to anybody in particular as you were figuring out your path?

De’Wayne: Bro, the thing about it being in the past, how you were saying 25 years, you could go back further, of course. Those people were looked at like aliens. It was like, yo, this is not your thing. You can’t even do this. We can’t even fathom you being this thing because we have you in this small-ass box, right? My parents were very gospel and religious. My stepdad was a preacher and my dad would even preach sometimes, but the next day he would be, like, smoking weed and fuckin’ with girls. You know what I’m saying? So I had this alternative bringing up. When I came to L.A., I felt like I could just expand myself. It was where I truly grew up.

It was one of those moments where you’re in your small studio apartment and [Nirvana’s] Nevermind was a recommendation. I had never heard it. I’m not ashamed to say that. I had never really sat with rock music until I came to L.A. But, man, once I heard that shit, I was like this, I don’t know if I want to do this, but my energy — I’m just as rock and roll, whatever the fuck that means, as any of these kids. That was just my energy. But when I heard it, man, I was like, oh yeah, this is what I want to do. Once I heard that sound and that angst, it just connected with me way more than a song that my parents showed me or something I heard at church or something I had experienced back home.

MTV News: You quote The 1975’s “Love It If We Made It” on “National Anthem,” singing, “Hate that melanin but love selling it / Even Matt Healy let y’all know.” Do you know if Matty has heard the song?

De’Wayne: Yo, Patrick, I gotta tell you, one of my friends asked me that. I get embarrassed about that because, you know what I’m saying? I gotta say no, but then I gotta say I hope he does eventually. He inspires me just as much as anyone who I’ve ever known in my life. They’re called a rock band because they look the part. But are they really a rock band? Like what do they even do? I think that shit is gorgeous, man. So I hope he hears it one day. I think, man, he wears dresses; I’m all about dresses, man. He wears makeup and glitter; I got dressed up in glitter right now. I’m feeling mad beautiful for this interview. So he inspires me, man. Shout out to that guy.

MTV News: Your Instagram page is full of incredible looks. I mean, you’ve got these jackets, man. What are your style inspirations?

De’Wayne: I just love to feel beautiful. You know what I’m saying? I love to feel sexy. Sometimes the less clothes for me, the better. Just whatever makes me feel good. Like if I put it on and I feel hot, I’m just like, yep, this is it. That can be a dress sometimes, or that can be an army-looking jacket or some weird pants. I’ve been wearing these Juicy [Couture] pants lately, like some velour joints that I cannot take off because it makes me feel good. You gotta be radical with your dressing and be over the top, but anything that I see in an artist or inspiration. If they’re free with it, that’s what inspires me. So I try to choose clothes that make me feel as liberated as hell.

MTV News: Both the video and the lyrics for “Top Man” point to your path in music. You talk about being in L.A. and striving to be on top. In the video for that song, an audience member, when you’re on stage, literally throws a bottle at your head.

De’Wayne: Yo, yes.

MTV News: Did you ever have to endure anything that brutal during your come-up? How ripped from your life is that?

De’Wayne: That brutal, no. I hadn’t dealt with anything like that, but I’ve definitely been at shows as a kid… being in Texas and being six of, like, seven artists [on a bill] as a kid was pretty tough for me. But once I started to tour with these bands, it was more just the parents who were just — they would be staring at you. You know, I dance on stage and I’ll be grinding on stage. I would see parents covering their kids’ eyes. It was never anything weird. I always had a Trump moment too. During the last tour, I would kind of go off on just how I felt on what was going on at the moment and I would see parents kind of cutting up. After the show, it was always respect, it was always love, and people appreciated my opinions, and I appreciated theirs, too. So it was never, like, bad. I just kind of wanted to be hit by a brick and see if I can deal with that, in the video, and make it look cool.

Pop Smoke Hits No. 1 With Posthumous Debut Album Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon

Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke was shot and killed in Los Angeles in February, but by May, talk of a posthumously released debut album was all but confirmed. And on July 3, that album indeed arrived as Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, executive-produced by Smoke’s idol 50 Cent and featuring guest appearances by 50 himself along with Lil Baby, Quavo, DaBaby, Roddy Ricch, Lil Tjay, and more.

The sheer force of the album, as well as Smoke’s legacy, is strong — on Monday (July 13), it hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the rapper’s first time at the top of the charts. His earlier mixtapes, Meet the Woo and Meet the Woo 2, had reached 105 and 7, respectively.

His label head, Steven Victor, commemorated the album’s release by sharing behind-the-scenes clips of the rapper in the studio, including a few with Quavo.

Shoot for the Stars moved 251,000 units in its first week, according to Billboard, which makes it the sixth-biggest week for an album in 2020 — behind similar juggernaut releases from The Weeknd, BTS, Lil Uzi Vert, Eminem, and Lady Gaga. It’s also the first posthumous No. 1 since December 2018, when the late XXXTentacion‘s album Skins debuted.

Pop Smoke’s album achievement comes just days after Los Angeles police arrested five people in connection with his murder. Its release also came after backlash to its initial Virgil Abloh-designed cover artwork, which was widely derided by fans. The final version, designed by Ryder Ripps, was reportedly chosen by Pop Smoke’s mother.

50 Cent, meanwhile, weighed in on helping to bring the album to the finish line to Billboard. “As soon as I know that the record positioned itself for No. 1, I feel like I did enough,” he said. Read that entire conversation here.

Zara Larsson’s Clubby Call, Essential Listening By Ian Isiah, And More Songs We Love

There is a comforting timbre to Ian Isiah‘s sweet falsetto, which chimes over mid-tempo snares and slow-grooving keys on “Loose Truth,” a track off his forthcoming Chromeo-produced EP, Auntie. The truth referred to by the title is the tenacity of Isiah’s community. The song is dedicated to them, and particularly to essential workers; a corresponding music video, released last week, honors both, with visuals of people in and out of scrubs embracing, laughing, dancing, and hanging out on stoops. Community chatter book-ends the lyrics, like a choir to Isiah’s testament: It’s a tender proclamation of the power of family in a pandemic, gospel for a heavy heart. —Coco Romack

City Girls And Doja Cat Mean Business In Their NSFW “Pussy Talk” Video

After a seemingly endless parade of obstacles — including jail time and the leak of their latest album, the 15-track City on Lock — paved the way for their fateful reuniting last fall,  City Girls are back, and they mean business.

That much was made clear with the Sunday (July 6) release of the music video for their trash-talking single “Pussy Talk.” The visuals place the duo, Yung Miami and TJ, and “Say So” singer Doja Cat in an office setting, where they clank at keyboards with acrylic nails, prop their red-bottomed Christian Louboutin heels atop desks, and scan through file cabinets filled with documents about various types of men (princes, hockey players).

The Daps-directed video pans to fantasy scenes in which the crew dons glittering bodysuits and hardware, topped by pointed cat ears; these kitties, the video seems to say, are worth their weight in gold. Meanwhile, the refrain’s lyrics note that “Pussy Talk” is multilingual, translating not just to “English, Spanish, and French,” but also to “Euros, dollars, and yens.” Grizabella the Glamour Cat could never! Check it out below.

How Tate McRae Evolved From A Dance Star To A ‘Vicious’ New Talent

Before she was an subterranean pop artist navigating the darker spaces on songs like “Vicious” and “You Broke Me First,” Tate McRae was a dancer. She even appeared as as finalist on So You Think You Can Dance. But she learned how to play piano, and since then, McRae’s been digging into her musical side.

“Music has kind of always surrounded me,” the Canadian singer-songwriter told MTV recently, sitting in front of a dance award from her youth, in a segment she filmed from home while in quarantine. “As a dancer, when you’re moving, you’re listening to music so much because you’re trying to portray it with your body. You’re dissecting a song way more than anyone would actually think you are.”

That look into her past helps inform the artist on display now, one who’s collaborated with Lil Mosey, Audrey Mika, and Saygrace. McRae, the MTV Push artist for July 2020, said she brings that same kind of emotional and mental energy into the studio to create her own music now.

“My favorite way to get into the songwriting process is to get into the studio, and then usually, they play a loop of four chords, or something, or guitar, and then I just start singing,” she said.

McRae also mentioned how her music comes straight out of her life and how she tries not to “overthink things.” But for “Vicious,” that process was upended a little bit — she refers to it as one belonging to a version of herself called “Feisty Tate.” “Last kiss, leave your lips blood red,” she sings on the buoyant track. “Burning bridges, breaking dishes, look you made me something vicious.”

Originally conceived as a much lusher tune complete with conga parts, McRae and producer Mark Nilan worked to strip it back and “switch up the vibe” in order to pursue where she wants to head sonically, including where she might even see herself in a few years. “Now we’ve hit a place that I’m super excited with,” she said, calling the song “empowering” and even “badass.”

Get to know McRae in the interview above, then watch her filmed-from-home performance of “Vicious” as well to see how the song evolved.

Orville Peck’s Heartbroken Twang, Jessie Ware’s Sultry Banger, And More Songs We Love

Orville Peck’s latest, a Spotify Singles cover of Bronski Beat’s 1984 ballad about a small-town expat, is the flamboyant country crooner at his finest: mournful, melodramatic, and infectiously catchy. The British synth-pop trio’s masterful storytelling finds a kindred spirit in Peck’s soulful vocals. His entire cover is thick with emotion. When Peck sings, “Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away,” you feel restless in your seat; when he belts, “Cry, boy, cowboy, cry,” you feel the phantom prickle of tears in your eyes. It’s Peck’s rodeo, y’all. We’re all just living in it. —Sam Manzella

Ty Dolla $ign Samples Kanye West’s Passing-Train Meme For Clubby New ‘Ego Death’

Yesterday (June 30), Kanye West dropped a bit of a surprise: a new rap song that once again embraced the abrasive edge of his 2010s output. And today (July 1), he’s kept that momentum rolling thanks to a featured appearance on a clubby new track from Ty Dolla $ign that wouldn’t have sounded all the way out of place on 2016’s The Life of Pablo. It’s called “Ego Death,” and it also finds FKA Twigs, Skrillex, and Serpentwithfeet giving life to the song as well.

On his verse, West addresses the Super Bowl halftime show, the Grammys, the value of recognition of achievements against inner worth, and more. It follows Ty’s exploration of the title theme: “Ego death is where you find happiness.”

There’s a lot packed into the four minute of “Ego Death,” including a Queen Latifah sample, a breezy interlude anchored by the lilting vocals of Serpentwithfeet, and a gorgeously spacey outro built around FKA Twigs. West, too, ends his verse with a punch:

All these admirations, likes, and false validations
Feed into our ego, talk-for-something negro
One in four get locked up, your girlfriend get knocked up
Plan B was they Plan A to lower the count of our families
To lower the count on our damn votes

“Every time me and ‘Ye get together, I feel like we just make something great,” Ty told Beats 1 Radio about the collaboration. The pair have previously teamed up for “Real Friends,” “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2),” and “Everything We Need.”

“I was watching Instagram, and there was some video of ‘Ye walking through Chicago. Then he was like, ‘Hold up. There’s a train going by.’ I thought that was so hard, just seeing him just walking through Chicago by himself,’ Ty continued. “So I sampled that part, and then I went out to Chicago to work on Yandhi with him. Then I played him the record, and he went crazy. Everybody in the room ran out, like, ‘Oh, shit.’ So he came back. He grabbed the little performance mic, and he started beatboxing and just freestyling and shit.”

Listen to the end result on the searing “Ego Death” above.

Ellie Goulding And Lauv Surprise-Drop ‘Slow Grenade’ After Adorable Twitter Exchange

Ellie Goulding is gearing up to release her double-sided album “Brightest Blue” on July 17. Her first LP since 2015’s Delirium, the collection will feature contributions from the likes of Diplo, Swae Lee, and Serpentwithfeet, as well as a posthumous assist from Juice WRLD.

But as the anticipation builds, it seems the “Love Me Like You Do” singer can’t contain her excitement. On Tuesday (June 30), Goulding surprise-released “Slow Grenade,” a collaboration with fellow platinum blonde, the multi-platinum singer-songwriter Lauv.

Beginning with a minimal, repetitive strumming that moves into a clapping beat, Goulding’s lyrics weave a tale about a relationship that sours, then explodes. She makes creative use of the song’s namesake on a thundering chorus: “Slow grenade / It’s blowing up my mistakes,” she sings. “Still got time for me to stop it / It’s like a part of me must want it.”

Lauv joins in on the second verse, responding to Goulding’s internal musings like an opposing force. “Crazy, late nights in the city / Drink until you hate me,” he coos. “Think that we should move on / But we’re too scared of being alone.” The pair join on the bridge, alluding to the difficulty of ending a relationship built upon codependency (“Help me, my God this got messy”) and bringing to mind imagery of parking lot arguments and drunken, public spats (“‘Cause we put on one hell of a show”). With a heartbreak narrative this well-rounded, it’s easy to lose oneself to the pure, pop magic.

Prior to the song’s release, the singers shared a candid interaction on social media. “So I’ve been thinking about releasing one more song before #BrightestBlue comes out. maybe with @lauvsongs?” Goulding tweeted on Monday (June 29), tagging Lauv. To that, Lauv responded excitedly, “yayayayayayayay :)” — permission granted.