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Cyrus is Australia’s next pop trailblazer with a message of empowerment

Posted on April 12, 2018
98 out of 100 based on 826 user ratings

The best Australian songs offer familiarity as they venture new heights. From the outside, Cyrus’ work is the confluence where alternative musicianship and pop flair meet, pooling confessions, passions and social consciousness into a menagerie of mystery.

In 2018, male pop stars are dominating most international music markets – just ask Ed Sheeran, Troye Sivan, or any of One Direction’s alumni.

And while those artists continually blow up our airwaves and ARIA Chart, showing a true fervour for the genre in Australia, it’s time for the world to meet pop’s latest contemporary.

At just 22-years-old, Cyrus has cemented himself as one of Australia’s leading alt-pop talents with new track ‘Blah’ destined to be one of the biggest songs of the summer.

Deeply personal to Cyrus, the song is the culmination of everything he has worked towards as an artist – a “fuck you” to the traditional pop parameters he felt pressure to conform to. It’s also catchy as hell.

Listen: Cyrus – ‘Blah’

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I feel like a lot of people would be like, ‘What have you written this about?’,” he tells Tone Deaf, pre-empting his fans’ curiosity.

A conversation between the artist and society, ‘Blah’ pushes away societies’ conventions and norms, along with the pressure and expectations from others on the young artist.

“I was in this place and I felt like a lot of people had started to give me their two cents. It kind of became a whirlwind of ‘blah blah blah…’

“A couple of hours later I just ran with that idea and wrote this really personal story – but also a holistically relatable story – that anyone could understand about people telling you what to do.”

The most personal of all his releases so far, the Wollongong native showcases a maturity and confidence far surpassing his age. After a brief stint at the University of Wollongong (UOW) studying graphic design, an 18-year-old Cyrus auditioned for The X Factor in 2015, eventually winning the seventh season of the show.

Cyrus’ artistry extends to his continual use of his graphic design skills to enhance his aesthetic output – his vibrant persona cuts through in montages and graphics he creates himself. Filling his social media with extensions of his identity rather than mindless nonsense, Cyrus is a pop star for the modern pysche. 

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We brought summer inside because it was the middle of winter lol #Blah | 📷 @ameliajdowd

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It’s not his early induction into the music industry that divorces him from normalcy though, Cyrus is an open book with a social message, a modern, cognisant, self-aware human being.

“I know what I want, I know what I’m doing, I know what I want to say and I can say that with complete honesty. I don’t think that has ever been as evident as it is in this song.”

From brooding ballad, ‘Alone’ in 2017, or his guest feature on producer BAYTEK’s track ‘Anchor’ that same year, ‘Blah’ couldn’t be more of a stylistic departure from his previous works. But as Cyrus tell us, that was the point.

‘Blah’ came from a writing session with producer Angus Amastro, who Cyrus met through mutual friends. It took just two sessions for them to come up with the demo of the track.

“I went into the room and was like, ‘Bro, let’s write something that fits in your world’.

“[…] I feel like a lot of concepts were born out of that session that wouldn’t happen anywhere else.”

“I know what I want, I know what I’m doing, I know what I want to say and I can say that with complete honesty. I don’t think that has ever been as evident as it is in this song.”

Cyrus

Surprisingly, playing ‘Blah’ to his A&R for the first time is the highlight of 2018 so far for Cyrus, who expected a negative reaction.

“He was like, ‘What is this? It’s insane, you should keep following this!’ In that moment I felt this huge change in my headspace.”

“[…] I think at the start of this year I had a ‘lightbulb moment’. In the first two years that I was in the industry, I was still learning everything […] I’d been putting myself in this little fucking cube and all I [needed] to do is break out of that.”

Cyrus has cracked the code early in his career. He’s taken the music industry paradigm and made it work for him, not against him.

He’s aware of the grand charade of promotion, but he doesn’t lean into it. He’s seen behind the velvet curtain, yet his mystery isn’t manufactured; a tough feat by any means in 2018.

It’s taken me three years in the industry to know that there is so much more to it than you see in the general public,” he says. “The whole creative process, the politics, how long it takes for a song to actually come out…

“With me, there are so many amazing people, like my manager, my whole team at the label, all the people I collaborate with, all the writers I get to work with, they’re all involved,” he continues. “You know so much more just from working with all these different people.”

“This is important, people being able to see a new, honest side of my music and my artistry. That is the most exciting thing I hope people take away.”

Cyrus is yet to debut ‘Blah’ live outside of two intimate industry shows, so naturally, he’s eager to see how his audience reacts.

“I just want it to be a party, a celebration for music and the shit that I’m speaking about,” he says. “I get really emotional when I think about performing the stuff that I’m working on live. I’ve always loved being on stage and entertaining people.

“I think combining that passion for performing with the product that I’ve created… it feels like the pinnacle of what I’ve wanted to do. This is me, this is what I love, this is my passion.”

“If anything, when I’m making music, the last thing I want is to be told that I can’t do certain things because they’re off limits.”

Cyrus believes a trend is coming to the forefront of pop music at the moment, and looking at the current additions to triple j of late – an inherently indie-leaning broadcaster – he’s right on the money.

“There’s a misconception with pop music,” he says pointedly. “People think you can’t do a certain thing, you can’t make those sounds, you can’t say certain things…

“When you look back at pop music it’s so evident that people have experimented and pushed boundaries to try expand it,” he explains. “It happens so fast.

“The music that is going to be in the Top 10 in three years is going to be crazy,” he adds. “If you heard it today you’d be like ‘no way.’ […] It’s exciting.”

Cyrus
‘Blah’ is a showcase of Cyrus’ sleek pop sensibilities and alt leaning musicianship

We’ll have to wait until 2019 for the follow-up to ‘Blah’, and Cyrus remains tight-lipped on any stylistic clues.

I feel it touches on a lot of key moments this year. I’ve ignored voices that have told me what to do, relationships have ended and started. My body of work reflects those aspects of my life. It’s the first bigger project I’ve worked on.”

Following months subsumed in the studio and even more in writers rooms with Australia’s songwriting heavy-hitters, we can finally expect to see Cyrus back on the road, with tour dates coming soon. 

You get the feeling that’s where he shines the most, under the lights, baring his soul with the kind of unabashed bravery reserved only for those who truly know their worth.

“I think the end of this year is going to be the start of a big next year.”

Cyrus’ new single ‘Blah’ is out now through Sony.