As a younger sister, I can vouch for how annoying it is to be compared to your older sis all the time. I’ve been called by her name and referred to as “the other one”, and that’s only from my own friends and family. Noah Cyrus, however, has had it from the whole world.
The younger sibling of Miley (sorry) and part of the Cyrus empire, when she decided to come out with her own music back in 2016, the comparisons to her famous clan were inevitable. “I just found it annoying!” She bemoans down the receiver from LA: “I knew it was going to happen and I had to be like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s okay, that’s what comes with it!’ But no, it sucked, it was annoying.” She scowls with refreshing candour for an A-list 18 year old, the way every normal 18 year old should, just not with normal 18 year old grievances.
“Now that I’m two years into this I want to be able to speak the truth about that,” she continues, “which is that it was really awful but I got through it. But now, whenever people recognise me for me, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world because I have worked so hard to get to where I am right now… This is only the beginning for me I think, and I know that the image of my family members and my last name will go away in time.”
Her surname might still conjure up an image of the full family cohort, but Cyrus’ time working on her own thing has ensured the masses know her as Noah, not just “Miley’s little sis”. Arriving with “Make Me (Cry)” featuring Labrinth in 2016, her debut track demonstrated her capabilities with jazz-tinged smokey vocals and emotive lyrics that pull at the harshest of heartstrings. “It’s just been really crazy,” she reflects on the interim since then. “Lots of different travelling to lots of different places and getting to meet a lot of different fans… I’ve had so many other singles come out! Everything’s expanded so much in two years.”
“Expand” is a fitting word to describe her path into the music world. Not just releasing her own bops, she’s hopped on an eclectic selection of tracks, from the soulful “Waiting” with Jake Bugg to the rave-ready “Chasing Colors” with Marshmello x Ookay. “A lot of the features are pop and dance-y and I like those EDM features,” she tells me. “I’m not just a pop artist when I get to collab with these people. Personally, I lean to darker sounds and a darker style of music which is kind of what my upcoming sound is going to be. A little darker and a little less bubbly pop.” Was she never tempted to follow in the footsteps of her country legend father, Billy Ray, I ask? She laughs, “Never! I’m not totally against it because I do love country music and I love the harmonies. A lot of my music is inspired by the country music I was born into… I don’t know if I would ever go straight down the country lane? Maybe once my fans wouldn’t hate me for doing it…”
Cyrus mostly writes about her current relationship and the burgeoning teenage romance forms the core story behind her upcoming EP. Similar to her debut release and her unapologetic latest track “We Are…”, it’s full of emotion and her self-professed most honest work yet. “Anything that would happen in our relationship, I would write it down and then go write him a song! It’s about my struggles which get in the way sometimes,” she admits, “with travelling and being on the road a lot of the time and the anxiety that comes with that. Sometimes you get depressed with the time changes and the busy schedule. That messed me up a little bit and I thought that it was getting in the way of some things.”
The busy schedule she’s balancing is no feat for the faint-hearted. Over the past year she’s performed at numerous festivals including the huge iHeartRadio Jingle Ball and supported Katy Perry on a States-wide tour, all alongside performing her own gigs, bagging up her life for months at a time. Pair that with the distance from her loved ones and constant scrutiny from the corrosive tabloid rumour mill, and it’s enough for anyone to want to put a cathartic pen to paper.
“I want my fans to know that it’s okay to feel your feelings,” she tells me, hoping to lead by example. “Honestly, I am the most emotional person on the planet, I cry so easily, and I’m fine with that! If I’m going on happy, happy, happy all the time, I feel like that’s not real. To feel your feelings is totally okay and I’m totally okay being open about my anxiety. And definitely being a female in the music industry makes it a lot harder because people online like to body shame, and sometimes the grown-up men in the music industry maybe don’t take young women seriously.”
Here’s where having the family name behind her comes in handy, with the Cyrus’s shared experience in the industry not only forming her support system, but inspiring her latest song, “Team”. “It’s about supporting someone no matter what they’re going through,” she says, just like her own family unit. “It’s not about the good things all the time, it’s about no matter what they’re going through, you’ll always support them. The artwork for the song is a picture of my grandma and my grandpa, who I never had the chance to meet and it’s my mom’s handwriting on the artwork and lyric video, so it’s a very personal record to me.”
“I know a banger when I hear a banger,” she laughs, maybe it is in the genes (see: Miley’s 2013 album, Bangerz). “But sometimes I just like a song and wanna put it out. It may not be the biggest global record, but I’m passionate about it.” Cyrus’ humility is endearing, but with new music incoming and her headline “TBD” tour, she’s already embarked on a pop conquest. And if those global hits don’t come rolling in, there’s always that country music concept album on the cards?
Photography - Dana Boulos
Fashion - Karolyn Pho
Hair - Michael Duenas
Makeup - Katelin Gan
Entertainment Director - Erica Cornwall
Wonderland Magazine Summer 2018 Issue