If there was one artist who really came through for us during the pandemic, it was Miley Ray Cyrus. Through those early months, the singer, songwriter, actor, activist and philanthropist kept us entertained and educated with the Webby-award winning Bright Minded Instagram Live series, which featured Selena Gomez, Hailey Bieber, drag queen Trixie Mattel, YouTuber Rickey Thompson and more.
Throughout the course of her career, the 28-year-old has maintained an ability to both entertain—thanks to megahits such as Wrecking Ball and more recently Midnight Sky—and educate, via her nonprofit Happy Hippie Foundation, which rallies young people to fight the injustice faced by homeless youth, LGBTQ+ youth and other vulnerable people.
On 10 June, Cyrus will join forces with Magnum ice cream for a virtual concert mastered in 8D sound. The Miley x Magnum live performance will see the star play some of the biggest hits from her Plastic Hearts album (which features duets with Dua Lipa and Billy Idol) as well as an exclusive cover of the 1986 classic, Midas Touch by Midnight Star—remastered as Miley’s Touch.
You created a TV series, Bright Minded, during lockdown, which I was a big fan of. How do you reflect on that experience now?
“Bright Minded was really encouraging people to take this time that we had no choice but to internalise, to go inside and explore ourselves. We didn’t have many external experiences going on at that time. So all of us were able to explore ourselves in our different layers and dig deeper into things that we haven’t had the time to [go into].”
There’s a lot of discussion around the impact of social media. Bright Minded was a great example of how we can use it positively. How do you overcome the more negative aspects of it?
“Social media is an important tool for connecting and starting interesting conversations. It gives people a voice. It’s an important way of reflecting who you are on a page, saying something about yourself, telling a story, and connecting with other like-minded people.”
How does your amazing godmother, country singing legend Dolly Parton, inspire you?
“In so many ways—Dolly has inspired me to express and celebrate every layer and version of myself. She has been so constant in her career, but also had such an incredible evolution. So there has been that consistency, but also that growth. And whether it’s talking about her as an entertainer, as an actor, a musician, an activist, or her self-deprecation and her relationship to her identity and her persona, I think she’s very layered.”
What did Dolly think of your Saturday Night Live cover of her song, Light Of A Clear Blue Morning?
“She loved it! She sent me a fax saying how much she was honoured that on Mother’s Day, I dedicated it to her, my godmother.”
Your next cover will be of Midnight Star’s Midas Touch for the virtual concert. What do you sound like in 8D and why did you pick that track?
“I picked it because I was able to customise it as Miley’s Touch. And 8D is just super immersive. So I’m really excited for my fans to hear it in this way because it feels like they’re just right there with me and my band for a super-intimate experience. They’re gonna get this layered sense of sound because of 8D.”
How would you say your fashion and style has evolved?
“Fashion to me is kind of flipping yourself inside out. It’s like wearing your heart, wearing your guts, wearing your values, wearing your identity, wearing your pain, wearing your joy. There’s something kind of childlike [about it]. You’re so fearless when you get yourself dressed when you’re a kid. You don’t think about what someone will think of you or what they’ll judge. It’s just about expression and how you feel that day. There’s a fearlessness. And so when I get dressed, I try to kind of think like my inner child, and be genuine and authentic in whatever I’m wearing.”
People have many layers. Which parts of yourself have you kept private and why?
“Well, if I answered this question, then I wouldn’t really be holding it back from the public! But I have a very intimate and close relationship with my family. But like all families, we’re also complex, but we embrace the fact that each of us are so different from one another. Me and my siblings, we’re a lot alike, but we also have big differences. And we just accept that and don’t judge each other. And our family makes unconditional love a priority.”
You recently dedicated a post to the fourth anniversary of Malibu, one of your most open, vulnerable love songs. How does music help you make sense of life, love, loss, joy, sorrow and everything in between?
“I’m a believer that everyone’s suffering is different. All of us experience pain in our lives and loss and sorrow, but also joy and love and happiness. And so that song is bittersweet because it’s a reflection of a time that was filled with so much love and life, but it means something so different from when I wrote it. That song is complex because it’s filled with such a range of different feelings.”
Plastic Hearts tapped into 1980s glam and anthemic pop, while you’ve previously invested in hip-hop, rock and country, of course. What are you listening to at the moment, and how might we see this reflected on your next record?
“I’ve always loved music since I was born, but it was never genre specific. I listened and loved and found something that I related to in everything, so whether that was country, blues, jazz or pop, I found myself in that.”
You’ve worked with so many big stars—Joan Jett, Dolly, Stevie Nicks, Elton John, RuPaul—as well as Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson, Ariana Grande and Britney Spears. Is there anyone left to work with?
“There are always new emerging artists that are super interesting. I love Billie Eilish. I think she’s just the coolest. I love her, her messaging. I’d love to work with her.”
Rock or pop? You have to choose one!
“It depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Some days the toughest choice I have to make is Britney [Spears] or Courtney [Love]. Those are usually my big decisions, my big dilemmas.”
What advice would you give yourself 10 years from now?
“To stay updated, to keep educating myself, to never stop learning, to continue evolving and be conscious of the evolution happening around me, too. So keeping up with the next generation, looking at what they’re doing and what they’re interested in. We’re still honouring everything that’s been, but what happens if you don’t do that? You turn into [her father] Billy Ray Cyrus, who doesn’t have wifi (laughs).”
What’s one piece of advice you’ll never forget?
“It’s from my dad and it’s this: ‘A trying time is no time to quit trying.’”
Miley Cyrus has teamed up with Magnum ice cream to inspire the world to #ShowYourLayers and be true to pleasure. On her YouTube channel on 11 June at 2.30am Singapore Time, she will perform an exclusive concert mastered in 8D sound