On his largest tour yet, totalling over 60 dates, Greyson Chance is suitably relaxed - at least, initially so.
"I'm excited to break for Christmas," he tells Goldenplec. "My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said 'three days of hibernation'."
His first time playing Ireland, he's keen to the reshape the narrative on his unconventional career trajectory. Chance shot to fame at 12 years-old, when his school talent show performance of Lady Gaga's Paparazzi went viral. As was the norm with viral child stars at the time, Chance was invited to perform on Ellen, where host Ellen DeGeneres felt compelled to make Chance the first signing to her newly establised label, ElevenEleven.
An album came and went, before Chance made the decision to put his music career on pause - a difficult choice, not least for someone who was undoubtedly, promised the moon and stars off the back of a four minute video. Ultimately, it was prompted by a combination of disillusionment and burnout.
"I was very unsatisfied with what I was writing," he says. "I felt that a lot of what I was writing was shit. There was just nothing happening in my career. Not a single thing."
In an attempt to capitalise on his virality, Chance's debut album, 'Hold On 'Til The Night' followed shortly after. It debuted at number 29 on the Billboard 200. The releases that followed came in dribs and drabs - somewhere between EPs, the decision was made to go independent.
"My intention was off. I feel like I was writing music to save my career - that's not a healthy place to be writing from," he says candidly.
"For me, I just remember thinking, 'ok, it's time to grow up'. I really didn't want to be some washed-out rockstar living in California in my thirties with nothing under my belt. What's funny now is that I'm back on the major [label] again and we're touring and there's these things happening in my career but when I sit down at the piano, still, I really don't give a fuck about anyone or anything, bar the story that I want to tell."
The journey that left him questioning his artistic purpose resulted in some of his strongest work to date. 'Portraits' - the album Chance considers to be his true debut - is a measured reflection on love, friendship and family; angelic vocals and fractured keys stretched over relationship timelines. Put simply, it's a pop album that fully outlines the distance between then and now. Written across the year 2018, Chance was inspired by his friends' photography work - one in particular who took an interest in fashion.
Modelling for her, Chance says he found his confidence in the medium and inspired him to look back at his songs and recall distinct emotion felt in that moment, in the same way he did looking at his friend's photos.
"I remember it clicking and once it did it was just firm," he explains. "[The songs] felt like ripped journal entries of my year and what was going on through it. Each song is just a different portrait from that year."
"When I sit down at the piano, still, I really don't give a fuck about anyone or anything, bar the story that I want to tell."
Family is a recurring theme in his work, often calling back to moments he shared with his mother as a child. How do they feel about being such an integral part of his art?
"West Texas, for my mom and I, is very important," he says, referring to a particular song on the album detailing their conversations. "I grew up really poor, and I think, for my immediate family, we're so involved in each other's lives because of that. We're a very close, tight-knit group.
"That song in particular ... It's everything that she taught me. It's everything that she's still teaching me. There's been so many instances still where I'll call her about something and I want a pity card from her and to say, 'oh sweetie, this is horrible', and she'll do that when it's valid ... But 98% of the time she'll be like, 'ok, boohoo, what are you going to do about it?' That strength, that's what I get from her in so many ways. I owe it to her and it's tribute to her."
He confesses: "I miss my family so much right now. It's hard."
With similar honesty, Chance admits that he made a rule going into the album that he would not self-censor, no matter how painful the retelling came to be.
"I pulled back for so long, and I was forced to do it for so long," he says. "I was always told 'don't say this in the interview, always say the right thing', over and over again. And for me, it was like, 'no, I'm going to tell my story now'."
Scars and all, Chance has shown his grieving process: on White Roses, it's undulating pain, followed by Timekeeper, documenting a rage that snipes. Despite some fans' assumptions, Chance states the latter is actually about two people, but won't go into it any further than that.
"I just went into the studio and made shit that I like."
Another area that seems to be off-limits? Chance's faith, past and present. As well as the sprinkling of references to his Catholic upbringing on 'Portraits', a standout lyric from Chance's 2016 EP 'Somewhere Over My Head': "Not even God could give me this feeling."
When questioned on whether he struggled to reconcile his feelings of faith and his sexuality, he says: "I might not want to answer that ... I'll save that for the book."
Chance is hoping he can keep surprising people with his releases - his recent country-tinged Oklahoma-ode, Boots, features the lyric: "I've been Western before all these punks." His upcoming record is being executive-produced by Teddy Geiger, who's previously worked with Shawn Mendes, Lizzo and Christina Aguilera, to name a few.
"I think a lot of people are going to think, 'oh, he's trying to step out of his comfort zone too much' or whatever, and they might think it's because I'm trying to surprise people. I just went into the studio and made shit that I like."
From the get-go, it's clear that this pivot genre isn't motivated by his desire to piggyback on country music's mainstream renaissance, heralded by the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Orville Peck. On the contrary, Boots feels like a track that lay dormant in Chance - he just needed the freedom to realise his vision.
"It's pissing people off, which is cool!" he laughs. "I'm going in and people are like 'woah, you're making records like this?' And I'm like, 'hell yeah man! Let's do it!"
"I really didn't want to be some washed-out rockstar living in California in my thirties with nothing under my belt."
However, it's not always easy to maintain that front of creative confidence Chance puts forward in his work.
"I wish that I was as strong as my fans think I am sometimes, but the truth of the matter is that I'm just not. I love being a source of strength and light for them, but you best believe that I have horrible days - bad, bad, bad days that inspire a lot of this music."
That said, they remain his motivation for getting out of bed in the morning, understanding their role in the making and breaking of an artist. It's why, to this day, Chance singles out Lady Gaga as being a significant case study for new artists.
"This is me going off on a rant for a second," he says. "The other day someone described the beginning of the Gaga era - they were a bit younger than me, maybe 16 or 17, a friend of a friend - and they were like, 'yeah you know, that first tacky era that she went through?' And I wanted to fucking punch this kid. If gay culture starts to do that ... Then they're sitting on the wrong train. Anyone going after 'The Fame/The Fame Monster' [Lady Gaga's first album and its reissue], you do not have a place at my show!
"What you see is, through that whole era ... You have to sacrifice yourself to your fans because that's what drives the music. For me, there are some nights where I don't want to go on stage, I just want to sleep. But guess what? I owe it to them to give them an act, an hour and a half to escape their lives."
Through making the record, Chance realised his own strength and purpose as an artist, after many years of not knowing what to do or how to do it. He expresses a want to "cherish it all" going forward - in stark contrast with the his race-to-the-bottom experienced which followed his sudden virality.
He takes a moment to consider the impact that had on him - a child very suddenly exposed to all facets of the industry before being taken away just as quickly. It's here Chance decides to end the interview on an ominous note.
"It had a big effect on me ... And maybe I'll leave it at this. There's so much within my story from the 10 years that I've been in music that no one knows. I will one day tell it honestly and I will tell it completely openly. But wherever there's money involved in that sort of way, you see a lot of different sides of people, and I had to see that at 13.
"What impact did that have on me? It made me everything that I am now."
Greyson Chance's new single 'Boots' is out now.
"It's pissing people off, which is cool! I'm going in and people are like 'woah, you're making records like this?' And I'm like, 'hell yeah man! Let's do it!"