Aaron Carter is releasing his first album in 15 years, but you wouldn’t know his hiatus had been so long if you were just paying attention to just the celebrity magazines, where he has been a regular presence since he was a kid pop sensation in the late 1990s/early 2000s with his debut single “Crush on You.” The brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter famously declared bankruptcy (he settled with the IRS for back taxes at the ripe old age of 16), and has since acknowledged an eating disorder and bisexuality.
With his new EDM-tinged LøVë, featuring singles “Sooner or Later” and “Fool’s Gold,” Carter, 30, is embarking on a tour of intimate venues that includes a stop at Voltage Lounge on Tuesday. He’s also talking with legislators about his proposed “Carter law” that would require child entertainers to attend business school and receive incremental payouts so they don’t blow through their earnings.
You’ve spent half of your life apart from what you do best. Did you pressure yourself into cramming every bit of growing up into this new album?
I don’t think so. I just dove in wholeheartedly, writing and producing the project. If I was going to wait that long, I needed to make it count. During the time that I wasn’t in the industry, or on the radio, I wanted to be. There were, however, things that held me back — psychological problems, bankruptcy. I had to go through a lot of crazy stuff in my 20s that most people don’t have to do in their lifetime.
But few of us get the opportunity to sing in front of millions of screaming German children or open for the Backstreet Boys at their first gig. What do you remember about that?
I did “Crush on You” and got a record deal right after that show. I was off to the races.
When you were a child singer, did you have dreams or foresight to know what sort of artist you might want to be?
That’s a good question. The experiences I had — all surrounded by adults and musicians who were with me forever — shaped me as I went along. I believe I was developing into becoming a real artist. Not that I wasn’t then … at least I was an entertainer whose songs were written for him. I did get that I wanted more. I knew I wanted to write, control some aspects of my output. I did know that I wanted to have that clout. I wanted the credit for being a good artist … for being authentic. I just didn’t want to be a voice on a track. There’s nothing wrong with that — I just wanted more.
You are open about what you want, who you are, the issues you have dealt with — from bisexuality to bulimia.
Being in the biz for so long and told to put on personae … you see the outcome. Personally, I developed my own brand of honesty, one that I have to say can sometimes be too revealing. I don’t want to be caught not being true or authentic. This is my life. Not everyone has to dig it. I’m in a good place.
Do you feel as if by coming out as bi — discussing your sexuality — you have connected with a broader audience?
That wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to discuss something that happened; that I could find both men and women attractive. Now, moving forward, I foresee myself being with a woman and having children with a woman. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t if I was with a man. But that’s not the case with my future.
What was the first song you wrote and produced for LøVë that gave it direction?
“Fool’s Gold” was really the starting point of the whole thing. I released it independently. It charted and it got the attention of Sony, who signed me. But I had already finished the entire album on my own before they got hold of it — that was a nice feeling. I brought them a whole project — a whole story, mine — that I had done. That was a very therapeutic project to get through, especially after my last two relationships went wrong. “Don’t Say Goodbye” also focused on the most recent relationship I had. I’m proud of being able to fit that in there. It’s very present.
This new album is less glossy pop — how we remember you first — and harder-edged EDM and trap. Why did that sound suit your new songs, and is this where we want to nestle for a bit?
EDM was what I heard as a kid when I was touring in Europe. Growing up in Florida, my siblings were all about Miami hip-hop: Juvenile and Trick Daddy. It’s a hybrid I believe suits where I’m going. It’s pop music and it’s organic in that it comes straight from me. Then again, my evolution and the evolution of music itself moves quickly. Who knows where I could go?
8 p.m. Voltage Lounge, 421 N. 7th St., $20-$70, 215-494-7386, voltagelounge.com