• About A Band: Halsey

    “I’m making s’mores for breakfast, because I’m not a grownup,” 20-year-old Ashley Frangipane jokes in a baby voice. She’s at her manager’s house in Los Angeles, back from a cross-country tour opening up 19,000 audience arena shows and taking a break from raiding the kitchen to talk on the phone.
    Considering she’s got the sweet tooth of someone half her age, Ashley’s doing some pretty big things. Under her stage name, Halsey, she’s garnered a devoted fan following (600 thousand Instagram followers and counting) that's been growing ever since she released her first single “Ghost” a year ago. The stinging pop melodies and feminist anthems she continues to put out have solidified her standing as, in her own words, the New Americana. And that’s only the beginning; Halsey has just released her first full-length album, Badlands (a follow-up to last year's Room 93 EP), and now she's hitting the road once again for a string of sold-out headlining shows. 

    It's these complexities—say, opening for Imagine Dragons one day and eating s’mores for breakfast the next—that make Halsey so fascinating. It's also what fuels her confidence in herself: “That uncomfortable place that used to make me feel like I wasn’t accepted anywhere, I’ve come to own that,” she says. “Now you can’t pin me down and put me in one place—I’m multidimensional.”
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    Photos by Luca Venter
    When your first single, “Ghost” came out, you were using the Internet as your main avenue to release music. Now, only a year or so later, you’re playing to huge arena audiences. What does that feel like?
    It’s a blessing and a curse because it means anything I’m excited about [my fans] are equally excited about. But then sometimes it gets frustrating having so many people involved, because sometimes a very small thing can be made very big. If I favorite a tweet or if I’m seen somewhere wearing something, it becomes a fucking national news topic overnight because of how many people are invested in what I do. But that’s the thing about having an audience; all eyes are on you and you have to decide how you’re going to handle that.

    You seem to have the confidence to handle that well, despite the fact that being a 20-year-old woman who’s building her presence in the music industry is a very intimidating position to be in.
    Confidence isn’t something you just have or you don’t; it’s something that develops. I’ve been confident my entire life but for different reasons. When I was a really young kid, I was super confident because I was very smart. I was a super good student and I liked to have conversations with adults. Then I became an adolescent and I went through puberty and went from being this really ugly, nerdy, smart kid to being someone that people suddenly found attractive after bullying me for my whole childhood—so my newfound confidence was an attractive confidence. [When] I entered the music industry I realized I’m going to work really hard and I’m going to do this and that confidence shifted. Now I walk into a room and I know that I can hold my own with anyone in that room because I run my own business, I’m true to my art, and I’m proud of who I am.
    So confidence comes naturally to you?
    I think confidence is something that comes from different places, and my entire life I’ve latched onto different things to become confident about. It’s funny because maybe that stems from insecurity, that need to have something to be confident and proud of, which is pretty ironic in retrospect. I’ve always been self aware, and I’ve always been sure of myself because I’ve always fallen in between everywhere in my life. I didn’t really fit in anywhere. I think that was the best thing that ever happened to me. Being the type of artist I am, I really don’t fit in anywhere now. I’m not really an alternative artist, I’m not really a pop artist, I’m not really much of anything. People have a hard time pigeonholing me and I like that.

    Based on your massively loyal fan base, it’s obvious you’re not the only one who feels this way. They seem to relate.
    Well that’s why they help me. These [fans] come to these meet and greets and they’re crying hysterically saying “you saved my life, you helped me so much you don’t even understand.” And I’m like, “I DO understand because you guys do the same fucking thing to me.” I don’t even want to think of where I’d be if I wasn’t doing this. I was in a really, really dark place before this because I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. When I came into this and this became my career and these amazing people allowed me to make art and be supported, they saved my life. 

    What is one of the most difficult issues for young women growing up today? 
    I think young women are too often told that it’s wrong for them to figure out who they are. There’s this expectation for young people in general to figure it all out, and then when they think they have we chastise them for it and say, “you’re too young to know who you are!" If you think because a young girl listens to pop music it makes her uneducated, that’s stupid. If you think just because a kid is in highschool that they haven’t experienced that much, that’s stupid. When I was in highschool I had two friends die of drug overdoses. I have been through some shit, you know what I mean? I was well-lived, well-cultured, well-traveled, and educated and I was 16 [years old]. This Lolita flower child naivety that everyone wants to paint young women as, I think that kind of mentality has to go away. We need to see young women as strong and full of potential, and when they’re experimenting you need to forgive them for their mistakes.

    Who are some strong, powerful female artists you’d love to collaborate with? 
    Maybe Courtney Love—I’d probably throw up in my mouth. I’d love to do something with Alanis Morissette, not musically because I’d be far too afraid of fucking it up but something from an activist perspective. She had a massive, massive, massively important influence on me as a child because my mom played her records growing up. Jagged Little Pill came out the year I was born and it’s almost like I was born with the energy of that record [laughs]. I hate to sound like such an Internet girl, but she’s my spiritual mom. 
    You said you were in a very dark place before you started your music career. If you could go back now and tell yourself one thing, what would it be? 
I would say everything that is happening to you is happening to lay the foundation for who you’re going to be and what you’re going to do. If I didn’t have people who made me feel lesser or weird then I wouldn’t be so okay with myself now and I probably wouldn’t be as good of an artist, as good of an anything because I think there would be a lot of insecurity. I’m not worried about people not liking me because—news flash—people haven’t liked me my whole fucking life [laughs]! So I think I would go back and tell myself, everything that’s happened to you right now, all these little battles—and they are little battles even though they don’t feel like it now—are shaping you and preparing you for war. And you’re going to win that war because it’s practice that you’re getting.
    Stream Halsey's curated playlist below and pick up Badlands UO exclusive vinyl—available now.