Musicians who can truly be named artists is a rarity within today’s music industry.
Halsey can be included within that small pool. You might have heard of this artist with hits such as “New Americana,” “Ghost,” and “Colors“, which featured Teen Wolf’sTyler Posey in the recently released music video, which you can check out below!
The New Jersey born singer has been garnering attention for a while now, beginning with her 14,000 friends on MySpace back when she was 14, and 16,000 YouTube subscribers at 18. Halsey released her first EP, Room 93 back in 2014, and nearly a year later released her debut album, Badlands which came into number two in Billboard’s Top 200. Going from songwriting in her bedroom to performing in arenas, the 21 year-old is setting herself up for a mainstream rise. If you have yet to hear of this powerhouse, here are 9 facts about this artist that you should know before giving her a listen.
Halsey isn’t her real name
Before Halsey, the stage name, there was Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. The “Colors” singer came up with the name from Halsey Street in New York City, and realized that the name is also an anagram to her birth name.
“I grew up in New Jersey, and I would always take the train into New York, and I was getting into a lot of trouble,” she told Nylon Magazine. “When I was 17 I was seeing a guy who was 24 and he lived on Halsey Street in Brooklyn. That’s where I first started writing music and where I started to feel like I was a part of something bigger than my town in middle of nowhere New Jersey. Halsey is kind of like a manifestation of all the exaggerated parts of me [Ashley], so it’s like an alter ego.”
She majored in song writing when she had to enroll in a community college
At 18, Halsey was struggling financially, so when it was time to go to college, she had to enroll in a community college. “I intended to be a fine art major in college. When you’re an art major you have this pretension, especially when you’re eighteen years old, like ‘I know more than these professors.’ In some fit of adolescent rage I thought I’d piss my parents off and I signed up as a songwriting major. I went one semester and it just sort of worked for me” she told Fuse. “As someone who enjoys writing, the biggest struggle, I think, for any writer, is people not actually reading what you write. Songwriting was the easiest solution because it forces people to hear what I’m saying from my voice. I always say I’m a singer out of necessity because I can’t imagine anyone singing my songs but myself.”
The term “tri-bi” has been used to describe her
Halsey identifies as bisexual, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 17 years old, and has a black father and white mother, making her biracial. As a result, the term “tri-bi” was spread online when describing her, and she hates it.
“The idea that something like that would be trivialized down to a f**king hashtag. I mean, there’s a ton of biphobia—people refuse to accept bisexuality as an actual sexuality,” Halsey explained to Rolling Stone. “And I’m biracial, but also white-passing, which is a unique perspective. So these kids say, like, ‘Oh, f**king tri-bi Halsey! She’ll never miss an opportunity to talk about it!’ I want to sit them down like a mom and go, ‘Six months ago you were begging for an artist that would talk about this shit! But then I do, and you say, ‘Oh, not her. Someone else.'”
In terms of her bipolar disorder, she is known for being vocal about the seriousness of mental illnesses, but also uses her platform to express how she has embraced her diagnosis and how she’s put a positive spin to it.
“I kind of just embraced the things about me that were a little odd. The thing about having bipolar disorder, for me, is that I’m really empathetic. I feel everything around me so much. I feel when I walk past a homeless person, and I feel when my friend breaks up with someone, or I feel when my mom and my dad get into a fight and my mom’s f**kin’ crying over dishes in the sink.” she told Elle magazine.
She has collaborated with Justin Bieber
She explained the whole deal with the “What Do You Mean” singer to Rolling Stone last month. “You hear, ‘Oh, Justin would never put a no-name like Halsey on his record. [Bieber’s manager] Scooter must be representing her,’ which isn’t the case at all! But they asked, and, like, pop music is f**king fascinating to me. I also learned how quickly I could go from having never met someone to having the world think I’m dating them. My mom texted me, ‘Are you dating Justin Bieber?’ I was like, ‘Mom, what the f**k? Don’t you think I would tell you?'”
“But when we performed on the Today show, it was just so real, so emotive, so evocative — two people connecting in this love song. There was a moment where I think he and I were both kind of like, ‘Are we … are we … is this real?'”
She’s a Directioner
Before she became Halsey, Ashley was a teenage song writer with a YouTube channel, a Tumblr, and an obsession with One Direction. When Harry Styles and Taylor Swift went public with their romance, Ashley made her feelings known with a parody cover to Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” which she titled “The Haylor Song”. The video went viral within the One Direction fandom, but was taken down once Ashley’s Alter Ego came into the spotlight. However, the positive response drew out another Haylor song, titled “S.O.S” which is still making its rounds across the web. Although this all took place pre-Halsey, the Badlands artist is still vocal about her love for One Direction, as she showed her support when “Drag Me Down” was released.
YO DRAG ME DOWN IS SO TIGHT
— baby h (@halsey) July 31, 2015
She was unsigned when she released her first single
In 2014, Halsey released “Ghost” up on to SoundCloud, which led to her receiving a lot of offerings from record labels that wanted her to sign with them. While she considered different offers, she had a friend pretend to be her manager until she decided to go with Astralwerks record label. In order to help publicize her, they had her release her first EP later that year, Room 93. The EP had five songs including “Ghost” and went on to be re-released on her debut album, Badlands, which was released nearly a year later, on August 28, 2015.
Her taste in music varies on a spectrum of genres
Growing up with parents who come from two distinctly different backgrounds helped Halsey appreciate all kinds of music. “Growing up my dad was listening to a ton of old school rap and my mom was listening to a ton of ’90s grunge. So I was fortunate that my parents were rockin’ MTV when I was an infant…. grungey (songwriters) like Nirvana,Alanis Morissette, The Cure, Gin Blossomsand also Tupac, Biggie, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Slick Rick — just old school bouncy hip-hop,” Halsey told MTV.
She has also mentioned how she’s a fan of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, and has befriended some of her other favorite artists such as 5 Seconds of Summer, The 1975, and The Kooks, who she’s gone on tour with in the past.
However, she doesn’t believe in placing herself in a particular category of music, she explains to Rolling Stone that “Genre in 2016 is just absolute bullshit. Half the records on hip-hop radio are pop records at their core, and half the records in f**king alternative radio are pop. And pop radio doesn’t even know what the f**k it’s doing. I end up pleading my case to alternative programmers — you’re telling me that my music is too dark for pop, too pop for alternative, and urban radio won’t touch it — so we have a record that doesn’t fit in. And what is more alternative than that?”
Her Fan-base is ever-growing
The word of mouth that Halsey has generated from fans has continued pushing her closer into the mainstream platform, beginning from her earliest days releasing music online. One of the most recognizable moments that has led to her success was her performance at last year’s SXSW Festival, which helped her become the most tweeted about artist. Her online presence is also recognizable, with 2.1 million followers on Instagram and 1.28 on Twitter to date. “I think they’ve gotten to know me so well that they believe what I’m singing. That’s more important than them relating to it.” she told USA Today about the dialogues she’s maintained with her fans. In August, she will be playing at Madison Square Garden, which sold out in less then three weeks once tickets went on sale.
She likes to stay on top of social issues
Halsey is a self-proclaimed feminist and social awareness advocate, often using her platform, music, and social media to speak up on sexism, rape-culture, body positivity, support for the LGTBQ+ community, mental illnesses, and race issues. For example she uses Badlands to spread her thoughts on these issues. Songs like “Castle” speaks out on sexism and societal expectations, and New Americana, an anthem for diversity. In a recent interview with Billboard, she spoke up about who she’s supporting for presidency and why.
“The hardest thing about politics is the disconnect between politicians and the people. Politicians being in the position where they so often have more money than the people they’re supposed to represent, or they so often have more privilege than the people they’re supposed to represent, or they have less to fear than the people they represent… Bernie Sanders, who quite literally marched next to MLK, I feel is a really important candidate to have and an important role model for people to look up to,” said the artist.