Produced by Lido, the Badlands singer has often been compared to the likes of Lorde, Katy Perry (wtf) and Lana Del Rey.
LEA WEATHERBY: Halsey is not only an anagram for your name, but it's also the name of a street you lived on in Brooklyn, New York. What about the East Coast inspires you and your writing?
HALSEY: I love how it's constantly evolving. There's so much life, you're constantly engaged, and I think I need that, but that's why the West Coast is good for me right now. It's almost like the detox phase where I'm not confronted by so much life and movement all around me. It's helpful because touring can get overwhelming, cognitively, and it's tremendously stimulating at the same time. I just got off a two-month tour with Imagine Dragons and we saw the whole country. It's great doing an arena thing, performing for 20,000 people a night. I truly had moments like, "Holy shit, is this happening?"
WEATHERBY: You're able to write your songs in 20 minutes? What's that process like?
HALSEY: It usually takes me 20 to 90 minutes to write a song because once I start, I don't stop. If I start writing a song and you try to have a conversation with me, you're a bad person. [laughs] I like when it's really organic, so I try to knock it out in one shot. Some of these songs on the new record just kind of spilled out of me and those are the ones I keep. The ones that people are pulling apart and saying, "You should do this and you should do that," those songs never make the record because they're not real.
WEATHERBY: Oftentimes you can feel when something is forced.
HALSEY: Yeah, you can tell if there's magic in something. When you start it, you want to finish it and you want it to be perfect. If you're not inspired and you're working hard to pull inspiration from somewhere and make a song something it's not, then it's very contrived and I don't like to write music that's contrived. As a songwriter, pop music really is a love and a joy and a science, and I feel like a lot of people look at pop music with a very formulaic perspective in numbers and patterns, but an outsider would think that the process is very natural. It is, but there are a lot of times where people treat it like a sport. There are tricks you can pull, different combinations that make something better. I don't really think I approach it that way, but I definitely have a love for the science that is pop song writing.
WEATHERBY: You previously wrote and released the song "Ghost," which led you to sudden and overwhelming recognition. What was that experience like?
HALSEY: We got that song out really quickly, and I wasn't in bands, I didn't have any representation, and I had no interest in being a singer. It was just a cool song and I had some friends who were like, "If you put this up and it gets popular, you can make a quick thousand bucks." After I put "Ghost" up online, that night I was heard by five record companies. I called my friend Anthony and I said, "Holy shit I'm freaking out, can you come to the city and pretend to be my manager?" He was like, "Yeah I can pretend to be your manager!" That was the moment for me, sitting on this couch and having people say, "You have a gift for this." That's when all the pieces of the puzzle came together and it dawned on me that it wasn't about making $1,000; it was about what I was supposed to do. I had 24 hours to decide and the decision was very easy to make. From that day on I've been an artist. I didn't have to become one, I just needed someone to show me the signs.
WEATHERBY: What is the concept behind the album's title and what does it mean to you?
HALSEY: Badlands spawned out of my fascination with the concept of isolation in hotel rooms and this idea of being in a place where thousands of people have temporarily lived before you. It's such a bizarre thing because in a hotel room, there's nothing to challenge you, there's nothing to provoke you or trigger you to see who this person in front of you really is. I got so obsessed with this parallel universe, this dystopian, post-apocalyptic civilization, and I started thinking, "What do the people here look like? What do the colors look like? What's its history?"
Halfway through writing this record, it dawned on me that this entire thing was a metaphor for what's in my head. There's a booming, rotating, never sleeping city in the center of my brain and no body can come in and I can't escape. I have a strange sense of pride that my brain works that way, but I'm also terrified of what would happen if I ever tried to think in another way. That realization was really heavy for me but also strangely therapeutic in terms of coping with my own isolation and the way my life was changing.
WEATHERBY: It always feels good to explore something that challenges you, but it can be as emotionally taxing as it is empowering. How are you feeling about the upcoming release?
HALSEY: I'm excited. I think I'm in such a beautiful position right now with everything. The thing about being an artist is that you evolve so quickly, you grow, you learn, you change, you find yourself hating work that you made months prior. That's the hard part about making an album, but every couple days I fall asleep listening to my album front to back and I lay there feeling so proud of what I did. I love every song on this album and I did everything in my power to achieve that. I think if I didn't try that hard and people didn't like it, then I would find myself in the fetal position in my house. [laughs] But if people don't like it, then all I have to do is put my hands up in the air and say, "Okay, well that's the best that I could do." If you don't like it, then that means it wasn't right for you and that you wanted it to be something that it's not, because I made it exactly what it was supposed to be.
read the whole thing @ the src
Give Badlands a listen tbh, and we need a Halsey tag