Alternative artist Halsey debuts with broad view of isolation

The 20-year-old, New Jersey-born singer-songwriter known as Halsey has done more in the past year than most artists could ever hope to achieve. She signed to a major label, appeared at SXSW, toured with top acts such as The Kooks and Imagine Dragons, and has built a loyal fan base in anticipation of her full-length debut, Badlands. The album via Astralwerks/Capitol Records follows Halsey’s 2014 EP titled, Room 93, which was a Top 20 Billboard Alternative Albums debut that calls “a collection that shows off her sweet vocals chops over music that can best be described as ethereal pop, but it’s gritty and raw too.”

The Room 93 project introduced the extent of Halsey’s creativity by translating four of the EP’s five audio tracks into music videos that give a “classic teen cinema” element to her music as a series of short films, all taking place in a hotel room. The singer Noisey compares to MS MR, Lorde, early Ellie Goulding, and “a bit of Adele” explains that while Room 93 “hovers in a dream-like state,” Badlands is “more urban, concrete, and representative of real life.” She states the EP is autobiographical and was written during a period when she was living in and out of hotel rooms and trying to have a relationship.

“When you’re trying to form a relationship with someone in a closed environment like a hotel room, the only thing that’s really affecting the relationship is the person right in front of you … which can be a good thing because it can really give you an opportunity to be yourself, or it can be a bad thing because someone’s there to call you out for being someone you’re not,” she tells Noisey. The opposing views made their way into the artist’s music, so she decided to name the EP after a hotel room that serves as the setting for the videos’ story about the room “sucking the life out of these couples.”

In an interview with Fuse magazine Halsey calls the Room 93 EP her “indulgence” with the isolated feeling of being in a hotel room. As she began traveling more, she found herself trying to keep friendships alive “in this isolated prop environment that's like a mock house.” She explains the theme of Badlands revolves around a voyeuristic view of life with a “security cam mentality,” referring to the environment as ‘Badlands’ because it feel like an isolated wasteland. “It's got the Tarantino, Sin City vibe,” she tells Fuse. “Badlands is as if you exited Room 93 to the world that it exists in.”

Halsey co-wrote most of Badlands, including new single, ‘New Americana,’ which is currently No. 21 on the Mediabase Alternative airplay chart and No. 22 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. “I've been working with Tim Larcombe who does the stuff for Lana Del Rey, the Captain Cuts guys who did Tove Lo, Walk the Moon, Grouplove … [and] I was working with Young Gud in Sweden,” notes Halsey, who begins a fall tour supporting Badlands on Sept. 6 at the Made In America Festival in Philadelphia. She heads to the U.K. for two dates (Sept. 10-11) before resuming North American concerts through mid-November, wrapping up during two nights at The Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles (Nov. 18-19).

Watch Halsey in a live performance of new hit single, ‘New Americana.’

As A Matter of Fact…

* Ashley Nicolette Frangipane was born September 29, 1994, in New Jersey. The singer-songwriter known professionally as Halsey grew up being influenced by the rap and hip-hop her father preferred as well as her mother’s ‘90s rock collection.

* Frangipane first learned to play violin, viola, and cello before moving on to acoustic guitar as a teenager. Plans to attend a four-year college were abandoned due to financial hardship, but she took songwriting and creative writing classes at a local community college.

* Frangipane began performing at acoustic shows in different cities under various stage names. She settled on Halsey as her professional moniker by creating an anagram of her real name, and in reference to a street in Brooklyn where she hung out as a teenager.

* Halsey began her career by posting cover songs on YouTube under her own name. In 2014, she posted a song online titled, ‘Ghost,’ which caught the attention of Capitol Records imprint Astralwerks. A debut EP titled Room 93 appeared in October 2014 with four of the five songs featuring an accompanying music video.

* Halsey toured with The Kooks in 2014 and appeared at South by Southwest the following year. She also supported Imagine Dragons on the group’s North American leg of its Smoke and Mirrors Tour.

* Halsey describes herself as a “blue-haired, 20-year-old girl from New Jersey,” who prides herself in being authentic. Her love of the ‘90s is reflected in her fashion and music (e.g. Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Anna Nalicik), saying the decade was “a time for female singer-songwriters to shine.”

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