H A L S E Y. A name that undoubtedly sticks like glue once an angelic voice pummels through your eardrums, leaving cravings of healing light thrust into your black heart. Or something very close to that. Meet this New York City-based music vixen in the making, this Halsey, who willingly unravels for me in L.A., dubbing this her first exclusive editorial to date. With a remarkable breakout single, GHOST, and a hot-natured outlook on life, her launch into the music industry is turning out silky smooth. Photographer Eric Mooney took these wicked snapshots while we lounged in a house way up in the Hollywood Hills- styling by Aban Sonia – beauty looks by Lernik Grikorian.
LF: Tell me a little bit about your journey as a music artist up to your tender age of… 19 is it?
H: I was a writer before I was a musician. I was a mega-nerd. I read all the classics at a super young age and writing was something I just did every single day without even thinking twice. I guess the conflict for me was that I always wanted to read to people. I didn’t think my writing was as effective unless if came from my own voice with my own inflection. People would roll their eyes. Mostly cause they didn’t have time for that shit and they just wanted to scan it and hand it back to me with a “that was good”. One day it just clicked. If I sang it, they HAD to listen to it.
LF: That is obviously working out for you. What was the first experiences like writing then singing?
H: I wrote a lot of bad music. I still do. It’s all a learning experience. I’d be lying to you if I said I had any idea what I’m doing. I just wake up, write, and perform. This is my life. There’s no plan B!
LF: How would you describe your style of music? It’s like heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time for me, yo.
H: It’s all over the place! It all starts with an underground hip hop influence. I love tracks that seem like they’re meant for rappers. The next step instrumentally is to add some cool synths and 80’s tones. To top it off we add rad melodies with a strong pop sensibility and lyrics that are just plain honest I guess.
LF: What have been the pros and cons of being a singer in New York City? I know it can be sexy and harsh.
H: It’s pretty great actually. New York is a Mecca for artists. I grew up in New Jersey, New York City’s suburban little sister. There’s always a familiar face and it’s packed full of great resources. There’s something more authentic and intimate about live music in NYC despite all the fuss and bustling. People really put their heart out in the open out here.
LF: What was the inspiration behind your new debut single, “Ghost”?
H: Ghost was my epiphany track. As soon as it was finished a light went off in my head screaming, “This is it! This is the sound!” It’s about a girl in a relationship with someone who just isn’t mentally engaging with her anymore. He’s being a little sketchy, maybe talking to some other girls but she stays because she’s into that – the chase, the bad boy. He’s still there physically, but the connection is slipping away.
LF: Favorite lyric?
H: “I can’t find you in the body sleeping next to me.” It’s pretty personal for me.
LF: Your voice is tender and your style is edgy. As you emerge as a young artist, how do you want your audience to perceive your hybrid?
H: I’m really into androgyny I suppose. My voice is pretty feminine. Everything about me is pretty soft, really. But I think the reason people interpret me as edgy is because I’m honest and uninhibited. I guess that isn’t a common thing for females. There’s something masculine in the way I get down to the gritty details of things that aren’t so glamorous. Every one wants to talk about the late night but no one wants to admit to the brutal honesty of the morning after when the make up is rubbed away and your mouth tastes like gross whiskey and fermenting tobacco. I think that’s where you find your edge.
LF: Where do you see yourself and your career 5 years from now?
H: Who knows. The “plan” changes everyday when new opportunities and bright ideas come my way… OR when things throw a wrench in the middle of my destiny. You learn to work with what comes to you. In 5 years I just want to be making cool music and living a life that inspires me to write.
LF: Well put. Who are your top 3 music inspirations?
H: Wow only three?! Lots of things inspire me. The 1975 are a massive influence because they offer that honesty I crave and execute. Matty Healy is a friend of mine and he has taught me a lot about writing and the artistic experience. Another thing that usually motivates me is the soundtrack to the movie “Drive”. It practically screams late night, street lights, long drive. My fans and listeners inspire me too. There were so many albums and movies and T.V. shows that were instrumental in my adolescence. Records I put on that just made me lay back and feel cool and want to scream and love my life. Like I was a part of something cool. That’s the collective feel I want to bring for my fans. Something that makes them feel badass and full of life.
LF: Your favorite quote to live by is:
H: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash” – Leonard Cohen
LF: How FAST do you live?
H: I guess pretty fast. Success over sleep, you know?