Say what you want about Halsey, but if you're going to talk about her, do your research first. Born Ashley Frangipane in New Jersey, music was surely her calling; by the age of 14, she was already a skilled player of the violin, viola, and cello before moving onto the guitar. With plans to go to college as a fine art major shattered (unfortunately she couldn't afford it) she turned to community college and took creative writing classes at the same time.

Continuing to run low on funds, at 18, Frangipane began performing acoustic gigs "taking the Megabus from New Jersey to various cities to perform." One day while in the studio with a friend, they created 'Ghost' from last year's Room 93 EP, inspired by her time in hotel rooms on the road. After being streamed closed to 500,000 times on Soundcloud, she "woke up the next day and took meetings with five record labels" before settling with Astralwerks (home to deadmau5, Nervo and The Kooks). She performed under various stage names before eventually settling on Halsey, which (in case you haven't worked it out) is an anagram of her name. Soon after, following the release of the Room 93 EP, Halsey embarked on a nationwide tour named AMERICAN YOU(TH) with Young Rising Sons and Olivver The Kid. An appearance at SXSW came shortly after where she became the most mentioned artist on Twitter (ahead of Miley Cyrus)

Flash forward to the present and Halsey is on her second trip to London in a matter of months. It's probably her shortest stop thus far as she's only in town for less than 24 hours. Earlier, she made an appearance at BBC Radio where some of her fans caused something of a riot waiting outside for her. Her debut album Badlands is due to be released later this month and she's already got a sold out headline show in September. 'New Americana' (premiered by Zane Lowe on Beats 1 last month) has quickly become a firm blog favourite with its marching band-inspired drum pattern and Biggie-sampling bridge that appeals to listeners of all ages; something that's pretty difficult to do these days.

We catch up on the phone while she's driving to the airport to head back to America and talking to her, you could be forgiven for thinking she's a lot older than she is.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Have you been enjoying your time in London?

It's just been such a whirlwind. I've been here for like 12 hours and I'm already leaving, it's so bizarre. I haven't even processed yet that I'm in a different country and I've been in a different city every day. This just kind of feels like more of that to be honest but I'm excited to come back in September and properly explore, do a bit more than I've been able to in the past because the last time I was here I was here for two days, this time I'm only here for one and next time I come it's for a week-and-a-half so I can actually fo shopping, walk around and take in the city.

I absolutely love your single 'New Americana'. Could you tell me a little bit about it, how it came together and some of the inspiration behind it?

The song is, I guess a reflection of what my upbringing was like. I was brought up in a mixed race household; my dad is black, my mother is white. I grew up in an urban environment in the US, my Dad was listening to Tupac & Biggie, Run-DMC and my mom was listening to Nirvana, The Cure, Alanis Morissette... It was such an eclectic mix in my household and it's a representation of me. That influence, that combination of all these different walks of life coming together in one outlet of culture. I think what music has done in that sense in the past few years with things like MTV and the BBC, it's kind of awoken people to different walks of life that they wouldn't have otherwise really known a lot about. The first step to accepting something is understanding it so being able to help people understand where you come from through music and help people understand culture through music is really important. I think what that has done for my generation is make them a generation that's unafraid of change, unafraid of diversity and isn't scared of the unknown and isn't scared of something that's different. We're so often surrounded by this pop culture that divulges that diversity.




With that in mind, would you say you've taken those risks and that fearlessness of change and diversity and put that into your album and future music?

Yeah, for sure! I've been influenced all across the board. My record has a lot of Hip-Hop drums on it and lyrically it's very influenced by, I guess the same attitude as Alanis Morissette. This like, "take no prisoners" and "say what I think and feel" kind of mentality. Some of the songs even follow more of a rap format than a pop format, just in the sense of how they're structured. My live shows are very interesting because I perform very much like a rapper - like, I move very much like one, kind of bouncing around the stage and I use my hands a lot. I definitely have a Drake hand, if you know what I mean! [Laughs]. It's definitely influenced me and been massively helpful when I need to draw inspiration.

Have you had any more thoughts on how this will translate into your own solo shows?

Yeah, my show is about storytelling and building this story for Badlands and just about relaying this story to people the best way I can. It'll include different acts, different props and creative lighting in a way that I'm trying to create space and sound, create a landscape and create a world for people to come visit. I want them to walk away from my live show and feel like they've visited the Badlands and feel like it was a successful journey.




You mentioned having a similar attitude to Alanis Morissette in your music. I'd seen press coverage in the past comparing you to her actually as well as comparing you to some of your peers too. How do you feel about these kinds of comparisons?

I think humans by nature have to compare because you have to be able to relate something to something else to be able to understand it and feel more comfortable with it. I think comparisons are a must part of the music industry but at the same time, I can see where I and Alanis may have similar influences but I think it's a misogynistic thing sometimes. I think a lot of female artists get pitted against each other more so than other artists because I can name five male rappers off the top of my head whose styles are exactly the same and completely repetitive but instead more often than not, I see two completely different female artists being compared to each other just in the sense of creating competition between women. It just makes me sad for the interviewer that is comparing me to them because it means they haven't overcome their internal misogyny. At the same time, I'm trying to pave a lane of my own and not necessarily fill a pre-existing role.

I can definitely agree with that - you definitely see more females forced to compete against each other. I'm sure there's more similar male artists than female...

It's definitely a bizarre thing because people are more likely to compare Taylor Swift to Katy Perry than they are to compare two of the thousands of boybands or two thousands of rappers putting out very similar content. I think women, because of this need to compare are becoming more creative, more likely to take risks and more like to find a unique way of present themselves because they have to; there's a need for it, there's an obligation to be as unique as you possibly can and carve your own path as a female artist otherwise you're going to get compared and you're going to drown.

I think men don't have that problem quite as much. I think that they can put out content that sounds relatively similar to another artist and it's still accepted. There's so much room in terms of male artists but the town's not big enough for two female artists. [Laughs]




Apart from your own music, what else are you listening to?

I've been really into a couple of records lately; the Twenty One Pilots album Blurryface is pretty inspirational, I like it a lot. The Catfish & The Bottlemen record I think is incredible. I think it's so great. I'm listening to a lot of Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette as I usually am... A lot of rappers too. I really like Drake, PartyNextDoor, more recently some more underground artists like Post Malone and Flor but it's been a weird couple of months for music for me because I'm so music'd out - I've been doing my album and my brain feels like it's going to internally combust!

What would you like your musical legacy to be?

I think I'd like to be an artist that can't be described in one sentence. I think too many artists are click bait artists like "Halsey: America's Sweetheart" or "Halsey: The Bad Girl" or "Halsey: The this..." I don't want to be "Halsey: The this" I think that I'm more multi-dimensional than that, I think it's a disservice to me to sum me up into one sentence and more often than not I find myself described as "Halsey. The girl with blue hair" and it's like "REALLY? THAT'S the best you could do?!" You're so nervous about tackling my art, you're so nervous about having to summarise my personality that you reverted to commenting on my physical appearance. Like, really? That's the best you could do? So I think I would love for my legacy to be that I'm an artist that can't be summed up in one sentence.


Halsey will play two live London dates in September including a sold out show at the O2 Academy Islington. Her debut album Badlands is released on August 28.