Teen Vogue is a magazine dedicated to bringing news on fashion, beauty, celebrity style, entertainment, teen issues, videos, and more. They interviewed Halsey on April 11, 2015.
In music, the phrase "one to watch" gets tossed around a lot. But these days, with so many new ways to consume songs and so many new songs to consume, what make an artist actually worth listening to? In this weekly column, Teen Vogue's resident A&R scout Liana Weston introduces you to up-and-comers who've got something to say both on and off their record. We're not concerned with labels or throwing out descriptive niceties just to convince you that these artists are "the next big thing." It's in their music and in their own words, and all you need to do is lend a curious ear.
Each featured singer or band is matched with an amazing photographer who has generously donated their time to capture these eclectic acts, because they too believe in their potential. The ground rules for our subjects? Come as you are, no professional styling or makeup, and be ready for a raw black and white guerrilla-style shoot. The portrait is paired with an amateur snapshot shared from the depths of the musician's phone. From pop to folk and R&B to rock, these artists (much like their photographs) are unfiltered, uncensored, and unfazed.
NAME: Ashley Frangipane
BORN: Washington, New Jersey
BEFORE THE PHOTO: Despite being told that it would never be a single, Halsey self-released her fast track, "Ghost," and set the music industry ablaze. Her honest, emotional lyrics immediately connected with listeners and the song quickly garnered regular airplay on Sirius Radio, propelling her onto the iTunes alternative music charts. The fast-talking New Jersey native was signed to her label, Astralwerks, just on the popularity alone of that first track. Shortly after, she released her acclaimed debut EP, Room 93, opened for The Kooks on tour, made a splash at SXSW, and this summer, she'll be hitting the road with Imagine Dragons.
Her atmospheric sound is haunting and soulful, and her lyrics tell very personal stories—Halsey is not hiding anything. "People are so afraid to talk about real things, but they're experiences that everyone goes through," she says. Her authenticity is immediately palpable, this girl is as real as real gets. Fans have latched on to that raw vulnerability, and are clamoring for more. Every date on her first headlining tour sold out in under an hour, an impressive feat for any artist, let alone one who released her first track less than a year ago.
Her impressive talent aside, Halsey's steadfast determination to make it as an artist has taken her far. "There is an old folklore saying that you have two deaths," she says. "The first, when your physical body dies, and the second is the last time someone says your name. By making music, I'm trying postpone my second death as long as I can." We have a feeling Halsey will be a name on everyone's lips for years to come.
ON THE HORIZON: "My EP, Room 93, was all about isolation—it was based on the idea of being in a hotel room, and being totally alone with yourself or that other person. The environment around you shapes who you are. How you handle an emergency or how you react when someone is rude to you, that's you. But when you're in a hotel room and there's nothing to trigger you, you can be anyone. It's almost like an alternate universe. I'm taking that concept of isolation even further on my album, which is called Badlands. I wrote what I call an 'angry feminist record'. If you ask anyone, the last one that people think of is Alanis Morissette, and that's a problem—we haven't had one in a long time. So instead of writing a longing, sad girl album, I decided I was going to write an angry album. I'm 20, I feel like this is my last chance to write a really angsty record so I'm going to take advantage of it."
WHO IS HALSEY: "I'm not a great singer—and that's something I can own. Some of my favorite artists, like Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan, weren't amazing singers either. I'm a writer, that's where it comes from for me. And it gives me a sense of freedom because I can write what I want, I don't have to worry about being onstage and hitting these notes, I just have to sing with emotion and convey my message. So many people are concerned with being the perfect 'something.' Whether it's the perfect singer, the perfect sexy girl, or the perfect feminist. I don't want to be the perfect anything. Yes I am a feminist, but I also love and support my boyfriend. Just because I am in a relationship doesn't mean I'm not still independent and strong. If I was trying to be the perfect 'something,' I'd be watering myself down. I'm a person, I'm multi-dimensional—that's what being authentic is to me."
WHATS MAKES YOU WORTH LISTENING TO: "I feel like I'm trying to fill a role that is not necessarily female. Growing up, a lot of the artists I admired were male—I loved Mick Jagger and I loved Leonard Cohen. They were romantic, and they were cool, and they were sensual. They owned it and people loved them. Even today, men are often my favorite artists—like Van McCann from Catfish and the Bottlemen or Matt Healy from The 1975 or Luke Pritchard from The Kooks. They're forlorn and they're honest and they're dark and they're sexy. I think one of the only female artists who really embodied that was Amy Winehouse, and she is a massive inspiration to me. She was strong but she was open about her sexuality and her life—I love her intentions, and I want to further her message but in my own way. The more I'm being myself with my music, the more I'm being myself in real life, and the more I know who I am. I'm trying to do that so that girls don't have to idolize a male rock star like I did, they'll have me."