If you're yet to have heard of singer Halsey (pronounced Hall-see, FYI), here are some things that'll make you want to;
1. She has 772,000 followers on Twitter and 917,000 on Instagram.
2. She was the most-tweeted about person at this year’s SXSW, surpassing even our October cover star Miley Cyrus.
3. She is part of a new exciting generation of Tumblr pop stars.
However she is a bit tired of talking about how many followers she has on social media. ‘When I first started doing interviews, everyone was always like, ‘You have so many Twitter followers’ and I’d be like, yeah but I make music too. They’d look at me and say it again: ‘But you have SO many Twitter followers’. she says, rolling her eyes.
And the truth is there’s a lot more to Halsey, 20, than her social media stats; her album BADLANDS debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200, and in the top 10 in the UK, oh, and Justin Bieber just tweeted saying he was a fan.
I meet Halsey (born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane) at the Montcalm Hotel, in Central London. Having flown in from LA earlier in the week, she's spent the last few days exploring East London. Dressed in all black except for shock of neon hair, she was preparing for her first international shows here in London, and understandably she’s a bit nervous.
‘I haven’t been nervous about a show in a while,’ she says. ‘We were hoping to sell like, what, 250 tickets?’ And instead Halsey’s London shows sold out – more than 2,000 tickets in all, in less than five minutes. ‘No one had ever seen anything like it,’ she says.
Halsey’s fans are a force - the best place to go to witness the sheer force of her fandom is Tumblr, where a quick search brings up thousands and thousands of gushing posts, pictures, GIFs, quotes, videos, fan artwork and dedications.
In 2015, Tumblr-famous is the new Myspace-famous, and Halsey is one of a few artists to see that online popularity manifest in real life. ‘It’s really exciting to see all those people that exist in numbers online translate into tickets, and then into faces, handshakes, pictures, stories,’ she says. ‘It makes it so much more rewarding for me.’BADLANDS, Halsey’s new album, is what she calls ‘anti-pop’. I ask what that means? ‘It’s pop music, but something is not quite right.’ She sings loudly and proudly about ‘relationships, relationships with myself, my family, mental illnesses’. Songs that make her own issues resonate with thousands of people, not least the Tumblr community, a refuge for the anxious, the confused and the angry.
One of the biggest talking points about her career for far has been her openly talking about being bi-sexual and suffering from bi-polar disorder; ‘The issue with being of such unique make-up is that it does become very clickbaity. When my record was coming out, there were 50 articles online at any given moment about me being half black, or bi-sexual or suffering from mental illnesses – and not a lot about my album,’ she says. ‘It’s clickbait. It’s topical to talk about sexuality, race and mental health, so they put it in their headlines and people will click on it.’
‘The album came out, and every article was ‘Halsey proves she has the staying power that we weren’t sure if she had’. They brought me to tears, because that’s what I wanted to hear. I want to be treated like a musician.’
A musician she is, watch out for Halsey - she's coming up.
TUMBLR FAMOUS MUSIC TO WATCH
Music inspired by video game music, Mark Redito takes the genre to another level of cool.
Fuzzy anthems recorded in a basement bedroom made for clinging to the last days of summer.
Words: Kate Ng