Ashley Nicolette Frangipane—better known under her stage name, Halsey—was born on September 29, 1994 in Washington, New Jersey. Her still very recent arrival into the music industry is a prime example of modern social media’s power in creating celebrities. Though she had a musical childhood, learning violin, viola, and moving on to acoustic guitar by age fourteen, Halsey didn’t take up a career in music until she came by financial struggles at age eighteen. She started playing various acoustic shows just to pay the bills, where she began to gain a following. From there, she set up a YouTube channel where she performed cover songs, as well as taking creative writing and songwriting classes at a local community college. After releasing a parody video of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” called “The Haylor Song,” she got her first big burst in popularity, which led into releasing one of her own songs, “Ghost,” on SoundCloud. This move succeeded in earning her more professional attention and she signed a record label with Astralwerks. With only one EP consisting of five songs, Halsey’s debut was an unprecedented success, as she became the most tweeted-about performer at SXSW. After her initial performances under various stage names, she finally settled on Halsey as her official moniker, which was significant to her as it is an anagram of her first name, Ashley, and the name of a street in Brooklyn she spent a lot of time on in her teens.
Halsey’s identity as a biracial, bisexual, bipolar artist is a major talking point for journalists, and her ethnic heritage in particular has had a big influence on her sound style. With her black father listening to old school rap and her white mother listening to ‘90s grunge, Halsey has listed her musical influences as everything from “Nirvana, Alanis Morissette, the Cure, [and] Gin Blossoms” to “Tupac, Biggie, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, [and] Slick Rick.” Halsey has been both praised and criticized for an eclectic, indie, pop sound, which she embraces wholeheartedly. She loves pop music and writing songs about “sex and sadness.”
So far, Halsey has only one album, Badlands, in addition to the Room 93 extended play. She has been on a “Badlands Tour,” co-headlined The American Youth Tour (2015) alongside Young Rising Sons, and has been an opening act for The Kooks, Imagine Dragons’ “Smoke and Mirrors Tour,” and The Weekend’s “The Madness” performance. She tries to stay open and vulnerable to hold onto her authenticity, and keeps in touch with her fans through Twitter, where followers can gain all sorts of insight into her life and philosophy, from the inspirational “Just remember. None of us have any idea what we're doing either. No one chooses to exist. You just do. You're gonna be okay” to the relatable “I'm so overwhelmed by how many options there are for breakfast foods. I can't make decisions at all let alone this early.”