Halsey isn't bossy, she's a boss

Author
Siena Yates,
Section
Celebrity,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 9 August 2017, 3:16PM

"One of the most ironic things I ever read about myself was like; 'Halsey was made in a lab'," the cult pop singer says with a roll of her eyes.

"I just laughed at that because I have the most control."

That much is obvious, particularly when you sit down with the her and realise exactly why she gained a reputation for taking no nonsense, suffering no fools and doing things her own way.

Capitol Records may put out her music but Halsey, whose real name is Ashley Frangipane, largely takes care of everything else - including her own publicity, styling, and everything else that comes with stardom.

"They just left me alone, like 'whatever you're doing is working and you're willing to do it, so just keep doing it".

And it kept working. She had a platinum album, toured the world and played Madison Square Garden all without having ever had a radio hit from her first album Badlands. And last week, she was here playing an intimate showcase for hundreds of ecstatic fans who rallied around her halfway across the world.

Even during our interview, when the New Zealand label publicist hovers nearby to wrap us up, she politely - but with no room for argument - tells him to leave us until she absolutely has to go.

She's not someone who takes kindly to being told what to do. Especially when a sit-down interview isn't her usual form of publicity; that ranges from organising scavenger hunts in major cities to announcing a tour by leaving a specially made newspaper on fans' doorsteps.

"It's escapism. As a kid, I really dove into fantasy worlds like Harry Potter - it was such a rich universe with so many details and there was nothing you wanted to know about that universe that you couldn't find the answers to. And I kind of want my world to feel the same," she says.

Frangipane has also become an icon in the LGBT community after being open about being bisexual and fighting for visibility and representation.

"If you're a member of the LGBT community and you want artists representing you, you find yourself digging through the counterculture and its not fair that you don't get to have the same pop music experience, because you deserve to," she says.

But it hasn't been an easy road; her sexuality is often a focus, instead of her music.

Media commentators have questioned everything from her shaved head to her lack of public relationships with women, and in an interview she was once asked if she mentally separated her exes into men and women.

"Those are the moments where I'm on the phone like, 'how do I be nice about this?' And that's why I think I get a bad rap sometimes because sometimes I won't be f***ing nice ... because I call them out for being a f***ing dick on the phone.

"I think I'm expected to be well behaved in that way [but] if you're going to be disrespectful, I'm going to call you out on it."

It's a far cry from when Frangipane was 19, releasing her first album, wanting people to like her and "desperate to make the world understand me".

With her latest album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, she's given up on that kind of idealism and won over fans with her "no bullshit" approach.

"I've done enough and said enough ... it's either, people get me now or they don't, and if they don't they're never going to, so I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing."

And luckily for Kiwi fans, that includes returning to our shores for a proper tour, with the official announcement coming not via this article, but her social media accounts - because it's all for the fans.

"I cannot think of anything I love more in this world than being on tour. It's like no matter what happened to me today, I get to look a couple thousand people in the face who know me, know my story and have felt the same way that I've felt."

LOWDOWN: Who: Halsey What: Hopeless Fountain Kingdom When: Out now