While shooting her Rolling Stone 2019 Hot Issue cover, Halsey sits down for an instalment of “The First Time” to describe the evolution of her artistry and recall the first time she changed her appearance to empower herself.
Watch: Halsey chats to Rolling Stone
Central to an artist’s origin story is where they got their stage name from, and for Halsey that inspiration traces back to 2015, when she was returning home from an Ed Sheeran concert on the L train. “I’d been living just off the Halsey stop in Brooklyn and the word has always had a very important meaning to me, but I couldn’t really figure out why”, she says. “Until one day I realised that Halsey and my real name, Ashley, are comprised of all the same letters, so it’s an anagram.”
The 25-year-old artist tells of the profound impact Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had on her, and how Kate Winslet’s character in the 2004 film helped Halsey shape her own personality. “I basically built my whole personality off of Clementine,” she explains. “It was really exciting for me to see a woman on film who was proud and liberated in her own weirdness and in her own non-polite, non-political, non-conformative, inconvenient self.”
Halsey remembers coming home from middle school with a box of hair dye, and how she begged her mother at the age of fifteen to let her get what became her first very tattoo. “She said ‘You can’t do that,’ and I was like, ‘Why not? You have them.’” The conversation led to Halsey and her mother getting matching tattoos of anchors and each other’s initials.
Watch the video below to learn more about Halsey’s evolution, some of the very first albums she remembers playing on repeat, and what it was like the first time she heard herself on the radio