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Halsey Talks 'Manic' & Her Ever-Changing Musical Style at Intimate Grammy Museum Performance

Halsey
Rebecca Sapp/WireImage for The Recording Academy

Halsey attends An Evening With Halsey at the Grammy Museum on Sept. 23, 2019 in Los Angeles.

Halsey's had quite the year. At the top of 2019, her wildly vulnerable "Without Me" became her first solo chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100. The rawness (and success) kept pouring out, as the star unveiled the feminist angst single, "Nightmare," a few months later, followed by the heartbreaking "Graveyard." 

On top of it all, she announced that her third album, Manic, would be arriving sometime next year. At an intimate "Evening With Halsey" at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday night (Sept. 23), the 24-year-old talked about how this upcoming album is a nod to her true self, the New Jersey native Ashley Nicolette Frangipane.

"The reason this album ended up becoming what it is, which is a very, very personal conversation," she explained. "It’s part of the reason I’ve been using a lot of Ashley talk in this album, because it does feel very much like a look behind the curtain in a way. A curtain I never intended to put up but it’s just kind of there, because I was young and scared of showing—I didn’t know who I was deeply so it was irresponsible for me to tell the whole world, ‘This is who I am!’ And the world is like, ‘You’re 21, no it’s not.’ I’m going to be 25 in a couple of days, which is terrifying because I still feel 19."

"I think I feel more comfortable and have more agency to say to the world, ‘This is the real me,"’ she continued. "I’m sure on album four I’ll think I’m full of s---, but hopefully, the world is forgiving enough to let me evolve and let me change, and get to show you guys a new version of me every couple of years."

Growth was a major topic throughout the evening, and Halsey's calm articulation of coming to terms with herself was genuine as she explained how Manic quickly turned from an intention to make an "angry album" into something quite the opposite. "I tried to be angry, and I was so calm and so happy and proud, and felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I sat down to make a list of things I didn’t like about myself because I thought it would help me make an angry album, and I wrote it and I cried. I read it and let some of my friends read it, and after writing it, I couldn’t find any anger at myself, I just found forgiveness. I looked at the list and said, some of these things are true, some are not. You may feel that way about yourself, but it’s okay, you’re going to be okay."

"I sat down to make the album, and I felt like I could do so in a way that wasn’t hindered by shame or fear or embarrassment or anger, I just felt acceptance," she added. "I felt like I dug through every corner of myself and I had seen all the bad parts and I accepted them for what they were. I sat down and instead of making an angry album, I just went (sigh). And it felt so good."

The evening came to a close with a stripped-down performance of a handful of tunes, including her recent singles along with throwback favorites "Bad at Love," "100 Letters" and "Colors." Barefoot and belting the melodies without the mass production of an arena show, the songstress delivered a performance that felt like the physical embodiment of letting Halsey take a seat for a second, and allowing Ashley to do the talking.

2020 Grammy Awards