Halsey wanted to redefine herself, and with that came changing her name.
In a new interview with Cosmopolitan, the 26-year-old singer — who was born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane —opened up about her rise to fame and why she decided to devise a stage name.
"People hear about me and they want to paint my story as a rags to riches tale, but that's not true. It was a very slow and painful process," she explained. "When I look back on it, I'm so proud of that teenage girl who dropped [my first album] Badlands, because I had all the odds against me. I didn't know anybody in the music industry. I was from New Jersey. I had no f—ing money, and there was no way I was going to college."
Halsey said she realized early on that her dreams were "so far fetched," and she had the "foresight to know that being me wasn't enough."
"I had to become somebody completely different. At the time, I felt that Ashley didn't deserve to be famous and successful because she wasn't that special, but if I made Halsey, maybe she could be," the "Be Kind" singer said.
"[Changing my name] gave me the opportunity to create a new persona that wasn’t bound by the expectations I had for myself or the limitations that others placed on me because of my upbringing or my socioeconomic situation," she added. "I created a person, and she could do everything. There was no way that Ashley was going to become a king, but I made a new name for myself and took her to paranormal, supernatural heights."
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Without those expectations and limitations, Halsey is at her truest form of self-expression, which includes a history of dramatic hair changes — keeping her fans on their toes. Last month, she made headlines after she debuted a freshly shaved head in a TikTok video using a viral sound that many creators use to debut their bold new haircuts.
“I did it 😬” Halsey captioned the clip, which she later posted on Instagram.
Halsey also recently took the stage with Kelsea Ballerini for a performance of their collaboration, "The Other Girl," at the 2020 CMT Music Awards last month. The pair dropped their duet earlier this year as part of Ballerini's self-titled album and previously performed the song on CMT Crossroads in March.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Halsey said she enjoyed bringing her and Ballerini's different approaches to music together for the track.
"The cool thing about music right now is the ability to traverse genres and bring different perspectives together. Kelsea and I had completely different upbringings and grew up on completely different music, but we found an intersection in that," she said.
"Whether it's the cross-section of hip-hop and pop-punk, or pop and country, there's amazing material coming from shared experiences and musical genre-bending," Halsey added. "It's my favorite thing about being a musician right now because I get to make whatever I want."
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