If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, Halsey’s new album made in collaboration with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails, is out today. Ahead of that, though, Halsey spoke with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe about what it was like working with the pair, and the singer shared a story about Reznor trying to push her outside of her creative comfort zone.
“Trent said something to me that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life, where he was like, ‘Hey, the record is great how it is.’ He was like, ‘So you could not do this with us and put it out. Or, the way a lot of modern music is right now is it informs the listener not to pay attention. It says, ‘This song is safe.’ You can put it on a playlist. You can listen to it in a car. You can play it on a party, and it’s not going to f*ck up the vibe. It blends in with everything else. It’s a mood. It’s chill. But it informs you not to pay attention.’ He was like, ‘Your songs, I think, deserve better than that, and I think that they should make people pay attention to what you’re saying. So I’m going to make some really weird choices.’
I was like, ‘Please make weird choices. Make the weirdest choices.’ So he sent back two songs at first, him and Atticus, and they told me later on, they were like, ‘There’s no way she’s going…’ And Trent and Atticus told me later, they were like, ‘As soon as you were like, ‘These are amazing,” they were like, ‘All right, it’s go time. She wants to play.’ You know what I mean? Like, she wants to play. They wanted to know if I was willing to take the risk, and I was. I was willing to take the risk, and I also felt like I had earned it, at that point, to be able to, where it’s like, I feel like every artist on their fourth, fifth, whatever album, especially pop artists, are always like, ‘I really want to do something experimental.'”
She also noted that before working with Reznor, he already had an influence on her music, saying, “I’ve wanted to work with Trent for years. When I was making Badlands, that language and that thesis of song-making, that theology of song-making, was in every song on the record. It was like, you know, those industrial drums. You can hear it on ‘Castle,’ on the first track. It’s that kind of like stripped bare, minimalist, industrial sound, and I abandoned it afterwards.”