Halsey Reveals Their Songwriting Secret: ‘The More I Hate Myself, the Better the Lyrics Get’

Halsey is a highly successful and prolific singer/songwriter. In 2021 alone, Halsey had their first child, launched a cosmetics company, released a new album, created an accompanying film, and appeared on Saturday Night Live for the fifth time.

The “Without Me” singer recently shared the secret to writing successful songs that others can relate to. Here’s what they said and how If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power producers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross responded.

Halsey performs for "Saturday Night Live" in a futuristic, all-black outfit.
Halsey | Rosalind O’Connor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Halsey collaborated with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on their latest album

Halsey, whose real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, released her fourth studio album on Aug. 27, 2021. If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is all about “the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth,” according to Halsey’s July 7 Instagram post revealing the album cover art. 

The “Bad at Love” singer wrote a letter to Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross asking them to produce the album. The record marks a sonic departure from Halsey’s usual pop style.

The musician also released an iMax movie with the same name that played at iMax theaters worldwide. The film is now available for streaming on HBO Max. 

The ‘You Should Be Sad’ singer shared the secret to writing their songs

In an Oct. 2021 interview with Billboard, Halsey shared that they think self-loathing makes their music better.

The more I hate myself, the better the lyrics get,” Halsey said. “That’s half a joke. I think [it helps] having a story to tell and not just sitting in a room and being like, ‘Let’s write a song today. What’s it going to be about? Breakups?’

“For me with this record, I was going through one of the most transformative things that a human being can possibly experience: emotionally, physically, socially, spiritually, whatever. I was pregnant. And I was really happy, but I was also super scared and super anxious and paranoid. As much as my days were filled with joy and dreams of a little naked baby on a cotton cloud, they were also full of terror that something was going to go wrong and that my body didn’t feel like mine anymore.”

Trent Reznor added, “Halsey’s songs seem to come from a place of pain or catharsis. It has an authenticity to it that you can pick up on. 

“We felt our job in this record was simply to put a nice frame around it so that it helps achieve that message. It wasn’t creating the message; it wasn’t even altering the message: It was just hanging it on the right wall with the right light on it so that you would pay attention to it.”

Halsey performs on "Saturday Night Live" in a black outfit.
Halsey | Rosalind O’Connor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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‘Nine Inch Nails’ fans might have gotten a new album if it weren’t for Halsey

In the same interview, Reznor revealed that Nine Inch Nails fans might have gotten a new record to listen to if he and Ross hadn’t been busy working on producing Halsey’s album. 

“We’d just finished a lot of score work in a period of a year and a half, and we’d been kind of talking about working on Nine Inch Nails and also were kind of freaked out by the pandemic and not feeling incredibly creative,” Reznor shared. “And I think I was eager for anything to keep me from having to write songs myself.”

Halsey quickly defended herself, saying, “Don’t tell them that! Everyone’s going to be mad at me – ‘We could’ve gotten a Nine Inch Nails album?!’”