Halsey Sent Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross a Letter Asking Them to Work on ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’

On Aug. 27, Halsey released her fourth studio album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. Academy Award winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross produced the album. During the moderated conversation with Halsey, Reznor, and Ross, it was revealed that Halsey convinced Reznor and Ross to work on If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power by sending the Nine Inch Nails members a letter.

Halsey holds a microphone at 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2019
Halsey | Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Halsey began working on ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ on their own

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power follows Halsey’s experience with pregnancy and motherhood. Shortly after the album dropped, Lizzy Goodman moderated a discussion between Halsey, Reznor, and Ross at Capitol Studios.

During the talk, the singer-songwriter shared how she began working on the concept album.

“Last summer, right around June or July I think, kind of like peak stay at home order, I started working on the record. And I think the first song that I wrote was ‘Lilith,'” Halsey said, referencing a song on If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.

The singer continued, “And it was kind of like, it just kind of speedballed. Where I was just like spilling my guts and being like ‘I’m a piece of s**t.'”

Halsey sent a letter to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

While Halsey shared the backstory of how she began writing the album during the moderated conversation, Reznor and Ross also revealed how they became included on the project.

“Right around that time, we got an incredibly eloquent letter from Halsey,” Reznor said. “It was flattering, and it was just nice to receive. But it also signified authenticity.”

He continued, “And it was intriguing, you know? The ask was, to the effect, ‘I’m telling a story about the following things. It means a lot to me. I really want to make this powerful and have impact, and tell this story. Could you help or could you weigh in on any level of what might help deliver that?'”


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Reznor acknowledged it would have been “easier to say no” to working on If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. However, Reznor and Ross asked Halsey to send over some tracks from the album.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross decided to work on the album

After Reznor and Ross asked her for music, Halsey sent the musicians four songs from If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.

“When I heard the tracks I could hear something in there that felt like, knowing what you’d just written to us, it made sense. But I didn’t feel like it delivered what you were asking for,” Reznor told Halsey during the moderated conversation.

Over the course of a week, Reznor and Ross decided to “experiment” and created music surrounding Halsey’s vocals on the four tracks to send back to the singer.

The rest is history, and the three decided to collaborate together on the album.