The Nine Inch Nails frontman co-produced the record, which is out today (August 27), with his regular collaborator Atticus Ross.
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Speaking to Apple Music‘s Zane Lowe in a new interview about ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’, which will be broadcast in full on Monday (August 30), Halsey spoke about “wanting to work with Trent for years”.
“I wanted really [a] cinematic sort of… not horror specifically, but kind of just really unsettling production,” Halsey said. “It’s something I wanted. Anthony, my manager, knew that it’s something I wanted and I had abandoned it because I was like, ‘I’m not cool enough. They’ll never do it. I’m not interesting enough. Like, I’m not even going to ask.'”
Recalling their early meetings about the album, Halsey said that Reznor’s initial verdict was that “the record is great how it is” and he even suggested that he and Ross might not need to get involved.
“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 at a party and it’s not going to fuck up the vibe. It blends in with everything else. It’s a mood. It’s chill. But it informs you not to pay attention.’
“[Reznor continued:] ‘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.’ And I was like, please make weird choices. Make the weirdest choices.”
Halsey then recalled how Reznor and Ross initially sent back two tracks which were “amazing”.
“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,'” Halsey said. “You know what I mean? Like, ‘she wants to play’. And I understand it, you know?
“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. I feel like every artist on their fourth, fifth, whatever album, especially pop artists, are always like, ‘I really want to do something experimental.'”
‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ features contributions from Dave Grohl, Lindsey Buckingham, Pino Palladino and more.