Tattoo Stories with Halsey: Family Ink, Matching Fan Tattoos & More
By Nicole Mastrogiannis
September 11, 2015
Like her song says, Halsey is the "New Americana." Everyone is talking about the seriously talented, up-and-coming indie pop musician, real name Ashley Frangipane, and if you liked her song "New Americana," there is plenty more where that came from.
Halsey recently released her debut album Badlands, which she describes to iHeartRadio as a concept album, and has a very elaborate story behind it. Badlands features eleven amazing songs, including "New Americana," and "Ghost" — which is the song that gained her a lot of attention in 2014. The New Jersey native tells iHeartRadio of the story behind Bandlands:
"Badlands is this dystopian universe. It's a post apocalyptic society. It's a massive city, like a booming metropolis. It's surrounded by a desert wasteland, and what the wasteland does is it keeps the people of Badlands captive there. But it also keeps anyone else from coming in. I was inspired by a ton of different books and a ton of different movies. I was inspired by Lost in Translation, Blade Runner. I was inspired by, Apocalypse Now, anything Quentin Tarantino. And also, books likeHoles, Lord of the Flies, those post-Apocalyptic ideas. I started working on this idea of Badlands and it became, like, what are the people like? Are they racially ambiguous? What do they wear? What is everything like? And, what are the buildings made of? What is the government like? Is it corrupt? Is it dark? And it is. It's an evil place. And the thing is, when you come from the Badlands, you don't know anything else. So, you're proud of being from there. I started writing songs that come from that post-Apocalyptic dark mentality. And it dawns on me that the whole thing is a metaphor. It's a metaphor for a mental state. So I have been living in the mental Badlands for years and it's this part in the center of my brain that is this booming city. It's surrounded by unexplored territory. I can't leave, and no one else can come in. I suspect something's wrong, but it's all I have ever known. I can't change it. So it dawned on me that this whole dystopian post-apocalyptic world is really just a defense mechanism, it was me."
She adds, "It's a metaphor for a mental state, this idea that you're trapped somewhere and you can't escape, but eventually I do. And I think that is the most important part of it being a coming of age record. It's this idea of being able to leave the mental Badlands, and I hope that is inspirational for my fans."
If you're a Halsey fan, then you've definitely noticed all of the singers awesome tattoos. And she recently opened up about all of the stories behind her ink. Read on below.
On her first tattoo: an anchor on her right foot with her mom's initials
"The first tattoo I ever got was on my foot. It's an anchor, and it has my mom's initials in it, and she has the same one. We got them together. I was really young to have a tattoo, but my mom is covered in them. She's got a full sleeve. She has her tongue pierced. She's super, super cool, really beautiful, and always had tattoos when I was growing up. So looking up to her, I always saw it as an artistic thing. My mom's really artistic and just really, really badass. So I begged her, and begged her, and begged her to let me get a tattoo, and she took me to get one as almost like a fear tactic. She was like 'Yeah, let's go get anchors on our feet.' And what I didn't know is the foot is one of the most painful spots you can get a tattoo. So she took me to get a tattoo on my foot hoping that it would deter me from getting more because of how bad it would hurt, and it totally backfired on her. It just absolutely backfired. I was like 'This is great! I want to get more!' I think she just thought it [the anchor] was a cute symbolic thing. You know how moms are. My mom was like 'We anchor each other.' I was like 'That's beautiful, Mom. Just let me get a tattoo. I don't care what it is. I just want to be cool.'"
On the roses tattoo located on her left shoulder:
"On my 16th birthday, I went back and I got the roses on my shoulder. They're not filled in, and I've had them unfilled for five years. And one thing I'm getting very sick of is the four times a day someone says to me 'I love your tattoo. Are you going to get it filled in?' No. I like it like this. I just thought they were really pretty. I had so many ideas for tattoos that I wanted that had such a significant meaning. One tattoo that I was planning on getting had a really significant meaning, and then that person in my life changed. My relationship with that person changed, and it dawned on me, how dumb it can be to get a tattoo of something that you think is going to last forever, because it might not, but the tattoo will. And I think in spirit of that, I went and got something that meant absolutely nothing, and just looked beautiful. It's still one of my favorite tattoos because I'll never dislike it. It just is cool-looking. It's really simple. I think it's really elegant."
On the dagger tattoo with the number 13 on it located on her right thigh:
"I got it in remembrance of a friend that passed away; this one was also when I was 16. I got it with a fake ID. It's awful. I got it in some back alley tattoo shop in Strasburg, Pennsylvania — no joke. It's all scarred and gross. I also went to a friend's senior prom afterwards. And when you're from Jersey, when you go to senior prom, you go down to the beach, you can go down the shore. The seaside. It's the thing, which is super embarrassing, and I could never say [it] in any interview but in this one, which is hilarious because a lot of people reading this are going to know exactly what I'm talking about. We were on the shore, and I had just gotten this tattoo, and I was running on the beach, and rolling around in the sand, and in the water, and came out, and realized the whole thing was just bleeding. I had sand stuck in it, and I was like 'this is why you're supposed to be a grownup when you get a tattoo.' It's a dagger. It's a traditional flash tattoo, and it's so gross now, but I kind of love that about it. It's pink and turquoise because the friend that passed away had pink and turquoise hair for years, and it was his identifier. I thought it was too cool. This tattoo is traditionally supposed to be done in yellow and red, but I picked these colors instead. The 13 is for January 3rd [1/3], and also an unlucky number. Also, I got it on Friday the 13th."
On the Mythosaur Skull on her left forearm:
"It's a Mandalorian emblem and it's a deep cut Star Wars reference. It's one of the cooler tattoos that I have because it's a Mythosaur skull and it's a Mandalorian emblem. It's the insignia that Boba Fett wears on his helmet. It's a bounty. It's a symbol of bounty hunters, and it kind of represents badass-ness, but it's a very deep cut Star Wars reference. People who really, really love Star Wars as much as me will come up to me, and be like 'Is that a Mandalorian emblem?' And I'm like 'Yes.' Because casual Star Wars fans wouldn't know what this is, and I get asked about it all the time - sometimes by people who tell me they love Star Wars. I actually had a guy ask me what it was once who had a storm trooper tattooed on him, and I was like 'Aw, dude, you're a disappointment.'"
On the 511 tattoo on her right arm:
"This is my little brother's birthday - 5/11. May 11th. I have two little brothers. One's 17 and one's 10, and when I got this one and came home, my 10-year-old brother was devastated that I didn't get his birthday. So I'm keeping [my other] elbow clean so I can go back and get his. I just keep forgetting because it's on the back of my elbow, so I forget this one is there. It also used to be my password to stuff, and it occurred to me how awful it was that I was walking around with my password to everything literally tattooed on my body."
On the quote on her right forearm:
"This one I got on Venice Beach right after I signed my record deal. It says 'These violent delights have violent ends.' This tattoo is a little heavy, and a little heady to talk about, but I got it as a reminder to myself to sort of pace myself. Like violent delights having violent ends, it's a Shakespeare quote from Romeo and Juliet, which is incredibly cliché, but I'm a lover of literature so it makes sense for me. But pretty much what it means is anything you do violently, will end violently. And it doesn't mean physical violence, it more refers to excess. It's like if you drink violently, it will end violently. If you love violently, it will end violently. If you do anything violently, like with too much too muchness, it's going to end poorly for you. So, it's kind of entering a world that was a whole new frontier for me, where I was being confronted with tons of new things, and tons of temptation. And then it's just kind of a reminder to keep my head in the game. This is about the music, and not all the glittery things that come with it. It's one of my favorite [tattoos]."
On the upside down horseshoe tattoo on her right arm:
"I got this one done by a guy named Joshua Marks who's a pretty well-known tattoo artist. I just begged him, and begged him, and begged him to let me come in and get a tattoo. I was sending him emails at midnight. He let me come in the next day. In tattoo culture, you're not supposed to tattoo a horseshoe upside down because it means all the luck is spilling out, so it's actually bad luck. I got an upside down horseshoe to signify that I don't need luck. I work really, really hard, and I believe in the stars aligning, but I don't believe that anything happens to anyone based out of sheer luck. I believe people work really hard, and they manifest what they want, and what they need, and what they're hopeful for, and that's what this is — a reminder. The whole joke with the tattoo artist, [is that] he tattoos upside down horseshoes a lot. It's kind of his thing. He's the only guy that'll do it. We're all part of the no luck club. And I think that's funny."
On her Serendipity tattoo located on her right shoulder:
"I got this one with my mom as well; it's the serendipity. Serendipity is a word that means, 'a happy accident.' Which is I think how my mom explains my existence, as a happy accident, because she was 19 when she got pregnant with me, and it was definitely an accident. But one that I think she considers a happy one. My mom is really sweet, and she always tells me [that] she'll never, ever, ever regret the decisions that she made when she was really young. She looks at her family now, and I have two brothers, and me, and my father, who she's still with after all this time, and the house, and all the things that we've done, and all the places we've gone, she always says that all of that is because of that one moment where she got pregnant with me — she wouldn't have this whole family, this whole life. That mentality is super cool that she has, and I think it's influenced me big time as well because it's made me look at some of the accidents in my life, and all the things that have culminated from it. I was going through a really rough time when I left my parents' house, and I was not living anywhere, and I was couch surfing, sleeping on benches, not sleeping just for the sake of being too scared to sleep, staying up for days. I had a duffle bag, and I was feeling really miserable. It felt like I was in a place of misfortune. And then one night I got invited to a hotel party, and I thought to myself, 'This is awesome. There'll be a bed there. It's a hotel.' So I went not really knowing anyone, and that was the night that I met my manager, Anthony. So I would not be here without that, which I think is really cool. And me stumbling upon that party is definitely a happy accident and serendipity."
On the XXX tattoo on her right hand:
"They mean multiple things. My grandma used to do x's for my brothers and I, so it's me and my two brothers. But it kind of turned into a different meaning, because it almost means like a parental advisory, like it's an explicit thing, which is really funny because I've found many people consider me to be incredibly explicit when I don't realize that I am. So it's almost like a joke; like I myself have a parental advisory label on me, on my body."
On the 17 tattoo on her right knuckles:
"It's my lucky number. My fans know it. It's on my merch, it's in their usernames on Twitter. Seventeen just means something to us. I didn't know it at the time, but 17 was the year for me where I became Halsey. I just didn't know the name yet."
On the Mars tattoo on her left arm:
"This is Mars and I got it with a friend of mine that I met on tour. In the pop world, I guess is the expression you would use, things can be incredibly business-y. And the one cool thing about my crew and I is we all come from a Warped Tour background. So we all come from sleeping in a van, and traveling, and being hungry, and dirty, and not showering, and everyone works really, really hard, and everyone's best friends. I was playing arenas with Imagine Dragons with a bunch of kids who were trading meal tickets for beers on Warped Tour. We all have a really cool mentality. One of the mentalities that comes from that is getting tour tattoos. So, you get tattoos with your tour friends; your friends you only see once a year when you're on tour, until the next tour comes around. I got Mars because I met a guy on tour that I became really good friends with, and his birthday is on my half birthday, and I'm a Libra. So my ruling planet is Venus, and his ruling planet is Mars, which are also opposites. So it's like opposite birthdays, opposite signs, technically opposite personalities in astrology, but complete opposites, and we were really good friends. So I got Mars, and he got Venus. We got each other's planets."
On the matchstick tattoo on her left arm:
"This one is probably one of my coolest tattoos I have. It's a matchstick, and I'm not the only person that has it. There are three other girls in the world that have it, and they're all fans of mine. I selected them randomly on Twitter and brought them to go get matching tattoos with me. It was a cool thing because it was from my Vevo Live series, and we were talking about what we could do with fans, and it was like, go out for ice cream, we can go get coffee — all these boring things. None of that is me. And the cool thing about my fans is that almost all of them are the same age as me. I'm 20, all my fans are between the ages of 16 and 25. That's awesome because they're people that if I met on a random day, I'll probably be friends with. So I selected these girls, and we all went and we all got matching tattoos, and hung out for a few hours. I didn't tell them what they were going to get until they showed up. They just had blind faith in me, which is crazy. And I got match-ing [get it 😂] tattoos with them, and that's the joke. I also told them that an unlit match represents not playing all your good cards like you have one. It's unlit and I think what that represents is potential. You can strike at any moment. And I told them that when they feel like they've reached a point of potential in their life, or they feel like they've done something that they wanted to do for a long time, I told them that they should go back, get a flame added to it, and then let me know when they do because it's a significant moment. And I told them I would do the same, so I'm just holding out for that moment because I don't know when I'm going to reach my potential. But hopefully one day something will be enough for me."
Photos: Katherine Tyler