Every person has at least one moment in their life that they remember with a clarity as if it had just happened. For some it is a seemingly insignificant moment of their life that they can’t forget, for others it is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to them, or the few that it is something that changed them forever.
For Halston Dare, this memory falls into the latter category.
“It’s a vivid memory,” she says when asked what moment stuck out to her as the one when she decided she wanted to pursue music as her career. The moment occurred in the fall of 2014 at a concert. “I got Katy Perry tickets for my birthday,” she says, noting the concert was for only a few weeks after her 15th birthday. “I got to go with my best friend and we dressed up in the most craziest, wild outfits ever,” the fondness of the memory fills Halston’s voice. “And my mom brought her best friend and we wore tutus and like chevron rainbow print leggings and I wore white mascara.”
Halston recalls watching the mega star performing and that she was freaking out watching the entire show. “Then she comes around on her ‘Birthday’ song and she gets in this conveyor floating thing around the arena and she flies over everywhere!” The awe is evident in her voice as she relays the memory playing in her head. “[Katy] was like 30 feet away from me and it felt like she was like two feet away from me. And I’ll never forget looking up and just being so mesmerized by her and being like, ‘Oh my God – I want to do that someday.’” She continues, gushing, “Then she got back on stage and she started singing ‘The One That Got Away’ but an acoustic version, and I just was bawling my eyes out. She was so beautiful; she was wearing this daisy flower dress that was just so long with this beautiful train and her hair was baby blue and, oh, she’s so beautiful.”
A night that was supposed to be one of fun and for a birthday celebration turned into one holding so much more meaning. “I’ll never forget that concert and that experience,” says Halston. “And just realizing that, holy crap, I want that stage to be my future office.”
Though she has yet to meet the singer, she still has hope it’ll happen one day soon. “I would love to [meet Katy Perry] because she is literally pretty much the reason I started singing and songwriting!” When TEENPLICITY brings up the idea of possibly collaborating with the singer in the future, Halston wholeheartedly agrees. “That’d be incredible, holy crap.”
This is going to be a song for all those girls who are not getting treated the way that they deserve to be treated and they need to be reminded that they can replace anybody in a minute and in a second.
Katy Perry’s concert may have been the jumping off point for Halston to pursue music as her career but the influence of a musical career dates back to her childhood. Her father was a singer when she was growing up.
“He was in a barbershop quartet and so music was always around ever since I was born,” she explains. “My older brothers did choir and by the age of two, I was already humming and singing, and I just was always being influence by older music from the 70s and 80s.” Music has been so intertwined in her life that it’s the backbone of all she does and in all of her memories. “Music is just – it’s been something that I always have been able to remember. Thanks to my dad, he really influenced me to go into the music industry.” While many parents with a history in the entertainment industry are hesitant to allow their children to follow in their steps, her father had her back the entire time.
Halston loved the music she listened to while growing up – thanks to her parents influence – but it is unlikely that she’ll incorporate those elements into her own music. “I wish,” she says of the idea. “I’ve always wanted to be able to write old music like that and have old melodies. I’m just not skilled at it yet.”
She continues, “I think I enjoy listening to it more than putting it into my own music, because when I’m writing and I’m singing original things or things that I would like to create, I find myself going towards more of the pop realm instead of vintage music.” That doesn’t stop her from wishing that one day she’ll be able to mix the elements from the music of the past and her creations of today. “But,” she also admits, “you know, you don’t hear vintage stuff on the radio, unfortunately, as much as I would love for it to be.”
One thing Halston would love, though, is to have had some of the knowledge she does now back when she was first starting her career. When first asked what she wish she knew before, she laughs softly, stumped, and says, “I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before, let me think.” After a moment of thought, she says, “I wish I would have listened to my teams when they told me that I need to do things; I used to be such a stubborn person,” she confesses. “I feel like I would have been so much easier to work with and gotten a little bit father with my social media. But I just didn’t know.”
Being able to admit her mistakes of her past already shows how much Halston has grown, both as a professional artist and as a person. “When I was young, I just loved to hang out with friends and do my own thing. I’d put my phone away and disappear and [my team would] be like, ‘Halston, pick up your phone! We have a conference call!’ I’d be like, ‘Oops! Sorry!’” She lets out a tiny, embarrassed laugh as she tries to imitate her younger self.
“I think it was beautiful that I was so carefree when I was younger, and – you know, thank God for all the music and heartbreak songs that I have written but – holy moly, I wish I just would have told everybody music is my boyfriend and nobody else can come in between that. Growing up, I was just like,” she pitches her voice higher and laughs as she imitates her younger self once more, “‘Boyfriends! I want one!’”
Halston does agree that, despite it all, the experiences have helped her create incredible music. “It’s totally worth it.”
Her recent single ‘Replace You’ is based off of one of those difficult experiences. The song is mesmerizing, between the light beats during the verses, the rise in energy during the chorus, and Halston’s rich voice, one is completely transported to this world she has created. The song talks about how easily she can drop someone if they start to play games or don’t appreciate her. “I could love you / I could leave you / Don’t forget I could replace you,” she sings in the chorus.
The song came from a place of hurt, which she then turned into a moment of self-worth.
“I was dating this guy and he at the time, – thank God, I don’t really feel like he’s like this anymore – I had to beg for his attention and I literally had to pay a dollar to just get some kind of recognition by him,” Halston says, her voice gathering a rougher tone as she recalls the event. She takes a moment before saying that it was really hurtful to experience. “I hated it,” she says.
“One night I just went off on him and he basically was like, ‘I’m busy playing Xbox, I’ll talk to you later.’ And I’m like, ‘Screw you!’” The singer continues, “I’m like, ‘Dude, do you know how many guys are waiting in line for you to screw up? Do not – like don’t go down this road with me,’” She lets out a soft chuckle as she recalls those words. “‘I will make you regret it.’”
They’re just such a loving, awesome family, and I’m so glad that I have the fanbase that I do right now.
The next day, she went to a writing session with fellow songwriter Michelle, who asked her what happened. It was then that Halston explained, “And I’m like, ‘This dude thinks he’s irreplaceable! He literally thinks he’s the shit,’ and I’m sitting here and I’m like, ‘He’s not!’” Michelle told her then and there that they would write a song about it, which is when Halston switched what kind of song it’d be. “This is going to be a song for all those girls who are not getting treated the way that they deserve to be treated and they need to be reminded that they can replace anybody in a minute and in a second,” she remembers. There’s a faint noise of her hands clapping between each point as she stresses, “There’s always someone out there that will be able to take your place.”
Halston continues that thought, saying, “Somebody that will always be able to fill your shoes, whether it’s a job, a boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, you know, anything. That’s why you always got to appreciate where you are in life and never take anybody or anything for granted because somebody else will definitely take your place and make you turn your head three thousand times.”
While this time in her life had been painful, she has since moved on from it. Though she hasn’t been able to perform ‘Replace You’ yet due to the global pandemic, she has listened to the finished recording a bunch. “I just think it’s funny, every single time I hear ‘Replace You’, I laugh because I’m like, ‘Holy crap. I was pissed!” she says, laughter in her voice as she thinks of how she justifiably felt then. “Like just hearing the lyrics and what I had to write and everything… I was so mad and so upset and I’m just so taken aback that I wrote that and how it turned out. I get revisited to that time and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so glad I’m not in that position anymore!’”
The music video for the song is sleek and edgy, swapping between contrasting warm and cool tones, completing what looks like an effortlessly awesome video. What makes the video even better is the heavy hand that Halston had in creating it.
“You know, because of COVID, I basically had to direct and create the music video myself.” Some of the inspiration came from what older generations may deem an unlikely place. “I have really been inspired lately by TikTok. So a lot of everything that you’re seeing in the music video is coming from TikTok and inspirations that I have seen through videos on there.”
The social media platform is continually growing and expanding its reach, something that many artists like Halston are now using to their benefit.
“I would really love for ‘Replace You’ to grow on TikTok!” she says of her song which has recently become a sound available for use on TikTok. “I think that would be so awesome. I think it will be a really relatable sound, like a lot of other sounds are, and I can definitely see a dance happening to it – that would just be awesome.” For some artists, the video app has become the best way to get discovered, or make a career comeback. Like YouTube had served its purpose for more than a decade in lending a hand for artists to be discovered, TikTok is doing much of the same.
“I love TikTok and TikTok is such a relatable influencing platform,” she says. “I really enjoyed creating videos to promote ‘Replace You’ on there and I’m just glad that’s on there, that’s awesome.”
In addition to TikTok content creators that inspire Halston, there are still a number of musical artists that do the same. “Definitely Sasha Sloan and Julia Michaels, Dua Lipa…” the singer begins of her inspirations. “Lennon Stella, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish – I mean, the list could just keep going.”
Her list of who she’d love to collaborate or perform with is just as long, holding just as much incredible talent. “Probably Lizzo,” she says immediately. She pauses as she thinks of who else she’d love to work with. “Maybe Julia Michaels, Shawn Mendes, Khalid. I think that would be sick. Definitely many more but those are at the top of my head of who I’d love to work with.” The main reason Halston names these artists is for the music they create. “Their music is incredible and I love listening to it.” She continues, “When I do listen to their songs, I’m like ‘Oh my God, I can hear myself on this!’ Or I can hear them on one of my songs. I just feel like it’d really grow me as an artist as well.”
While collaborating with one of the aforementioned artists is on her list of goals, the singer also has her eyes set on a few goals she’d wish to accomplish over the next five years.
“I would love to go on tour,” is her first answer, one that many musicians can definitely relate to at this moment. “I want to reach at least 250,000 or 500,000 followers on Instagram. I would love to get a million streams on one of my songs and do a collab with an artist that I really aspire to be like.” One of the goals she has on her list had already been crossed off. “I crossed one off this year which was getting verified and I just got verified,” she says cheerfully.
As she lists her goals, Halston doesn’t forget her fans who have been very supportive of her on this journey. They have been using ‘Replace You’ on TikTok, leaving positive comments on all her posts, and are listening to and streaming her music on every platform available.
“I love them very, very much!” she exclaims when talking about her fans. “I seriously could not be doing what I’m doing right now if it were not for them. If it weren’t for their support and their kindness – yeah I can also say they’re literally the kindest people ever,” Halston says, the pride evident in her voice. “I never have to worry about anything being negative. They’re just such a loving, awesome family, and I’m so glad that I have the fanbase that I do right now. I just can’t wait for many more to keep coming on.”
Halston also takes a moment to tease, “I also have to say – more music is coming, and tour is coming after COVID. Just hang on because so much is coming that I’ll be able to give them!”
Be sure to listen to ‘Replace You’ here!