Hailee Steinfeld Releases ‘Half Written Story’

Plus, an interview with the Steinfeld from when lockdown began.

If pop music is a means of escapism, I’d debate that we need it more than ever. Thanks in part to Hailee Steinfeld’s “Half Written Story,” the first of a two-part project, that door to “anywhere but where I really am” is cracking open just in time for the weekend. That’s not to imply that Steinfeld’s new music is happy-go-lucky sugar pop; on the contrary, it’s a raw and emotive body of work for the starlet.

I spoke to Hailee in the beginning of March, just as the global lockdown began to hit the Western nations. Here are a few excerpts from that interview–and check out “Half Written Story,” below.

Mathias Rosenzweig: There’s this very polarizing topic of being productive while on lockdown. What’s your feeling about that? 

Hailee Steinfeld: Yeah, what’s funny is I’ve kind of gone back and forth on it. I’ve gone back and forth where I do feel, you know, I could get so much done. I have so much time on my hands, but at the same time, it’s kind of been, I think a blessing for a lot of people realizing the importance of just slowing down for a minute and taking a moment to appreciate what we do have access to, you know, and who we have around.

How are you passing the time? 

I have done more vacuuming randomly than I ever have in my entire life. My life is sort of a constant cycle of packing and unpacking and sometimes I never fully unpack, and I’ve got one foot in one foot out the door, and so I’ve just kind of been like, nesting a little bit. I’m not used to being home like this. And I’m making my space as creative as I can. I’ve ordered some equipment to build a little home studio, which is actually something I wanted to do for the longest time. And I’ve finally been able to get around to it. I’ve also been working out a lot. My dad’s a personal trainer. So we’ve been getting really creative with our workouts.

It all sounds pretty relatable. 

I also got a puppy recently, so she’s been keeping me pretty occupied, and it’s been wonderful actually being able to be home with her and train her in love affair so

Your song “I Love You’s” is about going through a breakup and not wanting to jump immediately into a new relationship, Can you give us a bit of the backstory there? 

I went through a breakup and entered a new relationship probably too soon after that breakup. And I guess there’s never really like, a designated time you’re meant to let go by, you know, before jumping into something new. Your heart wants what it wants, and you listen to your heart. You know, I’m no expert at this, with relationships and what have you. But I’m learning as I go. And I realized that sometimes you don’t necessarily realize the importance of taking time to heal. I think a lot of times we, I mean, I’ve been in situations where I think I’ve convinced myself I’m okay. When maybe I’m not deep down. But anyway, I went into this one relationship. And when that ended, I felt like the wind had been just knocked out of me. I just was like, completely heartbroken. And I felt very hopeless. And so I made the decision of needing time needing that time that I needed in the first place to just heal and focus on myself and, you know, really gain clarity within myself that I had lost for quite some time. So that was kind of where the idea…when I first heard this song, I was like, “This is exactly what I said to myself.” So when I heard this for the first time, it resonated with me on a spiritual level.

What’s happening right now is like a breakup from the real world. I think we’re all forced to spend a lot more time with ourselves than we’d planned to. 

Absolutely. It’s funny because I thought of that as well. It’s a weird thing to think about because it is happening on such a large scale. When it came to creating this video for the song, not to jump ahead or anything, but, you know, for me, this song is sort of a self-celebration song, if you will, accepting the ability to decide for yourself, decide what’s best for yourself and take ownership of your emotions and take control of that. And I just think there’s something really empowering about that and I think to be able to make up your mind and stick with something at least for me, I’m a very, I tend to be very indecisive.

I feel like the theme of self-love has always been really big in your music. 

Totally. And I think that’s what’s so wonderful about, you know, making music and putting it out as I go. I feel like the more I make music, the more that I write, obviously, the more personal it becomes, the more personal it’s getting.

Especially to write about breakups. I mean that’s truly one of the most personal, vulnerable things in the world. 

You’re so right. I mean, it’s crazy. And it’s one of those things now, I think when you when you sort of get to the other side, where I feel like I am now, you look back on certain things, and you’re just like, so many people told me, you know, either you’re gonna laugh about this, or it’s not, you know, this isn’t the first time it won’t be the last, you know, all of these things that you sort of hear from people.

Is there any sort of positive change that you hope will come from this? Not that it would undo the negative. 

I just hope people will remember to be more appreciative. And like I was saying before, just the importance of slowing down and being present and taking time. I just either I hope people continue to be compassionate and respectful towards others. I think that, you know, what we’ve all realized here is that one person can be affected by something, the person right next to them can be as well. One thing can affect someone can affect everyone. And we are all equal in this in this situation, and in any situation or should be any way and I hope that people realize that.

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