By Brian Ives
Hailee Steinfeld has fans from all over the demographic map. She recently recorded a duet with superstar Shawn Mendes (an acoustic version of his hit “Stitches”), which put her in front of a very young fan base. Slightly older fans may know her through her role in Pitch Perfect 2 or via her appearance in Taylor Swift‘s “Bad Blood” music video. An even older fan base still know her through her Oscar-nominated role in the 2010 Coen Brothers film True Grit, where she starred opposite Jeff Bridges.
Now she’s planning the launch of her music career, which she expects to exist alongside her acting career. Our first glimpse into her debut album is “Love Myself.” We spoke to her about the song, the progress of the full-length, and about her collaborations with Mendes, Swift and the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges.
“Love Myself” is your introduction as a solo singer to the world; talk about choosing that song as the one to introduce yourself as a singer.
“Love Myself” was written by Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, and they’re not only two of my favorite writers, but two of my favorite people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with on the whole album. There was no question, to me, that that should be the first single. There was something so powerful about the lyrics that made me feel so good about life, and about myself, and the idea of putting something so powerful and empowering into the world meant a lot to me.
In this era of bullying and body shaming, it seems like a pretty resonant idea.
It’s been really amazing to see… when we released the title of the song, it was amazing to see what people were saying under the hashtgag #lovemyself. So much positivity and love was being spread. Just from the title! And then after the song came out, it’s been so amazing to see how it has affected people and how it has helped people, it feels really special.
Obviously committing yourself to music means a lot of time in the studio, on the road and promoting, and at some point you’ll probably have to choose between doing a film or spending more time on music.
I guess that’s true, but I’m not leaving one behind for the other. I do commit myself 110% to whatever it is I’m doing at the moment. But I love them both so much that I know I couldn’t do just one, and not the other. I’m going to do a movie at the end of October that I’m really excited about. It’ll be interesting to see how these two worlds will collide. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love and I’m going to take advantage of any opportunity I can to do it.
You looked like you had a great time shooting the “Love Myself” video.
I shot it in L.A. After a lot of back and forth and where to shoot it and what to wear and who to have in it, it came down to me really wanting to have fun and have a good time with it. It makes me feel good when I sing it, and I wanted the video to represent the idea that you can be yourself, you don’t have to look a certain way or act a certain way. And you can listen to your favorite song and dance as if no one is watching.
Even though lots of people are watching.
[Laughs] Even though lots of people are watching!
You wear a t-shirt in the video that says “self-service.”
Ultimately, this song is about taking care of, and indulging, yourself, whether that’s physically, or emotionally, or with material things. It’s nice having someone provide for you, but there’s a lot of power in knowing you can provide for yourself. and that “self-service” shirt really represents that. It is what it is. I’ve been working with a stylist, Karla Welch, since I was 13, and when we were thinking about this video, I had no specific look that I wanted, I just wanted to have a good time with it. We chose a few outfits and when I saw the “self-service” shirt, I said, “Man, that has to be in the video.”
So, do you have tour plans yet?
Not at the moment. I’m finishing the album.
When will it be out?
I want to say eaarly next year. I’d like to say tomorrow! But I’m aiming for early next year.
Are you writing songs, are people writing for you?
It’s a combination. I’ve been working with Justin and Julia and [production team] Mattman and Robin. I’ve had the best time with them and watching them come up with amazing ideas. They are so talented. It’s amazing because one thing that I’ve found in making this album, is that it’s evolved so much. I don’t know that what it is right now will be what it is by the time it is released.
So, obviously a good way to introduce yourself to a fan base is to duet with a guy like Shawn Mendes, as you did on the acoustic version of “Stitches.” How’d that happen?
I am such a huge fan of his. I’d been listening to Handwritten ever since it came out. I just love him and wanted to collaborate with him in some way. And we went back and forth on a couple of ideas. And then the idea of doing an acoustic “Stitches” duet came up and we just went for it. We made a video and recorded it in the same day. He is one of the most amazing guys I’ve ever met. He really is so sweet.
Was it fun being in Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” video?
Speaking for myself, I can tell you it was one of the best times I’ve ever had on a set. That was just one day of shooting for a lot of us, but the whole song and the entire video has been a journey. It started as just doing one day on the set and then we ended up on the Billbaord Music Awards together, and on the MTV VMAs.
One thing you and Taylor have in common is that you’ve both co-starred with Jeff Bridges [Swift was in 2014’s The Giver]. Did you get any advice from him about being an actor/musician?
I do stay in touch with him, I don’t see him nearly as much as I’d like to. I saw his band play when we were shooting a film, he performed with his daughter Jessie. It was amazing to reflect on that week that I spent making a movie with him. Seeing him play music was a whole other experience and it was so inspiring to see him love it so much. He loves both things: making movies and making music.