Listen Up! Five Reasons Why We’re All About Singer Billie Eilish
When we first talked to Billie Eilish, her EP Don’t Smile at Me had just hit the ground running, sneaking up the charts alongside Lorde and Coldplay. Not too shabby for just a few days after its release. Eilish sure had a lot to smile about when it came to the instant success of her new music, so I wanted to know more about where the title came from. She shared with me that “Don’t Smile at Me” came from that awkward encounter when you cross a stranger on the sidewalk and they smile at you, with the expectation of you smiling back. The feeling of being forced to cheese for a stranger is not her thing, and her straightforwardness about a moment we all dread encouraged me to never feel just-smile pressure again.
As I talked more with the 15-year-old singer, it became clear that Eilish is far more comfortable in her skin and unapologetic than most adults are. Lana del Rey and Maria and the Diamonds were a couple of her favorites at 11 years old, and she's not afraid to ignore "keep out" signs in the hopes of finding a place to just, simply, hang out. "I don't break into anywhere, but I hop over fences... my friends skateboard, so I just sit there while they skateboard... I just really love exploring. I love nature and sh*t. I just go around and find places I've never been."
Really, Eilish is just being the teenager she is, but it's when you hit play on her songs like "my boy" and "COPYCAT" that you feel a maturity and deep insight funnel through, visually and lyrically. She's not your average pop star, and that's not even what she's trying to go after. Along with her music, these are a few other reasons why we're geeked over Billie Eilish.
She Wants You to Not Like Her (Kinda)
It’s the friction of people’s opinions that gets Eilish going. “I like to dress memorable and I really like to be judged.” She wants to get people talking, whether they’re down with her outfit or hate it. “I love being in people’s heads, so if you are thinking about me, but what you’re thinking about is like ‘Oh, she looks so bad’ or ‘That’s so ugly’, I don’t even care! I’m in your head, dude. I’m controlling your thoughts. Keep going. I love being judged.” It’s her DGAF reaction and self-assured confidence that we should all embrace.
Hasn't Hit Up a Mall in Years
Her shopping of choice? Thrift shops! Don’t get Eilish wrong, she’s down with brand names, but the point of view for her unique style is more unconventional and DIY. “I just love huge sporty things. I wear guy clothes, pretty much. Like a sports dude. I wear baggy-insanely baggy-pants and shorts and I wear them with a belt even if they don’t have belt loops… I want to wear something that you can’t go buy.” If she can’t find what she’s looking for, she takes it into her own hands. “I design my own clothes. It’s very bootleg-design stuff. I’ll take shirts and cut them up and sew them together, or I’ll take shoes and take the shoelaces off and cut up the shoes. My brain is like one big ol’ pile of ideas, so I come up with random stuff.”
"The person who has influenced me a lot as a human and as a songwriter is Tyler, The Creator... and The Beatles. Those are the main things that spark me up as an artist."
Knows the Secret Recipe to the Perfect Song
We had to dig into Eilish’s brain to understand how she goes about creating a song and finding the right melody. Though each song is different, depending on whether she writes alone or with her brother, Finneas, her method still makes all the sense in the world. “If [the song] is good acoustically, it’s good with production. If it’s only good with production then it’s a bad song. That’s kind of how you know!” Finneas plays a big part in Eilish’s musical production. “I play the ukulele and piano, and Finneas plays everything. So, he’ll jam on guitar or something, and we’ll start riffing and coming up with melodies.” Halfway through the sibling duo doing their thing, they’ll start to realize what the song is about. “We always try to make it some crazy idea of a song.” Case in point: her song “Party Favor” came from their joke of how cruel it could be to leave someone a break-up voicemail on their birthday.
Hip Hop Music Was Her Revelation
Growing up in an extremely musical family, the California native listened to every genre of music on special mix tapes her father compiled for Eilish and her brother. “I grew up on a lot of The Beatles, Avril, Linkin Park, Green Day, and My Chemical Romance.” Then one day, she heard something that rocked her world. “When I was like, 12, I discovered Hip Hop for the first time. I was like ‘Ohhh! This is what I’m missing! This is exactly what I want.” The life-changing artist and song she heard was Childish Gambino’s “Because the Internet.” If you ask her who she’s into at the moment, the list proves she’s no rookie. “My favorite artist right now is Ski Mask the Slump God and XXXTentacion. They’re rad. I love A$AP and Drake and Travis Scott and Lil Uzi Vert… so many! I could name two million people. Sza, Willow, this girl Sevdaliza who’s really cool.” Ok, you sold us!
Her Influences Come From Those You'd Least (& Most) Expect
“The person who has influenced me a lot as a human and as a songwriter is Tyler, The Creator. I think Tyler and The Beatles. Those are the main things that spark me up as an artist.” Then she remembers, “… and Aurora! I was obsessed with her a lot when I was 12. The reason that I kind of decided that I wanted music to be what I was doing forever was I saw a music video of her called ‘Runaway’. I watched it and right in the middle I was like, ‘This is exactly what I want to do.” But, her main BISH is, hands down, her mother. "She's been with me through all of this and [has been] taking me at my horrible self, and she's been fine. It's really impressive. She taught me how to write music.... I could go on about her."