Everybody loves a catchy hit, which is a pretty arcane commodity in and of itself. But rarer still is a hooky transmission that embeds itself in your neural grooves with more than just its irresistible sounds. 15 years young, Los Angeles native Billie Eilish is more than worthy of the ‘prodigy” tag that will inevitably be lobbed at her, for the very reason that she’s uncannily aware of how to make a sticky song that’s dashingly crafted and climatically significant. Interscope Records’ youngest signee is also the youngest-ever nominee for the BBC Music Sound of 2018 poll – that she’s on the cusp of a big moment is beyond question. So, when she takes the stage at Laneway Festival Singapore 2018 as, yes, the festival’s youngest performer to light on our shores, make sure you give her due props. Below, we talk love and music with the precocious and thoughtful singer-songwriter.
You’re due to play in Singapore for the first time in January next year. Psyched?
It’s crazy! I’ve never even thought of going to Singapore and for a while, I didn’t even know where Singapore was. I always thought that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go, which is mind-boggling because I heard that it’s insanely beautiful and Laneway itself is also crazy and amazing so I don’t even know what to expect. I discovered Anderson .Paak and Mac DeMarco on the Internet and I love them so much. It’s going to be super sick to see them in real life, as it’ll be for me to perform on the same stage as them.
You are such a young talent. Have people treated you differently just based on your age?
Everyone does. It’s kind of unavoidable. That’s just how the brain works. I don’t blame people who have doubts about my capabilities as a musician because I’m 15 – I understand that. That’s just how it is and it can’t be avoided which is perfectly fine.
“Everyone has different inspirations and just because they aren’t the same as yours, it doesn’t mean that who they’ve worked so hard to become should be seen as lesser.”
The thing about me is that I’m not really affected by pressure. ‘Pressure’ isn’t in my dictionary. When things come my way, I just do my best, and if isn’t the best, it’s okay, I’ll live anyway. My music is going to change a lot over the years and it’s always going to be different and I don’t want it to always sound like one thing and one kind. I always try to make something new and dissimilar to the previous material.
And what are your thoughts on the time we live in now, where just about anyone can make their own music and release it online?
I think it’s great but it’s also terribly dangerous. Not that some musicians don’t deserve the recognition, it’s just that anything like this is going to have some sort of effect on everyone, no matter the age. Especially when artists start young, it’s going have some kind of effect on them, positive or negative. For me, I like what I’m doing and I’m not doing this for fame, so I have no problem with it. But I think it’s incredible that anyone can be anyone with music now.
“watch” is such a beautiful, dark, revenge-driven song. What’s there a story behind it?
There are many meanings behind it. My brother wrote the song so I can’t tell you the exact story behind the lyrics when they were written. Of course, I have my own take on the lyrics when I sing it, and for me, it’s really about just being mentally unstable because of someone and knowing that I’m being manipulated and stuck in a relationship and just finally breaking free from it.
It’s like saying, ‘You can go die now’. The music video portrays me trying to get rid of the version of myself that was hurt by the other person in the relationship. The person that he damaged and hurt is now gone. I’m going to be a new me and I’m stronger than ever now.
Vince Staples came under fire for saying that he isn’t familiar with songs by the older generation of artists. Do you feel that younger artists are supposed to know the history behind the music they make?
I love a ton of old hip-hop and a lot of that affects my style of writing songs now. I don’t think anyone should be forced to do anything and they are not at fault for not knowing something. Everyone has different inspirations and just because they aren’t the same as yours, it doesn’t mean that who they’ve worked so hard to become should be seen as lesser. Also, Vince Staples is amazing so it seems that everything that he’s listening to is helping him out.
We are a few weeks away from 2018. What would you say has been your personal silver lining from this year?
This year was rough. but more good things happened to me this year than in my whole life combined. Putting out my EP was fun but the main thing that I was excited about and really proud of this year was that my first headlining show in London was sold out! It was my first show and there was a bunch of people of different ages singing the words to my song. It was a phenomenal experience and what’s even more amazing is that every show following that has the same level of enthusiasm from the audience. I think that moment in London when I met all the fans after my show was the best thing that happened to me this year. Words can’t explain how stoked I was.
Catch Billie Eilish and many more at Laneway Festival Singapore 2018, which happens on January 27 at The Meadow, Gardens By the Bay. Get your tickets here.