Billie Eilish is bringing back the essence of music and artistry. For most pop enthusiasts and daily listeners, the shelf life of their favorite song is usually no more than a week. Superfans are a rare occurrence and Tiktok is where the magic happens. So when a 19-year-old sweeps five GRAMMY awards across top categories for music she made with her brother in their family home, you just know that a revolution is a-foot. And that revolution goes by the name of Billie Eilish.
At just 19 years of age, Billie’s six-year-long career has been staggering, bringing forth a new age of music and artistry that is raw and honest. Born to Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell in North-East Los Angeles, California, Billie Eilish first made her debut with the 2015 single, Ocean Eyes. The track, released on SoundCloud, quickly found its way to listeners across the globe and caught the attention of Interscope Records’ subsidiary, Darkroom, who instantaneously geared up to boost Billie to well-deserved stardom. She was 13 then.
Now, in 2021, having dropped her three-years-in-the-making Apple TV+ documentary, with four concert tours and her very own Bond theme track, and multiple chart-topping releases, it is safe to say that Billie Eilish has secured herself a spot amongst the greats of the global music industry. Her music is exquisite, her vocal capabilities scream technique and her production is always top-notch, in the studio and on the stage. But what sets her apart from her peers, is her unbound love for her fans. To Billie, two things come first – her fans and her live performances. For anyone that has attended a Billie Eilish concert, they know these two combine to form a match made in heaven. Billie’s dedication to her fans goes beyond delivering a good performance; to her, every show and every fan deserves everything she can give them.
Watch 5 Things You Didn’t Know featuring Billie Eilish here:
For Billie Eilish fans in India, the love runs deep. Her single, Ocean Eyes, became a phenomenon in the country, long before Spotify playlists became everyone’s medium of choice. When Billie’s Bellyache era hit, yellow jackets and silvery-pastel hair became a fashion statement everyone wanted to get behind, and the more Billie released, the harder we all fell in love with the teenaged genius.
With the first quarter of 2021 coming to an end, there is no better time than right now to start dreaming of a Billie Eilish India tour. While we draw comfort knowing happier than ever might get its own live release soon, we can never discount every other reason Billie Eilish needs to play India right now.
The Billie Eilish Concert Experience
Being part of the crowd at a Billie Eilish concert is an experience like no other. Billie gives definition to the phrase ‘performing for you’. In multiple interviews, Billie has revealed that performing for her fans is by far the best part of her career as a musician. On any given day, a performance from Billie delivers exhilaration, energy and finesse. She jumps high, bends low and dances hard, until she can’t anymore. Then she does it all over again. And how can we even begin to describe the visuals?
Following some rather trashy comments about her body in a paparazzi picture taken mid-pandemic, Billie debuted her short film Not My Responsibility during the Where Do We Go? World tour. The film has Billie recite a jarring monologue while the visuals show her submerging herself in a dark liquid while she undresses. Not My Responsibility made the entire event a heavy-hitter, leaving fans in awe of Billie’s writing and recital prowess, and the beauty and severity in the film itself.
The concert experience is everything, and when you see your favorite human, crooning in a double bed while it slowly rises to the ceiling, pouring her heart out to I Love You, until she chokes up out of grief – you want to protect her at all costs. And that feeling, is by far, above all else.
Billie almost always performs with her brother, and together, they surpass anything that sounds Earthly. She talks to the crowd, feeds off them, and delivers. Everything is live, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, impromptu. Her energy is infectious and her voice – supreme. In her own words, she could literally hop on stage and say “poop” and we’d be happy with it.
A Breath Of Fresh Air in India’s Saturated Market
In a country where most music has to do with objectification and rather dated comparisons of the female (and sometimes, male) body, where deeper music is harder to come by, Billie’s music is a revival of the listening experience, and how musicians should be perceived. Right off the bat, Billie made a statement. Contrary to current standards, her oversized clothes, minimal make-up, and complete disregard for any “body marketing” serve as a reminder that musicians don’t have to sexualize themselves to sell-out stadiums.
Billie, like every other teenager, cares about what people think of her body, but she also acknowledges the responsibility she has towards her more impressionable audiences. Her concert outfits are usually maximized for comfort, and come paired with sneakers from Billie’s impressive collection back home. Her goal is to deliver powerful performances; her oversized fits are always a serve her and the focus is always on Billie, as it should be. There are seldom theatrics involved, and only those that serve as a means to elevate Billie’s signature performance style.
She Talks About Her Mental Health
In India, mental health conversations are still in their preliminary stages, with a looming stigma that prevents mainstream media from acknowledging and representing what should otherwise be the need of the hour. For Billie, music is personal and is deeply rooted in her own experiences and beliefs. Her songs refer to depression, self-harm and suicide, and she doesn’t shy away from conversations about the nature of her music.
While her lyrics raise concerns with her parents about her safety and well-being, they also acknowledge the current pressures teenagers face as well as Billie’s own unique situation. In an interview in Billie’s documentary, Maggie explains, “I think people give teenagers a really rough time. Y’know, they’re privileged, they have it so easy, they’re fake depressed.” She continues, “No, there’s a lot to be depressed about. If you’re a teenager, you’re dealing with parents who lived through the recession, like us, who have been scared that they’re going to lose their homes. You’re living in a culture with an opioid epidemic and a drug epidemic. You’re facing, possibly, the destruction of a planet. You’re in a political climate that is terrifying. And people are like “Oh, Billie Eilish’s music is depressing.” No, teenagers are depressed.”
Billie has been very vocal about her mental health. It doesn’t take a seasoned listener to catch alarming statements in her songs, and if not for Billie’s family, there would be genuine cause for concern. Her music serves as an outlet, not only for the singer herself but for fans worldwide as well. She has suffered from depression and writes rather jarringly about her deeper sentiments. “Call my friends and tell them that I love them, and I’ll miss them, but I’m not sorry” she sings, in her track, listen before i go, referring to suicide. In her TWALB documentary, we see her mother strike up a conversation with Billie, asking “Are you seriously implying that you’d jump off the roof?” to which Billie responds, “This song is the reason I don’t”.
Her Love For Her Fans
Billie Eilish loves her fans. She doesn’t see them as fans, she sees them as friends that are growing up with her. She regularly goes off on her Instagram stories, having candid conversations with the audience, as if with a friend she facetimed to catch up with. She follows fan accounts, likes memes and let us never forget when Shark ate an octopus. It’s really real.
In an interview with MTV Australia, she says, “I want to be the artist I would want to be a fan of”, stating that she always wants to be accessible to her fans, saying “I never want to be out of reach. I hate that”. Her meet and greets are always swamped and fans usually leave in happy tears, and for Billie, its almost like catching up with old friends. In another interview with Variety, she recalls an incident with fans near her hotel. “They followed me to my hotel — which I hate, please don’t come to my hotel — but I realized it was them and we just hung out alone in the parking lot at like 3 a.m.” We repeat, please don’t go to Billie’s hotel.
Billie has also come out about her struggles with self-harm, and constantly worries about and checks on her fans whenever she can, having overcome her own depression only recently. “I just grab them by the shoulders and I’m like, ‘Please, take care of yourself and be good to yourself and be nice to yourself,'” she says.
Her Authenticity And Breakthrough Success
According to the CEO of Interscope, John Janick, and we agree, Billie is the CEO of Billie Eilish. On the other hand, CEO of Darkroom, Justin Lubliner says, and we also agree, “She’s your best friend in high school or college”. Billie Eilish is nothing if not herself. She is humble, great but never greater, and wise beyond her years. Billie and her family, as seen intimately in her documentary, are extremely close, and live together in their family home. She doesn’t display a larger-than-life persona and her lifestyle is hectic, not lavish, with any free time spent doing activities together as a family.
Billie didn’t start making music to gain fame. For fans that partake in Billie trivia, it is common knowledge that Billie was a dancer, immensely creative as a child and a die-hard Belieber, the latter being a common identifier for now-20-something Indians. In her documentary, Billie gets a surprise visit from Justin at 2019’s Coachella event and proceeds to have a complete fangirl breakdown. The experience is humbling and reminds us that Billie is, after all, a teenager who makes exemplary music, but still remains obsessed with those that inspired her. Billie’s breakthrough track, Ocean Eyes, was originally never meant to be released. It was a project from Billie’s dance instructor, intended to be used for choreography. The song was, of course, an instant hit, and pivoted the sibling duo to the top of global charts.
“We put it on SoundCloud with a free download link next to it so my dance teacher could access it. We had no intentions for it, really,” Billie recalls in a 2017 interview with Teen Vogue. “Basically overnight a ton of people started hearing it and sharing it. Hillydilly, a music discovery website, found it and posted it and it just got bigger and bigger. It was really surreal.” Soon after, Billie signed with Interscope Record’s subsidiary, Darkroom, and the song got an official release.
Her Activism, Environmental-Consciousness and Political Stance
For Billie’s Where Do We Go? World tour, the singer paired with non-profit organization, Reverb to maximize their waste management efforts. From enforcing a complete ban on plastic utensils and cutlery to promoting refills, the tour was reportedly estimated to have saved on the disposal of 35,000 units of single-use plastic bottles. Billie is vegan and regularly promotes equal animal rights and conscious living. During the early months of the pandemic, her family used their quarantine time to foster rescue Pitbulls, of which Billie adopted Shark, and Finneas got Peaches, both of who have become fan beloveds.
Billie is also very aware of politics. During her appearance at the Democratic Convention Centre in August of 2020, Billie addressed viewers before she began her performance, stating “You don’t need me to tell you things are a mess — Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything we care about.” She continues to announce her support for then-President-elect Joe Biden, and concludes by saying, “Silence is not an option and we cannot sit this one out. We all have to vote like our lives and the world depend on it — because they do. The only way to be certain of our future is to make it ourselves. Please register; please vote.” In India, where politics is perceived to be more threatening than promising, having an icon to draw courage from could very well pave the way for young artists in the country to follow suit. Billie has also spoken about gun control, and frequently advocates for the vegan lifestyle.
Because India Needs Billie Eilish
More than ever before.
It’s been over a year since live events seized entirely, and the reset is long overdue. We need to connect again, exchange energy and make more memories. We need to feed off Billie and sing till our throats are hoarse. We need a performance that is raw and real, to be asked “Are you okay?”, to save up for a meet-and-greet and ride through the excitement of it all. Because Billie could awaken, kill, revive and ascend us all within one show.
Some of us have watched her grow up, some have grown up with her, and some are only discovering her now. Billie has always given her fans everything she could and then some.
Now it’s our turn.