Billie Eilish Is Wise Beyond Her Sixteen Years
"Being an artist doesn't just mean you have a song."
I was more nervous calling up Billie Eilish than I am for most interviews. Sure, she’s only 16-years-old—but that makes her terrifying talent and cool-girl persona all the more intimidating. When I was a teenager, I didn’t have an aesthetically pleasing Instagram account with 1.1 million followers, and I definitely didn’t have a debut single with over 44 million streams.
It turns out, the pop prodigy prides herself on being a little bit scary. “People are terrified of me, and I want them to be,” she said in an interview with W Magazine last year. Having read this statement in my rigorous pre-interview research—and having witnessed Eilish’s fearless performance in front of a sold out crowd at Toronto’s Mod Theatre—I was just as frightened as Eilish wanted me to be. This girl knows exactly who she is, and she isn’t apologizing for it. She’s cooler than me, more talented than me and, as it turns out, she’s a lot wiser than me too.
What does it mean to be an artist? How do you connect with fans? Is being nice pretty? Billie Eilish shares all her tokens of wisdom. And, as a bonus, she offers anecdotes on her relationship with Khalid—the Grammy-nominated R&B singer whom she recently collaborated with on “Lovely“—and her aptly named Instagram handle, @wherearetheavocados.
On being really (really) cool.
“I’m not going to say I’m cool, because I don’t really feel that. I just don’t care at all, and I guess that’s what people think is cool.”
On her fans.
“I don’t even call them fans. I don’t like that. They’re literally just a part of my life; they’re a part of my family. I don’t think of them as on a lower level than me. I don’t think I’m anything but equal to all of them. So yeah, they’re basically all of my siblings.”
“What I always say about my shows is, I don’t want people to leave saying, ‘I watched someone do a fun show.’ I want it to be an experience that both of us shared. I want people to say: ‘I went and saw Billie and we had a good time.’ I don’t want it to be a play or something performative, I want everyone to be involved.”
On her hometown, Los Angeles.
“I don’t really like playing in LA; people here think they’re so cool. Everyone you know and everyone you’ve ever met in your entire life shows up. And in L.A. everyone is a bit insane, everyone thinks they’re better than everyone else.”
On being an artist.
“Being an artist doesn’t just mean you have a song. That doesn’t make you an artist. The word artist means so many different things, and I feel like to be a real one, you really have to do it all. The people that I think of as artists—Tyler the Creator, Childish Gambino, Kanye West—are doing the most.”
On being besties with Khalid.
“My friend played ‘Location’ for me back in 2016, before it was big. I looked him up and I couldn’t find a single thing about him. I literally looked up the name Khalid on iTunes and there was nothing there: no songs, no artist page, just nothing. So I found ‘Location’ on Soundcloud, and then realized that he followed me on Twitter. He DM’d me or I DM’d him, and then he gave me his number. We just became friends. Neither of us were chasing any kind of clout, or whatever you want to call it. I respected him for his art, and he respected me. And then he became the huge star that I always thought he was.”
“We wrote it last April. We didn’t really go into it like: ‘We’re going to write a song and put it out.’ [Khalid] just came over and we hung out, and we ended up writing a song. It wasn’t anything more or less than that.”
“In real life, I’m a really smiley person. I smile when I talk and I laugh. It’s weird because a lot of my friends know me as a very smiley human. So yeah, I don’t smile in photos and I want people to be afraid of me. But in reality, when you see me, I’m just going to cuddle you up.”
On being nice.
“It’s so much prettier to be nice. Being mean or being unfriendly—it’s so unattractive. You can still look cool and be a nice person.”
On starting a fashion brand.
“It’s one of the main things I want to do. I write down and draw out all of my ideas and designs for clothes. Right now, it’s just me creating stuff on photoshop. All the merch that I had on this whole tour, it’s all my design. Well, they’re my designs but toned down a bit, to make them cheaper to make.”
On her Instagram handle, @wherearetheavocados.
“About five ago I was at home alone making a grilled cheese. Grilled cheese are fucking good dude, and they’re good with avocados because avocados are good with everything. I looked in the fridge for some avocados, I couldn’t find any. I looked under my bed, I looked wherever avocados could be hidden. And I found none! So I stood in front of my fridge and I yelled at the top of my lungs, ‘WHERE ARE THE AVOCADOS?!’
And then a couple days later I made it my username. Now it’s a thing, people bring me avocados to shows and fan pages are always like, ‘here are the avocados.'”